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DUTY AT TRABZON, TURKEY

John Duhaime

2003-2011 by Author



Life With the Barbed Wire Network

Hello from a former Trabzon Radio Maintenance guy. I got to Trabzon shortly before or after the shoot down of the C-130 over the border in Armenian. I was one of the guys who was involved with setting the new Low Frequency Beacon up at the transmitter site.

I had been assigned to Grunstadt before my transfer to Trabzon. I was informed in the summer of 1958 that I would be going to Turkey. I was sent TDY to South Rieslip England for a school on new teletype transmitting equipment which was going to be used at the mainsite in Karamusel. Once I finished the school I departed England for Turkey and was asked if I would like to go to one of our sites on the Black sea. Being a young troop who knew nothing about Turkey said sure. Where do you want me to go? Trabzon was selected and I left shortly for Trabzon on the Black Boat which took three days to get there. I was the only American on the boat and it was an experience that's for sure. As I recall, we stopped at Sinop, Zongoldak, Samsun, and a few other small places. I think it took three days to get to Trabzon.

Once I got to Trabzon I stayed in hotel right on the square. I think it was the best Trabzon had to offer in 1958. I do remember I was in a small two-bedroom with our local Protestant Chaplin for a few weeks. I remember we both killed bed bugs once the light was turned off and the bugs started crawling up the walls. We investigated and found a colony under one comer of my bed. The next morning a pack of DDT was obtained from somewhere and the bugs were gone.

I moved into a house downtown with a radio operator, ECM guy, and another radio maintenance guy. Seems like the radio guy was call SSgt Gallo. I do remember our NCOIC was a black Master Sargeant named Hundson, I think. I was assigned to a shift and was the only maintenance guy. We lived on Iki Sokak (Second Street)not too far from the PX/Club area.

It was a long year to say the least. I do remember the Blue Goose truck that took us up to Bostepe. After swings we walked down the mountainside at night. Its a wonder we didn't fall and kill ourselves but beer was waiting.

I did make a hunting trip in the middle of the winter, using one of our weapons carriers. I don't know where we got rifles, but we went to the interior about 100 miles from Trabzon. It was cold and we were after wild boar. We did not shoot anything but had an experience I'll never forget. I mean we were out in the back country where the people were just existing. It did impress me, and I knew we had the best country in the world.

As I said earlier I was involved with installing the new Low Frequency Transmitter for aircraft to use after the shootdown of one of our C-130s from Rhine/Main. We set the transmitter up to 222 kilohertz and I set our code to TBZ. It was a round disc which spun around and sent out in Morse code the identifier of T-B-Z. It was a 1000 watt transmitter and we had to install a counter-poise due to the grounding situation. It was new copper wire and was strung out in radials. This was wire that Turks wanted for some reason, so they just pulled it out of the ground and walked off with it. We did replace it and made sure it didn't get stolen again.

I had to check the transmitter site when I was on shift by myself. The transmitter site was about one mile from the main site and one night about 3:00 a.m. I went with our truck to check the transmitters and got stopped by a Turkish "Oscar" who had his rifle pointed at the windshield of my truck - with me in it. I jumped out and showed him my two stripes and he put his gun down. I was just a little worried I might get shot. Nothing happened fortunately and it was forgotten.

I do remember one evening, late - around 2:00 in the morning - one of my radio operator friends was having problems picking up the guy he was trying to copy. Our antennas were not the best, so what I did was connect a piece of wire outside the H1 van antenna connector and connected it to the barbed wire fence we had around the site. For some reason the fence acted the same as a Rhombic antenna and it worked great. I did this often, without anyone knowing except my radio operator buddy. It worked fine and he was a number one radio operator.

I also remember talking to our supply airplanes on the radio. For some reason I cannot recall, I was told to answer any calls on our UHF radio from any military planes coming into Trabzon. The supply plane had asked about weather conditions, and from where we were we could see the airport and the runway. I told the pilots it looked good for landing and no other planes were at the airport. It was a crude way to operate but it was 1958/59 and people were still being hung in the city square downtown Trabzon. I had heard about that but had to see it myself. To this day I try to forget seeing someone getting hung but cannot.

I was getting ready to depart and the site was being built: our operations building and the new barracks. I assisted in setting up the new VHF antennas and equipment in the new ops building. One of the "W" type VHF antennas was being raised by pulling ropes, and this antenna came upright, but someone forgot to put a back guy-wire on it and it came tumbling down! Not much happened to it but we had to move fast to get out of the way. How did we ever survive in those days?

I hope I brought a smile to a few folks who were stationed at Trabzon. I retired after 22 years in the Air Force. Later on in my career I was stationed in Izmir with NATO from 1968 to 1970 but that's another story...and in the meantime, my warmest regards to all who were stationed at Trabzon, Tuslog Detachment 3-1. That was a long time ago.


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