To: Former Taoyuan Bandits, the U-2 community and those interested in a
From: Joe Donoghue
(I was in the command post at Taoyuan the night Jack Chang was shot down.
We knew within minutes that the Chicoms had cancelled their air defense
alert but I spent the next several hours monitoring the HF and UHF radios
hoping that Jack might somehow still be airborne and making his way back to
base. The next morning I tuned-in Radio Peking on an R-390A radio receiver
and heard the announcement that the U-2 had been shot down but the
announcer made no mention of the fate of its pilot. We Americans and
Chinese in the Black Cat Squadron assumed that Jack had not survived and so
I still believed till I attended a reunion in 1983 and heard an excited
John Raines tell the story of how he had welcomed Jack and Robin to the US.
The following is my brief review and hearty recommendation of a new book
by General Hsichun "Mike" Hua.)
On 1 November 1963, Major Changti "Robin" Yeh's U-2 was shot down over
mainland China and he was captured by Communist forces. The saga of Yeh's
19 year captivity and that of Major Liyi "Jack" Chang whose U-2 was shot
down in 1965 is well-told in a new book by General H. Mike Hua. Hua,
himself a former U-2 pilot in the joint CIA/ROCAF program, has conducted
numerous interviews with his former squadron-mates to get the story of
their captivity and of the disgraceful treatment by their own government on
Taiwan when the Communists finally released them in 1982.
Surprisingly to me, the Communists, by their standards, did not physically
mis-treat the two captured U-2 pilots. After 5 years in solitary
confinement (although not in a prison environment), both were released to
communes for "re-education." But the hard labor and poor rations that they
had to endure were the norm for the average peasants in the communes. The
cruel and unforgivable action of the Chicoms was the failure to admit that
Yeh and Chang were still alive.
The chapters on life in the communes and the effects of the Red Guards and
Cultural Revolution on the lives of the Chinese peasants and our grounded
aviators are a mini history lesson on the period.
As a result,of their government's declaring the pilots KIA, both their
wives eventually remarried and both US and Republic of China intelligence
circles as well as their families were amazed when Robin and Jack turned up
alive in Hong Kong. Given a very cold shoulder by the ROC government which
refused these ROC Air Force officers entry to their homeland and even
threatened court martials if they should make it to the island, the two
were helped by a network of former ROCAF pilots and former Chinese and
American U-2 squadron mates who put them in touch with the CIA which -
under no legal obligation - recognized a moral duty to these brave men.
There are eventual happy endings including a home-coming to Taipei in 1990
but the lost years can never be regained.
General Hua tells the story of these two lost Black Cats and their families
with compassion and - often - in their own words. Among many surprising
details: Yeh was shown a recent photo of Chinese and American U-2 squadron
personnel relaxing at the Taoyuan hostel during his interrogation; the
Chicom money in Jack Chang's survival kit was out-dated and would have
given him away even if he had not been wearing his pressure suit.
Lost Black Cats: Story of Two Captured Chinese U-2 Pilots
by H. Mike Hua,; AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana
Paperback (6x9) ISBN 141849917X $13.50
Dust Jacket Hardcover (6x9) ISBN 1418499188 $22.00
also available from Amazon.com
and from Barnes and Noble