Larry E. Sanders
© 2003-2011 by Author
LACKLAND AFB, TX. FEBRUARY-MARCH, 1964
SHEPPARD AFB, TX. MARCH-JUNE, 1964
BOLLING AFB, WASHINGTON D.C. JULY, 1964-DECEMBER, 1965
IN«İRLİK AFB, TURKEY JANUARY, 1966-MAY, 1966
ISKENDERUN, TURKEY JUNE, 1966-MARCH, 1967
ELLSWORTH AFB, S.D. APRIL 1967-FEBRUARY, 1968
Before I start this story, I would like to acknowledge two very important people: MerhabaTurkey contributor, Al Cammarata, for his relentless encouragement to write this story. Without his encouragement I may have never posted it, and
Colonel Richard Pleasants, USAF Retired, who was one of my roommates at Bolling AFB (1965) as a young Airman Second Class, for being my editor.
I also have some points to make:
Number 1: Iíve been informed that most if not all of the activities I was involved in on my tours of duty have been declassified. I was issued a Top Secret Crypto clearance. Regardless of what has been declassified, I will not discuss any of my work or activities related to that, other than a casual Ďunclassifiedí comment.
Number 2: All references to rank are pre-October 1967. A one striper was an Airman 3rd Class (A3C), a two striper was an Airman 2nd Class (A2C), a three striper was an Airman 1st Class (A1C). Effective October 1st, 1967 the rank of A1C was re-designated as Sergeant (SGT), which is on my DD214 discharge papers. This was the Air Force way of pumping up our egos without shelling out any money. Any mention of SGT is after 10/01/1967.
Staff Sergeant (SSGT) four stripes
Technical Sergeant (TSGT) five stripes
Master Sergeant (MSGT) six stripes
Senior Master Sergeant (SMSGT) seven stripes
Chief Master Sergeant (CMSGT) eight stripes
Number 3: Names: Sometimes I mention first name only, other times last name only. There were those that we always referred to by last name and I never thought to get to know them up close and personal. Others, wellÖit has been forty five plus years. Then there are the Sergeants. Very few during my four years did I know by first name. They were just ďSargeĒ.
Number 4: I have blotted out AF # on documents and modified where necessary. The pictures provided have also been reduced or modified to fit the document.
The Road to Turkey, Part I
The road to Turkey started in my home town of Herrin, Illinois in November 1963 when I received the infamous ďGreeting and SalutationsĒ letter from the draft board requesting the honor of my presence in Saint Louis, Missouri to take the pre-draft physical and battery of test. This is the dreaded letter that I had been expecting for some time. I was already 21 plus years old and knew my time was near. Being over three years removed from high school and meandering around with no direction or goals in life, the time of reckoning was rapidly approaching.
I was directed to assemble in front of the county court house on a given date with a bunch of other meandering former classmates and guys from adjacent towns to board a bus for St. Louis (STL). After giving considerable consideration to what options I may have, I went along for the ride. After a day exposed to the Army physical and the test and returning home, much was on my mind. A few days later I called the USAF recruiter and explained what was going on and requested a meeting. Of course, once that door was open, there was no turning back.
The USAF accepted the results of my physical and test scores. I was given a choice of career fields to choose from. A far cry from what would have happened in the USA. I chose the communications field, specifically teletype operator (291x0). I had no clue what that was all about, but thatís the same field my uncle was in when he was in the Navy. He had talked to me on several occasions about finding a trade so I wouldnít end up working in the coal mines or a local factory like so many of our relatives had. My uncle was then working at the National Security Agency (NSA). So I decided to follow in his footsteps. I think he would have preferred I do it in the Navy as he did.
I was given a train ticket and a departure date. I was to report to the induction center in St. Louis and would be met at the train station. I was told to travel light and not to take over $10.00 with me. My scheduled induction date was
February 4th, 1964. However, when I arrived I was informed that they were so backlogged that it would be a couple days before the process took place. They gave me a bunk in an open bay environment and a meal ticket. Great! I have one change of clothes and ten dollars in my pocket. So the old clichť of ďhurry up and waitĒ started immediately for me. After my two day wait, I, along with a hundred other recruits, were sworn in. The following day, those of us that joined the USAF were handed train tickets to San Antonio, Texas and bused over to the train station for a 17 hour train ride.
Lackland AFB was the destination and if able to survive five weeks of basic training I would be off to technical school. I wonít bore anyone with the nitty gritty of basic training. Weíve all been there, done that. In February at Lackland it seemed like we froze in the morning and had heat exhaustion in the afternoons.
This is our mode of transportation to school.
Marching to and from school each day.
After five weeks of fun at Lackland, I got my orders for Technical Training at Sheppard AFB, TX. This time I boarded an Air Force bus and headed for Wichita Falls, Texas for more fun and games. A very full schedule is handed to all of us. This included our continuation of basic training activities for another three weeks and going to Technical Training for our chosen fields. I want to highlight some events, realizing we need to get back on the road to Turkey.
This picture was inverted by the developer. What it reads is as follows:
"3770th School Squadron
3720th Technical School-USAF"
After completing basic training requirements we were all given our first stripe. Now A3C verses Airman Basic. What a great feeling. My tech school training was twelve weeks long. Right before we started the training, all of the 29110ís were required to take an aptitude test to see if we would be put into Morris Code training instead of teletype training. It appeared to me some of the guys were in competition to show how smart they were. Not me! I wanted no part of that. It wasnít hard for me to fail a test in High School, this time it was on purpose. I went to teletype school, which on many occasions I thought was over my head. One day as I was answering a question from the instructor, another instructor walked into the room to get some materials for his class. After I finished talking the visitor asked me where I was from. I replied, Illinois. He said where? I said southern Illinois. He said where? I said Herrin. He said, I thought so. Turned out that TSGT Langston was from a small town called Hurst, which was about 10 miles from my home town. We seemed to have our own little dialog. A mix of north and south, as many settlers from Tennessee migrated to southern Illinois in the early years as did my grandfather. Another similar encounter happened one weekend day as I was in a souvenir shop in downtown Wichita Falls. The lady behind the counter heard me talking to the guys with me and asked me where I was from. Same story, same outcome. She was from my home town and had a niece that I went to high school with. It's a small world and getting smaller.
Once we were comfortable with our environment and had completed our basic training requirements, there were four of us from our class that would go into town on weekends and check into a hotel just to get away from the open bay barracks environment and to cruise the town. It was a cheap getaway with four guys sharing a room. Sure beat sharing a room with fifty other people.
