One of my most memorable experiences living in Hualien is an afternoon in the harbor.
It was probably during the summer of 1966 or 1967. During that time Hualien harbor was open to the public and Taiwan was one of R&R destinations for American GIs sent to the Vietnam War. My elder brother, George, was in high school at that time and I was in primary school. Oftentimes George loved to bring me, his kid brother, along when he went out. On a peaceful afternoon we rode a motorbike to the harbor. There was an American warship docked in the harbor. It looked like it was at the end of their R&R break with only a few hours left before they headed for Vietnam. An American GI was lingered around on the dock. He and George started a conversation. That GI must be not more than a few years older than George. He asked for a joyride on our motorbike and went around the harbor. Afterwards they exchanged addresses for further correspondence.
After about a month, George received a returned letter. He reached out to this young American boy shortly after they met and that GI was killed in Vietnam before the letter got to him.
Two innocent boys attempted to form a friendship during a turbulent time. The relationship lasted for a short time before it was extinguished. That Vietnam War cemented the position of Taiwan as an ally of the U.S. while the presence of American military force in the Asian theater forever extinguished the hope of unifying China and Taiwan at that time. Taiwan’s reliance on U.S. was accentuated by the military cooperation, later expanding to economic and other areas.
Sentimentality of the young American GI
Innocence of all parties in the story
Much less dramatic and shorter version of “Miss Saigon” with Taiwan as background
Ephemeral nature of life
Mentalities in that era
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