SPC Jim Baldwin
© 2009-2011 by Author
I must confess: I was a drunk when I was in Ortaköy. Lost in sin. I got into fights with my fellow soldiers over there and it is a miracle I wasn't tossed out of the Army for striking a First Lieutenant while drunk one evening. I want to apologize right now for being a complete jack--- and making everyone's lives miserable who was there at the same time as me.
Now that that is off my chest I want to say that I will always treasure the memories I have of this time in my life. The Turkish folks were always friendly and willing to share. We had turkish chefs who cooked for us at the 10th United States Army Field Artillery Detachment for the first half of my tour, then regular Army cooks came in. We had a full gym, sauna, raquetball court, bar/lounge, officers quarters, and separate junior enlisted and NCO quarters. There was a library and a small PX. Not more than thirty of us were stationed there.
I was in commo 31c10. We had two man material which was required security for the nuclear rounds they had there. We went to surrounding towns for weekend visits, mainly Edirne, Gelibolu, or Istanbul. The "kerahanas" (otherwise known as "Compounds") were a frequent stopping point during our city visits. I'm fortunate not to have caught anything. I remember one visit to Istanbul when I got separated from the rest of the group - because I was drunk and got in a fight with someone who put me in my place - and I wound up LOST IN ISTANBUL!! I wandered around for hours, somehow winding up at the hotel that we stayed in for ten days when we first arrived in country and went through head start at Cakmakli.
I remember the first morning waking up in a muslim country and hearing the muezzin's muslim call to prayer cry at about 5:30 in the morning. I found the people who owned the hotel lived in the top floor penthouse. They invited me to eat dinner with them. It was during Ramadan which is where Muslims fast all day until a certain hour, then they eat. And boy! Did these folks have a feast! It was wonderful.
After dinner they did me the favor of calling the US embassy, who sent a car to pick me up. I remember the car had bullet proof glass mounted on the inside of the windows.
When I got to the embassy they managed to contact my detachment who finally got the message to the guys that I went to Istanbul with (pre-cell phone days) that I was up the road at the US embassy. Needless to say it was an adventure. The entire tour of duty was an adventure.
Tony Austin, Larry Allen, May, Poncho, SSGT Piccallo, Maj Reynolds, Sgt Washam, Sgt Parish, Kenny Piper, Wilcox (the cook), and others whose faces I can see in my memory but whose names I can't remember: I can see you all and wish you all well!
God Bless you guys.
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