A3C SANDERS, SHEPPARD AFB-OPEN BAY BARRACKS
After we completed tech school on June 23, 1964 and now a 29130, we were running in place waiting for our security clearances to be processed. More hurry up and wait. The same four guys, Airmanís Clausen, Jordan, Maxwell and I volunteered for a two week Temporary Duty (TDY) to perform cleanup duties at a military retreat at Lake Texoma which bordered Texas and Oklahoma. A military van took us up there and brought us back. By the time we got back we had our orders. I only mention this because Jordan got orders to İncirlik. Clausen and Maxwell went their separate ways and I had orders to go to Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C. via a two week TDY at Camp Perry, Ohio. At the time the military supported a national shooting competition of civilians and military personnel.
29130 Communications School, Sheppard AFB, Texas June 23, 1964
Turkey bound: Jordan 1st row 2nd from right
Future Turkiyeís: Sanders & Lockwood 3rd row 2nd and 3rd from left.
With orders in hand and travel money to find my own mode of transportation, I decided that since I joined the Air Force, I might as well get used to flying. I purchased an airline ticket and took my first flight. Departing Wichita Falls on a Braniff DC3 for St. Louis via Lawton, OK and another stop at Oklahoma City. My mom and dad picked me up at STL and I was on my first military leave.
One thing joining the military does to a young man who is used to having a job and bills, is put a crimp in the wallet. I had purchased a brand new, off the show room floor, Chevy II Nova Super Sports car in 1962. The first year the Chevy II was produced. Of course I had payments. With my military salary I was struggling to make the payments and even had my dad get my loan refinanced to lower the payments. This still didnít work. When I was ready to depart for Camp Perry I talked my brother into trading me his 1955 Ford for my Nova and he take over the payments. So it was, and the adventure continues.
Pre-planned rendezvous with Martin (Steve) Walker and George Lockwood, both from my tech school class was at the STL airport. Steve and George flew there and met me and we drove to Camp Perry. After a two week stay doing our TDY we all headed out to our first Permanent Change of Station (PCS) duty stations. Walker headed to Robbins AFB, GA and Lockwood and I headed to Bolling AFB in a beat up Ď55 Ford.
Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C.
Bolling was great. Finally a barracks with rooms! For the first time since I joined the USAF, I was in a room. Even though we had anywhere from two to four in a room, it didnít matter. It was a room! One of my roommates was Robert Michael (Mickey) Gaston from Griffin, GA. Mickey was on his second PCS and had been in Turkey. He used to throw Turkish words at me. Little did I know at the time I would experience the same. Mickey and I are still in contact to this day. Iíve seen him on occasion while on business in what he always referred to as Godís country.
1909th Communications Squadron, Bolling AFB
Another blessing for me at Bolling was being assigned to work on the crew of A1C Benjamin (BEN) Larry Meredith. A second enlistment Airman from Burlington, N.J. He became my supervisor and instructor. With his knowledge and the training he gave me, it didnít take long for me to pass my journeyman level test and I became a full-fledged 29150. It also didnít take long to get my second stripe and become an A2C. To this day, I believe Ben was the best communicator in the USAF and I had the good fortune of knowing him and being trained by him. I could write a chapter or book on Ben Meredith, he was a special guy. During my stay at Bolling, I was selected as Squadron Airman of the month twice. I couldnít beat out the competition and become Base Airman of the month, however.
A2C SANDERS, BOLLING AFB BARRACKS
One notable highlight during my stay at Bolling was at trip home for leave in the summer of 1965. I decided to try to catch a hop out of Andrews AFB, which was actually our home base for the Communication Squadron. I caught the shuttle bus from Bolling to Andrews not knowing what to expect or how long I would be there. Catching a hop was a bit of luck and pot luck. My destination was STL or anything close. Well, pot luck was on my side that day. There was one other Airman sitting there with me with the same destination. We hadnít been there an hour and we were paged to the counter. We were told that the Attorney General would be arriving shortly. His destination was STL and would give us a lift. We were given very specific orders to sit in the back of the plane and speak only if spoken to. Within an hour Nicholas Katzenbach, United States Attorney General arrived and we were on our way to St. Louis via an eight passenger jet at altitudes and speed that I had never traveled. It was like heaven in the skies. When my leave was nearing end, I called Base Operations at Scott AFB and requested any flight heading to Washington D.C. They informed me they had a General scheduled to travel to Andrews in a few days and gave me the flight information and booked me on the flight. My brother dropped me off at Scott and I caught my flight back. This is a neat and cheap way to travel if you had time.
Orders come in and I receive mine. Iím going to be PCSíed to İncirlik AFB, Turkey for an 18 month tour of duty. Why me?!!!!! I was thinking. Lockwood also received orders for İncirlik. This means that George and I pretty much have spent an entire enlistment together. I thought, Why me, for this also. When I got to work that evening, Ben also had orders, his to Vietnam. At that point, I thought Turkey wouldnít be so bad. Shots, orientation and travel arrangements were next in order. I was to report to İncirlik in January, 1966.
I shipped hold luggage and things I wanted with me to İncirlik, then loaded the Ď55 Ford. I wanted to stop in Chicago and see my best friend John, who had moved the 360 miles north from our home town to the windy city. A2C Paul Hamilton, also being transferred, asked if he could ride along because he had a grandmother in Chicago he wanted to see. Paul was on his way to the Philippines. We said goodbye to our friends and Bolling and headed northwest. We drove straight through to Chicago, stopping only for gas and an occasional snack. It was late night when we arrived in the Windy City and we drove around to find Johnís apartment. We finally did, parked and went to the apartment entry door only to find it locked. There were call buzzers in the entry but you couldnít get to them unless you could get through the front door. Not having a phone number for John we went back to the car. We ask a passerby if there was anywhere in the area we could spend the night. He said thereís a flop house around the corner. So we left the car where it was and went over to the flop house. The guy behind the desk asked us, ďDo you guys really want to stay here?Ē After going upstairs, we understood his concern. We were well dressed and groomed. The place was open bay (just like basic training), lined with cots and blankets. There were a bunch of dirty, mostly homeless guys, winos, etc. occupying the bunks. Most of those that were still awake gave us the once over. We were in no mood to be intimidated. We found a couple bunks side by side and crashed for the night. Nobody bothered us. Our cost was one dollar each for our bunk in the flop house. That was probably the night that ďNo FearĒ was coined. The next morning we went back to the car and checked to make sure nobody had bothered it then went across the street and this time got into the apartment building and paged my buddy John who buzzed us up. We spent a half day visiting him then I dropped Paul off and headed to good old southern Illinois.
