Bill "Smokey" Stover 1962/'63
© 2011 by Author
Two Lives at Trab'
We were young patriots whose lives merged at a very special time in the history of the United States of America. We were asked to serve during the 'Cold War' which was not really a cold war at all. After being trained in all of the necessary disciplines, we were transferred from all over the USA and the World to Trabzon, Turkey. The new station was given the name TUSLOG Det 3-1 which is an acronym for Turkish United States Logistics Detachment 3-1. We came by ones and twos to this remote and isolated Air Station which was situated atop 'Boztepe' Mountain. Many of us knew absolutely no one else when we arrived. Some were fortunate enough to know others who came from the same training class or school back in the States. Although it was a 15 month tour of duty (457 days) which was designated 'Remote' Duty, we were truly isolated, in that we were completely separated from our country, our families, our value system, in most cases our religion, our way of live and from the protection of our government and our justice system. We were given very little training as to how to deal with or to react to the environment and society of Trabzon, Turkey.
Each of us lived two lives while at 'Trab'. We did our 'Top Secret' jobs day by day and night by night as USAFSS Airmen. When not on duty, we tried to be normal young men by passing time at the club, in the barracks day rooms, or in Trabzon and the surrounding countrysides and towns of northeastern Turkey. TUSLOG Det 3-1 was located on 'Boztepe' Mountain between the Black Sea and the Mountains, about 100 miles or so from the Soviet, Georgian, and Armenian borders. We were 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea'. The people there were fundamental Muslim and uneducated. Because their religion restricted relations with foreigners, we interrelated only sporadically with the local people. We were very vulnerable to abuse by locals, therefore we usually traveled together and in numbers of 3, 4, or more when moving about in the towns and environment. Only the very adventurous or very ignorant, traveled alone. Because we relied heavily upon each other, most of us aligned with one or a number of 'buddies', in order to survive the 'Trabzon' experience. We counted the days until we could be called short timers. We celebrated each milestone as we passed the time (457 days).
The 60's were the most dangerous of times in the history of the World Community. The two superpowers had amassed great numbers of nuclear weapons. USAF Strategic Air Command B-52's were flying high flight missions all over the world. They were in the air 24 hours a day. Each one carried 2 nuclear bombs. USN War Ships were cruising every ocean and at ready to launch Aircraft in retaliation for potential Soviet attack. The US had Missiles in the US, Turkey and other countries with nuclear warheads pointed at the USSR while the USSR had missiles with nuclear warheads pointed at Turkey and Europe. The US had been flying recon flights over the USSR for many years. A number of these aircraft were shot down over the USSR and at least one pilot had been captured. The Soviets were busy installing Missiles of all capabilities in Soviet controlled Cuba. As this buildup escalated, our intelligence community advised President John Kennedy that Cuba was installing Soviet built offensive and nuclear capable missiles. The 'Cold War' became very 'Hot' in October 1962 when JFK commanded the Naval Blockade of Cuba. The two Superpowers came face to face with potential nuclear war when the US Navy started to turn back the Soviet Ships which were delivering the missiles to Cuba. The Soviet President 'Blinked' when he commanded ships to return home. He then commanded the de-installation of missile launch sites in Cuba. Most people who remember those days, simply refer to the period as the 'Cuban Missile Crisis'. We remember those days as 13 days of destiny, because we were in the crosshairs of Soviet missile and mig weopanry. On November 22, 1963, those who were on the 'Mountain', gathered at the radio to hear that President Kennedy had been assassinated by an ex-Russian citizen.
The 60's were the most dangerous of times in the history of the World Community, and we were pulled together at Trabzon in order to provide eyes and ears to the Free World. We are proud to have served as we provided early warning for defense as well as intel for potential offense. We quietly arrived by ones and twos. We silently lived under the threat of attack with no visible means of protection and we did it because we were patriots. We celebrated for days as we readied to leave. We quietly left the 'Mountain' just as we had arrived 457 days earlier. Most of us returned to the United States to continue our lives, while many reenlisted to go on to other assignments in the silent world of the USAFSS. Because of the 'Top Secret' and 'Delicate' nature of the information we shared, we very seldom talk to 'outsiders' about what we saw, heard and felt, while on 'Boztepe' at Trabzon, Turkey, in TUSLOG Det 3-1.
My name is Bill 'Smokey' Stover. I arrived in Trabzon in July 1962 via THY and departed on THY October 30, 1963. I was Honorably Discharged at McGuire AFB, New Jersey November 15, 1963. I arrived home in Phoenix, Arizona November 21, 1963. My mother woke me late that next morning to tell me that JFK had just been assassinated in Dallas. I was awaken my first day home from Trabzon, November 22, 1963 to the news that JFK was dead. Three months later I enlisted in the United States Navy. After a year of training in electronics, radar, computer, radio, gyro, and crypto, I found myself on the USS Brinkley Bass DD 887, a Destroyer and Fighting Ship in the Pacific Seventh Fleet of the United States Navy. After more training in San Diego, CA, the Bass set sail and in a short time was stationed in the Viet Nam War Zone. After two cruises, many battles, and wartime incidents, I was Honorably Discharged from the United States Navy in February 1968.
I am in the process of writing three books. The second of my three books will cover life in the USAF and USN from 1960 to 1968. More specifically, life at Trabzon and aboard Brinkley Bass will take most of the paper of the book. Although the 'Cold War' and the Viet Nam War will be the stories behind 'the story', they will not be the focus of my book. Any information about the 'Cold War' will be general knowledge or de-classified. Individual jobs will not be described unless specifically named persons request coverage. Names will be used only when permission has been granted. Information about the Viet Nam War will be general knowledge which was never classified and most will come from my own Viet Nam experience. Stories from any and all who were 'there' will be used. The stories will be as deep and wide or as shallow and narrow as collaborators request. If you want to be recognized, give your name. If you want to protect your past, be anonymous in your gift of information. Because we were 'there' together, we were 'buddies' together, we were 'afraid, brave, proud and sometimes 'crazy' together, we respect each other and will protect each other in this life against those who may not know about our status as 'Patriots', 'Warriors', 'Heros', Airmen and Sailors. I will use any and all information which anyone may share with me, be it newspaper news, magazine stories, letters, pictures, personal stories, documents, fragments, dated material, and anything which may establish connections and timelines.
This document can be posted to any board which may be seen by the “Boztepe', 'Trabzon Turkey', 'TUSLOG Det 3-1', Class of 62/63. Any information shared with me can be sent to the address or email addresses below. Send copies if possible. Use email attachments when possible. I will scan and return any materials which are sent. Anyone who wants to be mentioned will be named. Anyone who is named may be asked to review, edit, or suggest changes to parts of the book as they go from draft to manuscript. Please contact me by mail or email. I will tour the US by motor home this summer in search of information to finally fill the gaps in my book. The book will go to print shortly after summer's end.
Bill 'Smokey' Stover
Return to Merhaba-USMilitary.com Page