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Women in the Air Force: Karamursel, 1969

Mary C. Davis


2006-2011 Mary C. Maguire Davis

A squadron for Women in the Air Force was established at KARAMURSEL, Turkey in 1969. We had a First Lieutenant as our squadron commanding officer. Our barracks building was next to the dining hall and had 40 rooms. I was the 40th WAF to be assigned there for duty. By the time my tour was up, there were 80 women assigned to the KARAMURSEL Common Defense Installation. I was a communications specialist and worked shift work with Able Flight. At right is a photo of our flight after we were awarded Flight of the Quarter in 1970. On our three day breaks, I enjoyed traveling around Turkey, especially to Bursa. It was quite a lesson for me to see the Muslim culture and the rather primitive ways some of the villagers lived. It really made you appreciate the USA.

 

(Click photo to view enlargement)
Front Row (L-R) Mary Maguire, Donna Strickland, Diane Brisindine, Tom Hoagland Back Row (L-R) Tommie Rhodes, Cesar Perez, John "Buck" Palmer, Russ Honda, Robert Beatty, Dale Hamilton.

I was sent to Germany to the hospital in the winter of 1970. When our military aircraft arrived back at Yesilkoy Airport, the leftist students were protesting outside the airport and the authorities did not want to send a bus loaded with American military out through the protesters, so we waited on the tarmac for several hours. Finally, they put us in a military ambulance and told us to remove all military insignia and they would try to drive us out thru the crowd. It was a rather tense group until we cleared the airport property and were on our way down to the car ferry crossing.

An interesting thing I did while stationed there was to obtain a Turkish drivers license. It absolutely amazed the Turkish man administering the test, that a woman would get a good score on the test since Turkish women rarely were able to drive. I had studied the drivers manual they gave me and after reading the examples of how their rules applied, I took the philosophy that if in doubt of the answer to the question, simply say the Turkish person had the right of way or the benefit of the situation. This worked out just right for the test and got me on the road with the necessary papers.

The KARAMURSEL Air Station was like a small town with everything convenient and within walking distance. We often stopped at the midnight movies at the end of our evening shift. I enjoyed the small steak house by the beach area which had excellent food and almost made you think you were back in the states. Shopping in Yalova or KARAMURSEL towns was interesting and there were some very nice items and bargains to be found. I still have many of the treasures that I acquired there and in the bazaars of Istanbul and Bursa.

When I originally arrived in Istanbul and was traveling from the airport to KARAMURSEL, I thought that I was going to the end of the earth! BUT after being there only a few days, I began to appreciate the adventure and learned quickly to eat out in town, shop and travel. It was an exciting tour of duty and has given me many fond memories and experiences that I couldn't have imagined before being assigned there.


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