Spending Christmas with my family for the first time since I enlisted and the last for several years. After New Years the time had approached and it was time to head to Turkey. I threw my dad the keys to the Ď55 Ford and said "sheís yours." Mom and dad only had one vehicle through all those years, so it lit up his eyes. Beat up or not, he loved it.
I headed out a day early and I was to meet Lockwood in New York the following day. But I decided to travel stand-by as it was cheaper. Traveling to New York in military dress, the tickets were at least half price. But you do take a chance of it taking much longer. So off I go. I grabbed an Ozark Air commuter from our regional Williamson County airport and headed to STL. There I got a ticket on TWA for New York. I had no problem getting to New York that day. I checked into a hotel for the evening. I called Ben Meredithís grandfather and talked to him for an hour at the request of my mentor. The next morning I grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport. At this time in my life I donít remember if it was LGA or JFK. Itís been too many years and too many airports past. As an afterthought, it would probably have been cheaper to pay full price for the ticket and avoid the hotel and transportation fees for going early. Oh well, that wasnít the last time I tried to be cheap and it cost me more.
We were told that we didnít need a passport to travel to Turkey. Our travel orders were all that would be needed. We were also required to travel in civilian clothes as we would be flying over communistís countries. When at the airport and waiting for George to show up, I realized I had screwed up big time. I didnít have a ticket! Panic sets in, but I waited for Lockwood to see if he does. He didnít. Well, at least Iím not alone. We went to the Pan Am ticket counter and explained the situation and showed our orders to the guy at the counter. He called someone from a nearby base and got authorization for our tickets. Guess we werenít the first dummies to do this. He knew what to do and got us over that hurdle. What we were supposed to have done was get our tickets through personnel at Andrews AFB, MD which was our personnel office for Bolling. Our Communications Squadron at Bolling was a detachment out of Andrews. Major screw up and fixed.
Boarding pass from New York
We had an evening flight. It was a long wait and a long day behind and ahead of us. Our flight was to take us to Paris and on to Rome, then to Istanbul where we would change planes and board Turkish Airlines to Ankara and then on to Adana. We boarded and sat in the smoking section. Another guy sat down next to us. When we are taxiing for takeoff the guy next to us says ďgoodbye New York for another six monthsĒ. I queried him as to where he was going. Just so happened he was an Airman that has been home on holiday leave from İncirlik. Another blessing has just been bestowed upon us. I didnít let that guy out of my sight until we arrived at İncirlik.
In no way did I think the road to Turkey would take this long. But the aforementioned events and people mentioned played a role in how we got to this point. Some will be mentioned again in the following stories. These were only the highlights of February 1964 to December 1965. The road ends and a new adventure begins.
IN«İRLİK AIR FORCE BASE (AFB)
TUSLOG DETACHMENT (DET) 16
JANUARY, 1966 - MAY, 1966
We landed at Istanbul airport and would then transfer to Turkish airlines to continue our voyage via Ankara and on to Adana. With my new found friend (name unknown now), I didnít let him out of my sight. He spoke some Turkish and was able to get our bags so we could move on to our next flight. Apparently they didnít transfer them for us in those days. I remember the smell of Turkish tobacco all around me and the word Obie being used quite frequently.
Boarding a flight from Istanbul to Ankara was the next step. I was assured it was safe to fly the Turkish airline as they had never had an accident. Landing in Ankara for a brief stop and then on to Adana. By the time we got to Adana it was dark and I didnít have a clue what time it was or what time zone I was in. Tired and weary traveler was I. An Air Force bus waited outside as we retrieved our luggage and then headed to the base. The driver knew where to take us and dropped us off at our new barracks. I thanked our flying companion for his assistance on the trip. He was in a different squadron and I didnít see him again. George and I checked in at the barracks desk. It was as large as a hotel and apparently the desk was staffed around the clock. We were assigned rooms and we headed off to them. I was lucky and got a ground floor, end room. George was upstairs somewhere. I didnít care. I was tired and wanted to hit the rack.
I drug my dead carcass and luggage down the hall and entered my new room. There were two first tour Airman there. Tom and Brian, last names escape me. Tom noticed my Illinois decal on my trunk luggage and asked if I was from Illinois. Turned out that he was too. But not anywhere near my little part of the world. He was from up north. The room was about three times the size of what I had been used to with four bunks and stacked. We chatted awhile and then I went into la la land for the night.
Day one at İncirlik was a busy one. It was about a mile walk from the barracks to the Comm. Sq. orderly room and communications facility. After reporting in we were given a check off slip and had to go to various places on the base for signatures on whatever it was associated with. We were to report back to the orderly room in the afternoon for our work assignments. When we arrived at the place where the hold baggage would be, we were given letters instead of our Ďstuffí. The letter stated that my hold baggage was destroyed in a warehouse fire and a claim form was included. Fortunately, I had carried my summer blues, one set of kakis and a pair of fatigues with me. I left my winter blues at home as I didnít think I would need them in Turkey because of the climate. It was disturbing though, since all of my uniforms were tailored and I wouldnít be caught dead in a baggy uniform. All of my little handouts from basic training were in there plus some valuable personal irreplaceable treasures. I immediately went to the Base Exchange and purchased the clothing I would need as replacements and found a tailor in a hurry. I also bought paratrooper boots in lieu of the G.I. Brogans. Thought they looked neat. Iíve carried those things around with me ever since. Eventually I was reimbursed for my losses, depreciation included, of course.
George and I decided to check out the chow hall around lunch time. We walked in and looked around and out of the back of the room pops up a guy who makes a beeline directly to us. It was Airman Jordan from our Tech school class. Jordan was just finishing up his tour at İncirlik and had orders back to the states. Donít recall seeing him again, but for that moment in time, we caught up on the time gap from the last time we had been together. After lunch and finishing up the paper mill, we returned to the orderly room to receive our assignments. George was assigned to work in the communications relay. I was Ďstuckí on the base switchboard. I was livid! Not in my wildest dreams did I think they would do that to me. This did not fit into my plans. More on this subject later. Anyway, they assigned me to the day shift until I was checked out. I was told to take a few days to get oriented to my new environment and report for duty on such and such a day. I was also warned never to point a camera toward the flight line. If I did, they would confiscate my camera and destroy the film prior to hanging me. So, consequently, I didnít take very many pictures on base.
