Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseTam Kim-sui (Taiwanese in Peh-oe-ji: romanization: Tam Kim-sui; Mandarin in Pinyin romanization: Chen Jinsui) was born in the Nanya neighborhood of Shulintou area of Shinchiku (now Hsinchu), Japanese-occupied Taiwan in 1905. He attended the Shulintou Public School (now Beimen Public Elementary School) in Shinchiku and then moved to Taihoku (now Taipei) to continue his schooling. While in Taihoku, he saw a performance by American stunt pilot Art Smith, and was inspired to become an aviator. After completing senior high school in 1925, he moved to Tachikawa Cho, Kitatama Gun, Tokyo (now Tachikawa city of Tokyo), Japan to attend flying school. He was given his pilot certification in 1927, and remained at the school to work as an assistant instructor at the urging of an instructor named Kiguchi. In 1928, he sold some of his family assets in Taiwan and raised 25,000 Yen to purchase an old Newport trainer aircraft. The aircraft was broken up, transported to Taiwan, and reassembled at an empty plot of land at the location of the present day Hsinchu Park for an air show attended by thousands. Later in the same year, during another show, he suffered an engine failure and he crashed into a drainage ditch nearby; he was convinced, without real evidence, that the local Japanese government sabotaged his aircraft and unsuccessfully demanded money for repairs. In late 1930, using connections with influential extended family members in mainland China, he moved to Hankou, Hubei Province, China to join the Chinese Air Force, receiving the rank of captain upon entry. In Jul 1931, during Shi Yousan's campaign against Nationalist forces near Beiping, he flew missions bombing Shi's supply lines. Later in the same year, he flew missions in Jiangxi Province, China during the Nationalist forces' anti-Communist campaigns. In Mar 1934, he completed advanced studies at the Jianqiao Central Flight School in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Later in the same year, a reorganization of the rank system in the Air Force caused him to be ostensibly demoted from major to lieutenant. In Jun 1935, he served as an instructor of the Central Flight School facility in Luoyang, Henan Province for one week before he was reassigned to Guiyang, Guizhou Province to participate in the Fifth Encirclement Campaign against the Communists in Jiangxi Province. In 1936, while based in Xi'an, he was briefly detained during the Xi'an Incident. In late 1936, he was transferred to the 5th Headquarters Unit in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
ww2dbaseWhen WW2 began in China in 1937, Shanghai was among Japan's first targets. In Aug 1937, based out of the capital of Nanjing, Tam flew missions against Japanese positions in and near Shanghai. In 1938, he was transferred out of the cockpit and given staff positions. In 1941, he was placed in charge of taking delivery of 150 SB bombers and 150 I-153 fighters from the Soviet Union, securing parts for their service, and transferring them to front line units. At the end of the war, he was one of the officers dispatched to Taiwan to take control of Matsuyama Airfield (now Songshan Airport) ahead of men loyal to Chen Yi, as Chen was under suspicion of being disloyal (it was suspected that Chen wanted his own men to manage the airfield so he could use it to smuggle black market goods in and out of Taiwan; ultimately Chen would attempt to defect to the Communists in 1948, caught, tried, and executed). He would be made the commander of Matsuyama Airfield, now renamed Taipei Airfield, and would remain in this position for about three years.
ww2dbaseDuring the 228 Incident in 1947 in which Governor Chen Yi violently suppressed Taiwanese activists, Tam chose to remain loyal to the government and the Air Force, refusing attempts by his Taiwanese acquaintances to convince him to commandeer an aircraft at Taipei Airfield to rescue a group of armed Taiwanese civilians being surrounded by troops in Chiayi. Later in the same year, he ran for a seat on the Taiwan Provincial Parliament for his hometown of Hsinchu, but he would lose the election; during the election campaign, he personally piloted a trainer aircraft to drop leaflets over Hsinchu. Remaining in the Republic of China Air Force, he would successively serve as an officer attached to the General Affairs Department at Air Defense Headquarters, Deputy Commander of the Hualien Air Defense Command, Director of the Air Force Printing Factory, and Deputy Chairman of the Air Force Industrial Management Committee. He retired from Air Force service in 1962 at the rank of colonel. He passed away in Taiwan in 1995.
Last Major Revision: Apr 2022
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945
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