Joel Aronson's
Taiwan Gallery

Lao PengYou - Old Friends - Good Memories

(click on any photograph with a blue border to access a larger image)

I developed deep friendships with many people, especially the Chinese Air Force officers and enlisted men. I enjoyed hanging out with them, often we did postmidnight runs in the heart of Taipei to get yadz bang (fried duck wings) and pijiou (beer). With me is Major Teng Lin Ch√ľan who was Chinese liaison officer with my unit in the Joint Operations Center, a military facility situated deep in a huge mountain cave.
Major Teng was world famous and he never talked about it, I learned from other Chinese officers. In the mid 50s he flew patrols in a P-51 prop fighter.

According to the stories, Major Teng was once pounced on by a flight of Chinese Communist MIG jet fighters. Seeing them roaring so close in his rearview mirror, he panicked and looped away, firing his guns aimlessly out of panic reflex. One of the MIGs flew into the wild rounds and went down. Major Teng was credited with a kill, learning about it only after he landed safely, in a state of shock.
He was rewarded with parades, hero status, money, advanced training in the United States, but he declined to fly again. Instead he chose to do less stressful liaison and analysis work.

Two images of hospitable Chinese people who so freely gave of themselves in the spirit of international friendship.
On the left is General Chou Mei Yu, who at the time was the world's highest ranking military woman. She introduced me to General J.L. Wong, who was Chiang Kai-Shek's dentist and kept spare sets of the Generalissimo's teeth in his desk. I befriended General Wong's son, Philip, who suffered from a severe spinal deformity and was my age. Philip came to the United States to study watchmaking and died a few years afterwards.

There were several opportunities to visit with the families of friends who were ordinary Chinese citizens. Surprisingly, these people loved being photographed and I was fortunate to capture these classical images of a grandfather, grandmother and their family, in their home. For some forgotten reason, the grandparents could not be seated together.