Barracks, İncirlik AFB (background)
I headed over to the snack bar for a cup of coffee. I got my coffee and sat down at a table with another guy sitting there. He asked me if I was new and that he was on his way back to the states in a few days. He said he had some regrets about his time in Turkey and really didnít see much. One thing he always wanted to do was go check out Snake Castle. I asked him how far it was and he said I think itís about 10 miles. ďYou want to go? Iíll go with you,Ē I said. So we made arrangements to meet in the same spot the next morning and head to Snake Castle. Mind you, Iíve been in Turkey less than 24 hours.
Bill and I met in the snack bar bright and early. Both of us had issued canteens. I had just picked mine up the day before. We grabbed a bite to eat and out to the front gate we went. Let the adventures begin. Which way, I ask. He pointed in the direction he thought the castle was, so we headed out on foot. We had walked about two miles and then a tanker truck stopped. We jumped on the back bumper, one of us on each side of the ladder to the tanker top and held on. When the guy got to his turning off point he stopped and let us off. We asked how far to Snake Castle and he just motioned with his hand to continue the direction we were going. Back to footing it.
About a mile or so down the road an old farm tractor pulled over. We jumped on the back, with not much foot room. For those familiar with the 3 point hitch, there were a couple bars protruding from the back but would sway without the attachment on the tractor. They are called sway bars. That was our footing but it beat ground pounding. We rode a few miles with him until he came to his turn off. Then it was back to the highway and hoofing it again. I did mention to Bill I thought we had traveled more than ten miles and he agreed. Then here comes a guy with a horse and wagon. He stopped and we jumped on the back of the wagon. The first time we were able to sit down on our hike, ride adventure. It was slow going with the wagon, but by this time I didnít care. The rest was welcome. Then once again, we are let off when the farmer has to turn for home. Like the others he motions us to continue in the direction we are going.
Back to the pavement, but within no time a grain truck pulls to a stop. The driver asked us where we were going in broken English and motions us to get in. Inside! Sitting on a bench seat and it felt good. The guy converses with us as we travel along. Maybe a few miles down the road we can see this castle in the distance on a huge mound. It gets larger as we approach. The driver stops when he is about parallel with the castle, points, then with a finger walking motion is telling us we will have to walk the rest of the way. Not a road, but across a huge field. It looked like another 3 to 4 miles to hike then we would be at the base of the castle. I would have loved to take pictures of our hitch hike adventure but I was saving my film for the elusive castle. It might have provided proof of this story. Iím sure the Turks that picked us up were all thinking ďcrazy GIís, as we were.
SNAKE CASTLE view from the road
The following information was taken from the WIKIPEDIA web site:
ďYilankale, Yilan, Ilan-kale, or Castle of the Snakes is a large medieval crusader castle located east of Adana in modern Turkey,
built on a rocky hill overlooking the east bank of the Ceyhan river. Its medieval name is unknown - the "Castle of the Snakes" name is due to a Turkish
legend in which it belongs to the king of the snakes (Youngs 1965).
The castle and its impressive towers are visible from the highway E5 from Adana to İskenderun. Yilankale is one of many castles in the Adana area. It was built in the 11th or the 12th century, and was used by the Crusaders of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.Ē
Bill and I had a decision to make. We had already burned up a bunch of time just getting to this point. It was over twice as far as he thought and now we definitely have a hike in front of us. I didnít see any Nomads with camels to give us a ride. Considering the consequences of a bad decision, we decided that since we had come this far, we would continue on. So forward we go across the field and over the hill to the base of the hill where the castle was perched. From the above picture, it looks like a gradual slope, but it is steep.
AS WE GET CLOSER
CHECK THE CLIMB
As you can see from the picture on the right, this was not a climb for the meek and mild. It was rough going. But we headed up and got to our destination. Itís already going on 2 p.m. by now and we knew we were in deep trouble. No food, out of water and the possibility of spending the night inside the castle was good. If we started right then, we might get back to the highway by dark. Then what? We stayed where we were and investigated the castle. Regardless of what might be our fate, this was an adventure like no other I had ever experienced so I relished in the moments we had. When in the castle, we could see for miles. I could also see a road leading up to the castle from the opposite side from our approach. Where it led, I didnít know. But it wouldnít have made it any easier and probably more time consuming to have walked the base and found the road. Bill and I explored the castle for a couple hours with the lingering thought of ďwhat nextĒ. Then all of a sudden a car approached up the road to the castle. We think, maybe weíve been rescued. Sure enough, a guy, his wife and two kids get out of the car. We greeted them with open arms. Turned out the guy was a Captain from the base and he and his family decided to have an evening picnic at the castle. His wife said they made extra sandwiches and ask us to join them. They spent a couple hours investigating the castle while Bill and I waited patiently for a welcome ride back to the base. Guardian Angels do exist.
I had been in Turkey for less than 48 hours and already had an adventure I couldnít top. Although it has been more than 45 years since then, it seems like yesterday. One of those significant events that is embedded in the memory bank forever. I made one more trip to Snake Castle during my stay in Turkey but it was nothing like the trip Iíve described. I have added a few of the black and white photos from that trip. One that shows the steep climb that we had to make. Grateful were we to the Turkish people and the military family who came to our rescue that memorable day.
Larry checking the straight down view.
Steep climb, eh?
Larry, Second trip
Back to the base and itís time to go to work. Iím not happy with the assignment but I gottaí do what they tell me. The one with the most stripes wins. Switchboard operation was not part of the 291x0 training at Tech School. I suppose it fell under the category of ďother duties as assignedĒ. The catch-all that will allow the Ďstripesí to get you to do anything they want. The İncirlik switchboard was set up with four operating positions. Usually three were manned during the day and evening. If it really started lighting up during the day time the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of the switchboard would jump in and help. One Airman, one Turkish civilian interpreter and one Turkish Asker (soldier). The interpreter would work the boards with the Airman, but if the Airman got a call from someone who only spoke Turkish, the call was handed off to the interpreter. The Asker would only handle Turkish military calls and spoke little or no English. A1C Robert (Bob) Bell was my instructor for check-out on the boards. Bob was from New York City and was in the last six months of his enlistment. Another Airman who worked the boards was Mike Smith. The interpreters I recall by first name only were Uri, Mustafa and Ramazon. One Turkish Asker was Geten. SSGT Phillips was the NCOIC. There were others but these are the ones I recall.
