Military Traditions

February 1, 2018 By Walt McDaniel

Welcome to Our Home

In 1961 while stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, a Chinese Air Force officer was stationed at our office for a year. Col. C. C. Kuo was treated as one of the guys. His training in Taiwan included very good English, playing chess, being a very good dancer, comfortable at the bridge table or whatever he was exposed to in our way of life. Esther and I invited him to our Thanksgiving dinner and noticed he was interested in all related activities before and after dinner. He was impressed with Esther and her preparations. In Taiwan, it was assumed that American housewives had maids to help, but he never saw anyone helping Esther. He was amazed to watch her fix, serve, clear the table and then join the others for bridge. Over several months we invited Kuo to join us for dinner. He always went to the kitchen to watch Esther’s every step and often offered to help.

In 1967 when I was ordered to a Chinese Air Force Base in Taiwan, I contacted Kuo about my upcoming arrival. He met me and a couple of others in Taipei, and hosted us for a “real” Chinese dinner. We were served umpteen different courses and Kuo insisted he toast each course with a small cup of rice wine. What a welcome!

Later he invited me to his home about 80 miles south of the base. A friend and I rode our motorcycles. The highway was mostly occupied by bicycles, people walking down the middle of the road and big trucks roaring by. We rode across rice field levees just to find the highway. Arriving at the city, we gave Kuo’s address to a hotel clerk who spoke English, and he gave it to a taxi driver who led the way for us. We found the house, which was surrounded by a brick wall with the top covered by embedded broken glass. No bell to ring, so I just stood and yelled until Kuo came to the gate. The home was very small, with a bedroom, a living room with bunk beds for the three kids, and a small kitchen. His wife, Helen, had lunch ready with pork, vegetables and a fruit bowl. Helen did not speak English but probably understood more than we thought.

Fast forward to 1995 when Kuo, who had moved to Toronto, wrote that they would be in Los Angeles for a reunion. Their daughter had married an American and lived in southern California. We invited them to stay overnight. We met them at the curb and introduced Esther and Helen to each other. Kuo was carrying a large package containing a painting Helen made for Esther. Kuo felt at home and started asking “Where we hang?” We all looked but Kuo found the perfect spot. The painting stayed on that wall until our move to PVE. It now hangs just inside our front door as a welcome to our home.


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