'Black Bat Squadron’ museum opens in Hsinchu
The history concealed for more than half a century of an ROC Air Force secret reconnaissance unit has finally been put on display for the public to see with the inauguration Nov. 22 of a museum commemorating the “Black Bat Squadron.”
Despite the rainy and windy weather, more than 50 former members of the squadron were in high spirits attending the opening ceremony for the museum located on an Air Force base in Hsinchu City, northern Taiwan.
The Black Bats, whose formal name was the 34th Squadron of the ROC Air Force, were formed in 1952 and continued to fly missions through to 1972. Using planes and equipment provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, members of the unit, made up of the nation’s top pilots, flew dangerous intelligence-gathering night missions over mainland China.
A total of 148 members were killed in action and 15 planes went down during the squadron’s more than 800 operational missions, marking the greatest sacrifice in human lives among all of the ROC Air Force’s special units.
Speaking at the museum’s opening, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu noted that the remains of some of those who died in the line of duty are still in mainland China. He said that “no matter how far or how long,” his ministry will do whatever it takes to help the families have the remains of the deceased brought back to Taiwan. He is the first defense minister to make such a guarantee to the family members of the former secret squadron.
Kao said that he visited the Air Force cemetery in Xindian City of Taipei County in recent days to pay his respects to the killed pilots, saying that their heroic sacrifice is an example for all citizens of the country.
At the same time, he stated that the new museum will become a must-see spot in the armed force’s defense education program and will serve to arouse patriotism in the hearts of all of the nation’s military servicemembers.
Hsinchu City Mayor Lin Jung-tzer also attended the inaugural ceremony, saying that he is happy to see “the sun shine once again on a cloudy part of our history.”
Yang Chao-sun, widow of one of the pilots shot down over the mainland, presented a washing basin made from the wreckage of her late husband’s plane as a gift to the museum. The pilot, Yin Jin-ding, was killed during a reconnaissance mission over Liaodong Peninsula. The basin was given to her by a local resident when she visited the area in 1998.
Yang also presented the museum with a sample of soil that she collected from the area as a memento. She said that she hopes the contributions will serve to “bear witness to history.”