After being checked out I was assigned a shift and was on my own. We only worked days and eves. The midnight shift was manned by one interpreter and one Asker. Fine by me, I hated mid' watches. Iím sure that with todayís computer and electronics age with a cell phone in every pocket, people canít imagine the way communications lines were connected in the 1960ís. There were no satellite connections and no e-mail. The communications lines were hard connects or radio airwave signals. Hard copy communications was done by teletype machine and torn-tape relay. A far cry from Al Goreís internet. We had phone connections through the switchboard to sites around Turkey and into Europe. If our lines to Europe were busy, we would alt-route the call via our connection to Ankara, etc. During slow hours, usually on the evening watch, I would chat with the people working the boards in Ankara. Their personnel were basically the same as ours, with military and Turkish interpreters. The difference being that they were in downtown Ankara instead of on a base. I suppose the military guys were assigned to the embassy, but I donít know for sure. There were a couple of Turkish girls that were interpreters that spoke better English than I did. One I remember as Emael, (not sure on the spelling), the otherís name I donít remember.
During my five months on the switchboard, I would approach different NCOICís attempting to get a transfer in to one of the communications centers. Besides the Torn-tape relay, there was also a Weather section manned by 29150ís. I donít remember the weather supervisorís name, but Iíve never forgotten the NCOIC of the tape relay. TSGT Martindale, a short out of shape lifer that couldnít pass a physical if his life depended on it. I pleaded my case with him and explained my career plans to unsympathetic ears. Martindaleís response to me was ďyea, when you go into Civil Service you will still be working for meĒ. With inference that he was going to do the same. I did however; find a friend and helpful staff sergeant. I can kick myself for not remembering his name. He was a tall blond guy that was a crew chief in the relay. He and I would walk to or from work together when our shifts overlapped. He was on an accompanied tour with his wife and lived in base housing. He asked me one day where I was from and I told him Illinois and he said
ďYea, me too. Did you ever run into TSGT Langston?Ē In reference to the Sargent I met at Sheppard AFB who was from Hurst, Illinois. He told me he was going to talk to the big guy. Senior Master Sargent (SMSgt) Kelly who over saw the entire communications operation. Wasnít long after that SMSgt Kelly approached me with an offer. He said he had an opening at the remote site of İskenderun and if I was interested, he would allow me to go down for 60 days and if I liked it I could stay for the duration of my tour of duty. I jumped on that offer. Iíll pick up the İskenderun tour of duty later. I still have some İncirlik stories to tell.
But first I fast forward to 1975. I realize this story is about Turkey and not my afterlife, but itís another one of those close encounters of another kind. Iím working in a state of the art computerized communications center in Kansas City, Mo. Whenever new people would come in I would chat with them and try to get to know them. One day a computer operator named Jessie Neely came through the door. I asked Jessie where he was before this job and he said he was retired Air Force, so that led to more conversation on that subject. I found out that he was at İncirlik and we actually overlapped a bit as I departed in 1967 and he arrived in 1967. I ask him where he worked and he said the switchboard. I told him about my experience there and my NCOIC was SSGT Phillips. Jessie informed me that he replaced Phillips. I replied with ďtoo bad youíre not TSGT Martindale. Then I had to explain that story to him. At that time I was the Supervisory Computer Programmer for all of the FAAís International, Domestic and Military flight movement, Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN). This is another small world story.
Now, back to the ranch: The barracks, the base, the town, the country.
Barracks life on İncirlik was good. The rooms were large enough that you didnít bump into your roommates as you moved around. My roommates both worked day shifts and I was the only one that had to work any eve watches. So there wasnít a constant interruption of coming and going at all hours of the day and night. There were so many people in the barracks you couldnít have known everyone. But making friends was easy. After all, we were all in this together. Most of the single guys were on foot as we didnít have the luxury of having a POV shipped over. So we had to hoof it wherever we went. My little loop consisted of going to work, the chow hall, the bowling alley and the BX. The chow hall food was okay, except for the milk that tasted like ground up caulk mixed with sewer water and the ice cream had a weird taste also. Probably mixed from the above milk solution. One of the first things I did when I got to the base was go over to the BX and buy a coffee pot for the room. I always had coffee on and a lot of guys would come over for a cup.
One of the hot items and popular with the G.I.ís was a Sony reel to reel tape deck. You could get around 6 hours of taped music on one tape if you bought the Gerard turn table to go along with it. When I got my first pay check I headed over to the Base Exchange (BX) and bought one. Long play albums were plentiful around the barracks and easy to borrow. I spent a lot of hours borrowing records and taping them onto reel to reel. I also bought a guitar from one of the airman that was transferring back to the states for twenty dollars. I tried to learn to pick and grin but there wasnít anyone around to teach me so I learned what I could on my own.
My other activity on base was a bowling league. I didnít know there was a bowling alley on base and only learned about it after my arrival. I had been an avid bowler in my home town and during my youth. If I wasnít at work, I was at the bowling alley. So I wrote my mom a letter and ask her to ship my bowling ball to me. In those days, we had airmail and boat mail. I didnít expect her to airmail such a heavy item. The live and learn experience and the cost of having kids. I learned that lesson later in life too. Mike Smith from the switchboard and I teamed up and recruited the rest of our team. We did win the league championship that year, but they ended up finishing it without me as I departed for İskenderun before the season was over.
There was an airman who lived in the barracks and worked as a ham operator. As a community service and Ďesprit de corpsí, he, in conjunction with another hammer stationed at the Pentagon would connect airman with their families. All you had to do was put your name on his list and he would take the request in order. Usually, a couple nights a week someone would be the lucky guy that got to talk to family back home. Everyone on the first floor would hear one side of the conversation. For some reason we thought we had to yell into the phone. The only phone was located at the check in desk on the first floor. The airman would give a heads up, time and date to the person that was next on the list to insure they would be in the barracks and ready for the call. When my time came around I was anxious and excited that I would be able to talk to the folks back home. The gottcha was that when you finished talking you had to end it with ďoverĒ, so the hammers could do their thing. My dad had difficulty doing this and got frustrated and I heard him tell my mom, ďHere, I canít do thisĒ and handed her the phone. It lifted our spirits to be able to do this, even if it was only one time. That was the only voice contact I had with my parents during my stay in Turkey.
On my first weekend at İncirlik, my new roommates, Tom and Bryan took me into Adana to show me around. We spent several hours going from shop to shop. I was intrigued with the atmosphere and the Ďold countryí. I loved the tapestries and the meerschaum pipes. I bought my first tapestry and pipe that day. And to this day the tapestry has always been draped over the couch that we have.
