REVISTING TSINGTAO IN 2012
In October of 2012, the College of the Ozarks planned a 9-day trip to China. Five former Marines and 20 students from the college were on the trip. It was a history lesson for the students — two students were assigned to each Marine.
The Marine veterans were involved in making a documentary. “Charlie Two Shoes” was with us, and the movie will be based on his life with the Marines. Stratton Leopold Productions is in charge of the filming. Their film crew and a script writer was also on the trip.
[Editor’s note: Charlie was an 11 year old boy in Tsingtao — now called Qingdao — who was adopted by the Marines in 1946. They called him Charlie Two Shoes because they could not pronounce his real name.]
Tsui Chi Hsii, aka Charlie Two Shoes, 1947 and 2012
It was good to visit Tsingtao again. After 65 years, there was such a contrast between now and then. I just could not believe what I was seeing: all the high-rise buildings, the infrastructure, and the roads.
We were in Tsingtao five days and Beijing three days. In Tsingtao, we went to our barracks in the city. We saw our squad rooms and found our old mess hall. The parade ground had changed a lot. The Base Hospital and the Brig were gone. The L-3-4 and 1st Marine barracks were still there.
We went out to the Tsangkou air base, which is now a Chinese Air Force Training Academy. The church and beach were still beautiful. We visited the school Charlie had attended. He and two schoolmates, who were also on the trip, had a good reunion. Charlie’s village has not changed; it is still in poverty. This was Charlie’s first visit back since he left China on May 9, 1983.
The Air Base was under tight security. The security guard told us to get out, but we couldn’t understand him. When Charlie realized what was going on, he told us to move out quickly. They could arrest us and take our cameras and the bus.
It was good to spend some time in Beijing. We got to visit the Great Wall of China and the Big Square. There were so many historical places and leaders of the past in the museum. Their culture of art was also displayed.
We took a non-stop flight, about 13 hours each way. We stayed in 4-star hotels and had meals in three restaurants each day, ten different courses in each meal. It was a very rewarding and enjoyable trip.
Charlie Two Shoes, 3rd from left, with the Marines in Tsingtao, 2013
REMEMBERING TSINGTAO IN 1946-47
There is so much history about the North China Marines. The official count has ten Marines killed in action, thirty wounded in action, and twenty fighter planes shot down by the Communists. One of the Marines in L-3-4 was killed, and two were taken prisoner. They went outside the perimeter, which was surrounded by the Communists. They were driving a Jeep and were going on a hunting trip. They were ambushed and the Jeep was burned. It took a long time to get the two out, and a lot of ransom was paid. A friend of mine read an article which stated they had found thirty Marine graves in North China.
The Communists were engaging more and more against our troops. They were blowing up our trains, shooting at our train guards, trying to steal our ammunition supplies, and stealing from our fuel dumps.
One night on guard duty, I was one man on a fuel dump post. There should have been three men on that post, but the Marines were down-sizing so fast at that time, they were short of troops. The black market was stealing everything that wasn’t tied down. When I was on one end of my post, they were stealing on the other end. It was 2:00 a.m. and I was out there by myself. I had my M1 rifle, but did not want to shoot anyone. There were so many civilians being shot that the Colonel took our rifles and issued us shot guns. They would not kill you at short range, but would wound you.
There is much history about my duty in China, but I don’t remember a lot of it. Many of the China Marines had personal experiences, but didn’t live to tell about them.
Don Sexton in China, 1947
One early morning, our Platoon leader came into our squad room and told us we had a plane down 200 miles away. Lt. McNeely said the plane was down in a Communist village. The pilot phoned about where he was, then his phone went out. Lt. said this was our day to be on 24-hour alert and to fall out in full combat gear and get three bandoleers of ammunition. He said there were three DC-4 planes on the air strip waiting for us to depart.
We took off and flew over the communist and nationalist fighting. We located the plane, landed and surrounded the area where the plane was. The pilot was okay. His plane had to make an emergency landing and ended up in a grave yard. The wheels were marred up in a grave. The pilot flew back with us and the plane was retrieved before the communists got it.
Two of the Marines in my squad and I had just gotten dressed to go on liberty. We went out the front gate to get a rickshaw to take us into town to a restaurant. We had just gotten paid. Most of the fellows had the same idea on their minds, so there were no rickshaws available.
While we were waiting, this Chinese man in an old beat up car came by and said in his broken English that he would take us any place we wanted to go. I got in the front seat, and my buddies got in the back. As we rode along, I could not see anything familiar. I had not been to town this way. I tried to communicate with the driver, but he ignored me.
Suddenly, he turned into a dead-end street. I knew something was not right. About that time, eight Chinese men began charging the car. I made a split second decision to run. Our policy on the base was that we could not carry a weapon on liberty. I believe the Chinese men had some kind of weapon or they would not have attacked us.
As Marines, we hated to run, but I believe I made the right decision. We could have been hurt, or maybe killed. The Provost Marshall had told the Marines to never go on liberty alone. Some of the Marines had been attacked and robbed.
Charlie Two Shoes, who was made an honorary Marine in 2002, gave the commencement address at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri on May 12, 2013.
The trip that Don and Charlie took to Tsingtao was sponsored by the College. It is part of a program that pairs students with American veterans and takes them back to their battlefields or military stations.