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Gerald Ford, Letter to Family after Visiting Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, September 3, 1953

Congressman Ford's letter to his wife, Betty, and sons Mike and Jack.
September 3, 1953

By Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

Dearest Betty, Nike and Jack:

There has been several days delay since the last missive but you will understand I hope, when you see the schedule of the past 72 hours. The Army officials have done a good job in compressing many points of interest into the limited time available, although the net result is no time for correspondence and on-the-spot correlation and evaluation of data collected.

The late afternoon arrival in Formosa found our party met at the Taipei Airport by Ambassador Rankin, General Chase, American military advisor to the Nationalist forces, and numerous other high-ranking U. S. and Chinese officials. I was informed t.hat Chang Kai Shek, President of Free China, and Madame Chang were expecting us for tea. Their residence, 45 minutes up the mountainside took us over a winding road which was in surprisingly good shape.

Our transportation pulled into the President's home where we were met by one of his top aides who escorted us into the living room that was furnished in most appropriate Chinese style. Chang Kai Shek sat in the far corner but
as we entered he arose, shook hands and through an interpretor, expressed a cordial welcome. We chatted for a few minutes, always by interpretor, and then Madame Chang made her appearance. I ended up sitting between the President and Madame Chang--she, by the way, speaks English fluently.

It. was an exceedingly interesting hour with our hosts serving iced tea vdth mint leamas, a Chinese food concoction, and a large dish of American ice cream. As we left, one of President Chang's advisors presented me with two boxes of his special brands of red and green tea plus the Ford seal in Chinese. If my letters are signed in the future in Chinese, it will be through the courtesy of the anti-communist leader of the Chinese people.

The American Ambassador lives next door and he had a dinner set up where our inspecting group could get acquainted and discuss controversial problems with the U.S. military and civilian officials who are working with the Chinese in Formosa. It was a pleasant but productive end to a long day. From Saigon to Hong Kong to Taipei in Formosa is a good many miles.

Our quarters for the night were in the Formosan palace, built for and used by the Japanese Crown Prince when the island was controlled by his people. It's a tremendously large place with beautiful Japanese gardens. My room for the night plus all of the adjoining rooms and balconies, was the area in the palace actually occupied by the Crown Prince.

The next morning a full briefing by the American Ambassador on the political aspects of the complicated Chinese problem followed by further conferences with our U. S. military mission. General Chase, who has been working with the Chang Kai Shek forces, has been most helpful in aiding the rehabilitation of the Chinese Nationalist forces since they left the mainland of China several years ago. Chang's army, navy and airforce are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Obviously they have as their prime mativation a strong desire to return to the Chinese mainland.

The next leg of the trip from Formosa to Okinawa was just long enough for us to have a Chinese-prepared box lunch on the plane. American G.I.s who fought on Okinawa in 1945 would not recognize the place today. Eight years ago after our Marines and Army forces wrested this tiny island from the Japanese it was laid waste. Now it's a powerful military bastion and a vital outpost in the American defense set-up. We spent a fruitful 6 hours in briefings and inspections. I came away with the distinct feeling that the U. S. needs this power-packed island and the surrounding territories for our own security.

We boarded our plane in time for a late evening meal enroute to Korea. The trip from Okinawa to Seoul, a distance of 900 miles, consumed only 3 hours and 45 minutes. It was midnight before we wearily crawled into bed. Just before retiring I was handed the itinerary for the next day, which included a full schedule of visits to numerous Army units from one end of the Korean front line to the other. My next letter will give you the details on this most interesting part of the trip.

The trip homeward will be somewhat slower for there are some problems that must be carefully examined on the civilian relief and rehabilitation program for South Korea. Nevertheless, I'll be in Washington as scheduled.

Love to you all,


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