That evening they took me to a Turkish bar to see the floor show. I had a couple Turkish Berea while there. Unique taste to say the least. I watched my first live Turkish belly dancing show. The next morning I woke up with a headache that can best be described as someone continually hitting me in the head with a sledge hammer. That was the only time during my stay at İncirlik that I went to the bar.
I made several day trips to town catching the Air Force shuttle bus and was usually alone. Just walking around, taking in the sites and the atmosphere.
Roommate Brian, left, Turkish Merchants
Waiting at a traffic light
Awaiting a passenger
Turkish boy with gravestone
...and bathroom fixtures
One weekend day another airman and I were invited to go on a day trip with an Air Force couple and their 10 year old daughter. Just a drive with the destination of Castle by the Sea and anything else we found interesting on the way. Apparently I left my camera behind as I didnít have pictures from that trip but would return at a later date. A nice picnic lunch and a day of leisure. It was nice to get out and do something.
I had met an airman when I arrived on base named Clarence Chase. He lived in our barracks and we were friends and hung out together quite a bit. One day Clarence told me he bought an old BMW motorcycle and asked me if I would like to join him on day trips around the countryside. Of course I jumped on that offer. He worked in the communications center, so on days that we were off together, we would head out on the bike and tour the country.
Road warriors Chase (front), Sanders (back)
We made several trips before I departed for İskenderun. Our longest was probably to Castle by the Sea and Castle in the Sea. This time I took my camera and got a few pictures for the album. The following excerpt was taken off the internet from ďTurkey CentralĒ:
ďThe castle by the sea was originally built by the Romans as a sea gate. Various additions were made during the Byzantine era. The fortress is rectangular, and is made up of an outer and inner wall. Access to the fortress was achieved by a mobile bridge which doesn't exist today. The inner courtyard of the fortress contains a large hall, basilicas of various sizes, and a cistern.
The castle in the sea, or Maiden Castle, was built by the Byzantine admiral Eustathios in 1104, and is situated on a small island at the entrance of the old harbor. It's about 200 yards offshore and was originally connected to the mainland by a causeway. There are watch towers on the walls, a cistern, and a Byzantine basilica in the courtyard. Just like most of the castles in Turkey, Kiz Kalesi has an interesting tale:
One day a fortune teller told the king of Korykos that his sole and much-beloved daughter would be killed by a snake bite. In order to prevent that, the king built the castle in the sea and made his daughter live there. But even a king cannot change destiny. A snake brought onto the island in a basket of fruit bit his daughter, and she died. Exactly the same tale is told for the Kiz Kalesi, or Maiden Tower, in Istanbul which was built on the Bosphorus as a light house to guide ships.Ē
Castle by the Sea
Clarence and bike by the sea"
Castle in the Sea"
Larry Sanders, Castle in the Sea
Larry, Castle by the Sea
Please note: The sit-com Happy Days did not air until 1974, so
Arthur ĎFonzieí Fonzarelli, alias Henry Winkler, stole the look from me.
We took a trip to a place the Americans called ďHeaven and HellĒ. Two large adjacent craters or large natural caves. I was actually able to pull it up on the internet using that name and will paste it to this document. They do a better job explaining it than I would. I do remember the ruins of the temple and going into the holes. There were sheep and goat Sheppardís occupying the caverns in those days. I suspect today it might be a tourist attraction. The following is taken from ďTurkey Travel PlannerĒ.
ďThe Caves of Heaven and Hell (Cennet ve Cehennem)", near Kizkalesi on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, are worth a visit as natural phenomena, and also as historical points of interest.
As you approach the caves along the access road from the Mediterranean coastal highway, you'll see the lofty walls of a huge Temple of Zeus erected here in homage to the king of the gods who features prominently in the ancient myths related to the caves.
Park your car near the temple, make sure you're provided with a bottle of liquid to drink, enter the archeological site, and descend the 288 steps to the Byzantine chapel in the cave's mouth.
Look upon it as a nature walk: old trees, birdsong, seasonal flowers. The air cools as you go down along the mostly shady path to the great mouth of the cave, where the air is really cool and damp.
In the cool, damp atmosphere of the cave mouth, the rough stone steps can be slippery. Walk with care. If you are injured, it will take time for help to arrive.
Another 70 steps take you down to a flat area below the chapel, where it's blissfully cool, and a table and a few chairs provide a place to rest.
Yet another 97 steps and you are down into the cave itself, with enough natural and artificial light that you can walk without a flashlight/torch.
Heading up and out of the cave is daunting: over 400 steps to the rim! The restaurant there provides good cold drinks, snacks and light meals, and a shady, breezy place to sit and recover.
The Cavern of Hell (Cehennem) , 100 meters uphill from Heaven, is a smaller depression with steeper sides, 30 meters in diameter and 120 meters deep. Luckily, its walls are too steep to allow access, so you can't descend into it (in other words, you can't Go to Hell).
Of course, the two caves figure prominently in ancient Greek myths, according to which Typhon, a fire-breathing 100-headed dragon, battles Zeus, king of the gods. Zeus is defeated and imprisoned in these chasms. Hermes and Pan rescue Zeus, who goes after Typhon again, defeats him and buries him in the earth, but Typhon's fire-breath issues from the earth as what we know as Mount Etna, the active volcano in Italy.Ē
One last story with Clarence and the bike. We were riding down the road one day and all of a sudden we were out of gas. Nothing in the reserve tank either. Fortunately, we could see a small community about a mile ahead. We pushed the bike to the turn off to the village. Iím not sure what the name of the place was but it had a quite attractive entrance into town lined with palm trees. We pushed the bike maybe a block or two up that street. Clarence then said, you stay here with the bike and Iíll walk in and see if I can find gas. So I sat and waited, and waited and waited. About two hours later, here comes Clarence staggering down the street with a tank of gas. He was about three sheets to the wind drunk. He claimed the Turkish fellows told him he had to drink a quart of Rocki, a very potent alcoholic drink before he could have any gas. He said he sat with them and enjoyed the drink and the environment. We emptied the gas into the tank and went back and returned the can. Iím sitting on the back of a motorcycle driven by a drunk. We did make it back to the base that day, but I doubt that Clarence remembered it.
