Museum dedicated to secret air force squadron inaugurated
Central News Agency
2009-11-22 09:30 PM
Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) A memorial hall dedicated to a secret surveillance squadron of the Republic of China Air Force was inaugurated Sunday at an Air Force base in Hsinchu City, northern Taiwan.

Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu, who presided over the opening ceremony, said the hall is a tribute and a monument to the squadron known as Black Bat, and especially to its members who died on surveillance missions over China.

"I paid my personal respects to the deceased members of the squadron at Xindian Air Force Cemetery yesterday," Kao said. The remains of many Black Bat squadron members were recovered and have been interred at that cemetery.

"The hall will be one of the must-see spots in the armed forces' defense education program." the minister said.

He promised to do his best to recover from China the remains of Black Bat squadron members who died there and to seek subsidies for their relatives, similar to those paid to families of veterans.

Hsinchu City Mayor Lin Jung-tzer said at the function that the city is proud to host the memorial, which will offer visitors a glimpse into the cold war days when Taiwan and China were anchored in rival camps and engaged in hostilities.

The display at the hall features an introduction to the squadron's history, the airplanes they used on surveillance, a name list of the members, the bat-shaped badges of the squadron, the medals and decorations its members earned, and the names of those who died in the line of duty.

Yang Chao-sun, the widow of one of the pilots who was shot down over China, presented the hall with an aluminum pan that she said was made from the wreckage of her husband's plane.

The squadron pilot, Yin Chin-ding, died along with his 12 crew members when his plane was shot down by anti-aircraft gunfire during a surveillance mission over Dalian, Liaonin Province in northeastern China in 1961.

Yang said the pan was given to her many years ago by a farmer when she visited the hillside area outside Dalian where her husband's plane was downed.

A local farmer who remembered the 1961 incident told her that farmers had looted the wreckage for whatever could be used had melted the aluminum to cast pans, she said.

"The pan reminded me of my husband and his crew, although I never found their remains," Yang said at the ceremony.

The squadron was formed by the ROC Air Force at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States in 1953 to obtain intelligence about China's military. Under a secret arrangement, the Air Force pilots would fly surveillance missions over China in planes provided by the U.S.

Usually, they would take off from the Hsinchu base at night and return in the morning. Because their missions were flown at night, they were named the Black Bat squadron.

The squadron had flown 838 sorties over China before the collaboration with the U.S. ended in 1974. During the period of operation, a total of 15 airplanes had either crashed or were shot down. Some 148 members of squadron were killed, which was two thirds of the total number.

The squadron's mission was kept secret, and all members killed in the line of duty were listed by the Air Force as missing in action. However, after the 1980s when Taiwan and China were attempting reconciliation, relatives of some of the lost squadron members succeeded in locating the crash sites and recovered the remains of their loved ones.

Last year, the Air Force decided to declassify information about the squadron and Hsinchu City took action to convert a dormitory used by the Black Bat members into a memorial to them.

(By Huang Yen-hu and Maubo Chang)

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