Itís time to wrap it up and pack it up. I had no idea what to expect with my pending adventure to İskenderun. I did know who I would be working with. Jim Williams was stationed with me at İncirlik and had gone down there about thirty days prior. But who I was replacing, I didnít know. When they tell you itís a remote site, you can imagine almost anything from sleeping in a tent to camping out in a cave. İskenderun was just a name to me, nothing more. I packed all of my stuff including my Sony reel to reel and guitar. I had no idea if I would be staying or coming back to the switchboard.
My Next Duty Station:
ISKENDERUN TUSLOG DET 181
IN SUPPORT OF UNITED STATES ARMY (USA) DETACHMENT 33
JUNE, 1966 - MARCH, 1967
I was met at the barracks by one of the Turkish drivers from İskenderun. They made runs to the base at least once a week for supplies. This time I was one of the supplies they were after. The driver helped me load my things on the truck and we headed out. He said they called him ĎShortyí and we chatted during our trip to İskenderun getting to know each other. Shorty was fairly fluent with English and that was a good thing as my Turkish was "Áok-fena" (very bad).
When we got to İskenderun, I thought I was dreaming. The oasis I was seeing was not a mirage, but it was the Mediterranean Sea. A seaport community and the Air Force thinks this is remote? Well, okay, fine with me. When we got to the compound, I was greeted by the airman I was to replace. Charles Kellogg was about to rotate back to the states. He was called Chuck or "Flakes" in reference to Kelloggís Corn Flakes. Chuck took me upstairs, going through the kitchen into the living quarters and down the hall to a vacant room. He showed me my room and the communications center was right across the hall. I couldnít believe this. Iíd been walking at least a mile each way to work and then two or three trips a day to the chow hall at İncirlik. Now Iím twenty feet from my place of work and a hundred feet from the chow hall. I was already thinking heaven on earth. Chuck helped me unload and get my stuff up to the room.
My room across from the communications center.
Then Chuck introduced me to the Turkish staff inside the living quarters. There was the cook, Cussum (Cuz) Tat, kitchen help, Turkon and in the barracks area the cleaning ladies, one was called Mamason, an older lady. Through the eyes of a not yet 24 year old guy, I thought she was probably in her late 60ís. But looking back now, I suppose late 50ís or early 60ís would be more accurate. The other one was a young girl named Esmahon. Chuck told me that the funding for these four people came from the G.I.ís. This meant that the salaries for the help, plus the cost of meals came out of our meal rations money. They didnít make a lot, but they were all grateful to have jobs.
Turkon, kitchen help
Cus, our cook and Larry Sanders
The double doors behind Turkon go into the recreation (rec) room where we had a pool table, ping pong table, a piano, books and chairs. On most nights after everyone was finished working, that was our place of congregation. The door that Turkon is facing led to the balcony and stairwell going downstairs into the compound. Cuz and I are standing on the balcony outside the kitchen and rec room. I never did get pictures of the two cleaning ladies.
Chuck introduced me to the military personnel as we encountered them. I already knew Jim Williams from our time at İncirlik together. The only other full time Air Force guy was SSGT. Jerry Detour. He was responsible for maintaining our generator and keeping the facility communications up and running. The rest of the full time military crew was U.S. Army (USA). A couple of refrigeration airman would show up, usually when a U.S. cargo ship was in the harbor. They are A1C Gary Ruckman from Eugene, Oregon and A2C Gary Carlson from Belle Fourche, SD.
The following information was provided directly from Gary Carlson:
ďGary Ruckman & I were assigned to the İncirlik Commissary Cold Storage Plant. I believe Gary Ruckman had a Commissary AFSC & mine was a Materiel Facilities Specialist (64750) assigned to commissary warehousing duty. Our job at İskenderun was to see that the chill & frozen subsistence to support/feed U.S. troops in Turkey & Iran was offloaded from the ships that came in monthly from CONUS; we verified manifests as to quantities & weight; temporarily stored items at the Turkish contract freeze plant; uploaded refrigerated trucks sent from İncirlik on a weekly basis; and most importantly kept things from disappearing between the ship and arrival at the cold storage plant at İncirlik.Ē
The Army crew was understaffed when I first arrived. There were a couple of older sergeants who were in their fifties and werenít in very good physical shape. Sergeant Seal was the designated 1st Sergeant. Sergeant Misdorf seemed to be the one that gave all the direction and guided the daily work. Iím just not sure what MSGT. Seal did. There was also Staff Sergeant Moore in the group and a few others whose names escape me. Then the yard crew consisted of Turkish workers that I was introduced to later. Chuck took me over to the Commanders office and introduced me to the Lieutenant Colonel that was in charge of the operation. Maybe one other time during his stay did I run into the Colonel. He also introduced me to Major Gaddy who was second in command. Major Gaddy will appear again. My thought at the time was this is a bit of overkill in command based on the number, or lack of, enlisted personnel.
Back to the communications center. Well, not quite what I expected or what would help me gain the experience or the skill levels that I was looking for. This was the most archaic equipment I had seen in my limited experience with comm. equipment. There were a couple of Model 14 and Model 15 Teletype (TTY) machines on the floor. Two each, one of each model was connected to the comm. lines. One was used for sending and the other for receiving data. The other set of equipment was the backup (which would be needed later). I had experience with both the Model 19 and Model 28 TTY. Those machines would do both functions of send/receive depending on the setting of the toggle switch. But thatís now history and Iím looking at clunkers and chunkers. The phone equipment was even more laughable. It was a Double E8 (EE8) hand crank battery operated phone that was used in World War II. This was connected directly to İncirlik switchboard via our engine generator. SSgt. Detour had a technique where he could whistle into the phone and get it to ring the base. I couldnít whistle very well and I had to use the crank. The crypto method used was about one step above carrier pigeon. A far cry from the crypto methods I used with my daily visits to Generalís Row at Bolling AFB. This is it, deal with it or its back to the base switchboard.
Larry hard at work
Obviously a T-shirt environment! It got hot in the comm. center. During my entire stay, we never had an Air Force visitor other than for Teletype (TTY) maintenance.
Jim Williams gave me the rundown on the comm. center operation and what our responsibilities were how we would work, etc. Come to find out we were just a part time station open during normal hours during the day and off on weekends. Chuck didnít hang around for any more of that but didnít leave for another week. SSgt Moore, USA grabbed me and said he would show me around town. He was career Army and was due to rotate back to the states within a few weeks. I hung out with him for that period of time and he took me everywhere and showed me his hangouts. I was much appreciative of his efforts on my behalf.
The weekend before Kellogg was to leave, the people in the barracks decided to give him a beach party at a site called Payas Castle built in the 15th century and has a 1300 year old olive tree in the courtyard.. Never one to miss an opportunity to see and do new things, I tagged along. Payas was around 14 miles away from İskenderun. The castle sits by the Mediterranean Sea but not to be confused with the aforementioned Maidenís Castle by the sea. It was a very interesting place and a great setting. It was party time for Chuck.
Bottom row l-r: Kellog with Swim Hat; Sanders; Sanders and others
Above: Kellogg, unidentified female and others.
Above: SSGT Jerry Detour
I had several other pictures of this trip, but most are too dark to use. As it is the above pictures were converted from forty plus year old slides to pictures and then touched up to lighten them enough to use.
It was decision time on my part. Not to appear overly anxious, I waited about a week to call SMSgt Kelly and tell him I would accept a PCS. Although I think Iíd made up my mind on day one. If I had gone back it would have been to the switchboard and even though this didnít get me what I wanted, it beat the boards. I also had to decide if I would have my tour pro-rated or continue with the eighteen month assignment. İskenderun was considered remote and it was a twelve month tour. I was on an eighteen month tour with five months completed. If I stayed for eighteen months I was eligible for an early out. If I had it pro-rated I would have to do another tour in the states. I decided on the pro-rated tour because I felt I needed more experience in a real communications center before pursuing a career in that field. If I had made the other decision, my kids and grandkids wouldnít be reading this as they wouldnít exist. I met my wife on that last tour of duty. So the pro-rated tour gave me nine months of paradise in İskenderun and a total Turkish tour of duty of fourteen months.
The first month was fairly uneventful. Jim and I would go down to the local pavion occasionally. Our bar of choice was called the Moulin Rouge. At least thatís what the G.I.ís called it. The bar manager would let the G.I.ís run a tab if they wanted to and pay up on payday. I never did that. It was pay as you go for me. Jim liked to run a tab. We would usually go in just before the floor show started, stay until it was over and head back to the barracks. It never failed, every time I had a Turkish beer, I would wake up with one of those sledge hammer headaches. But I kept it up during my entire stay at İskenderun, headaches and all.
I had met a Turkish gentleman shortly after I arrived at İskenderun. He would come over to the compound frequently and just hang out with the guys. His name is Niem Gul. He was a pleasant fellow and obviously knew his way around. The guys seemed to accept him even though he wasnít directly associated with our compound in any way. Niem rode a bike all over the place and sometime I would just encounter him on the streets. After comparing notes with Al Cammarata, who was in İskenderun five years prior also knew Niem. See picture below and notice the bike at the bottom of the stairs. That was his mode of transportation.
Niem Gul, always a smile on his face.
July was rapidly approaching and we had a four day break over the holiday. I wanted to do something different so I decided to go to Ankara. The people that I used to chat with from the switchboard had told me what a great place it was and I wanted to see for myself. I would be doing this alone and it would be another one of those adventures of a lifetime. Niem guided me all the way. He went with me to the bus station and helped me purchase a round trip ticket to Ankara. When the evening of departure came, he went with me to the bus station and made sure I got on the bus okay. The bus was old and had hard bench seats, no noticeable shocks on the bus and a rough rider. It was going to be a long ride. The Turkish people on the bus were pleasant. Smiling and probably thinking crazy G.I. One guy spoke broken English and he kind of looked after me on the trip. Letting me know when and where we would be stopping. Once for an evening meal, he and I had lamb at his recommendation. As we traveled the dark road and through the mountains at night we came around a corner only to meet another bus south bound. As the buses passed, they bumped into each other at the back of the buses as there apparently wasnít enough room to pass. I thought I needed to change underwear. Both busses continued on without stopping as nothing had happened. Thinking to myself, will I get out of this alive? Fortunately, nothing else happened on the trip and we arrived in Ankara safely.
After arriving at the bus station in Ankara, I got into a cab. The driver asked me where I wanted to go. I replied. ďOtelĒ. He shrugged and said which one. I motioned back, I donít know, downtown somewhere. He said, ah, I know, G.I.'s like this place! And he took me to that hotel and dropped me off. Obviously, I was ill prepared for this trip. I hadnít even made reservations anywhere. But it worked out as they had rooms available. Since that trip from İskenderun took most of the night, I was dead tired and just crashed in the room. By the time I woke up and got something to eat in the outside restaurant, I had wasted over half of my first day.
My Ankara Otel
While I was eating an airman from İncirlik walked up. His last name was Van Winkle. I always called him Rip. He was there to meet his dad who had flown over for the four day weekend. That was the first and last I saw of Rip on that trip and forever afterwards. I never ran into him again.
My weekend in Ankara was interesting and uneventful. I went around and saw the things I could on foot and others things, used a cab. Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a cab and go over to the switchboard. I had their address but hadnít told anyone I was coming. I just wanted to meet some of the people I spent five months talking to while at the base. I figured my chances were slim since it was the weekend, but went anyway. As I was walking up to the switchboard building a Turkish girl came out of the building and walked passed me and I spoke to her. She got about five steps and turned around and said, ďLarry?Ē I said yes. She said, Iím Emael. We shook hands and she took me back into the switchboard, introduced me to the people working the boards, none of whom I had talked to while I worked the boards. We then went back outside, a beautiful July day in Ankara. We chatted for about an hour and went our separate ways.
A walk around the park:
|Girl on park bench
||Walking the streets
Upon arrival back in Adana, I got a big surprise. There were only two of us going on to İskenderun. Guess what? The bus company said they would not take the bus all the way to İskenderun for two passengers and that we were on our own. The other man appeared to be a Turkish business man, well-spoken and well dressed. He asked me if I would like to share a taxi with him, which I did. We chatted all the way to İskenderun and the driver took me to the compound to drop me off. When I reached for my wallet to pay my share of the ride, my traveling companion said donít worry about it, Iíll take care of it. What a gentleman he was. I thanked him and headed up the stairs and to my room. A fast, furious adventure was over. It surely would have been more fun if someone had gone with me, but I guess nobody else had the adventurous spirit or maybe they were just smarter than I was. It also took a lot of compassionate and understanding Turkish people who helped me through the trip. Iím sure some of them had stories to tell too.
About two months into my stay a mass rotation took place among the Army troops. The Colonel departed and was replaced by another one. Most of the Army field personnel had filtered out during those two months and about the only ones left were Misdorf and Seal, neither of whom were going to do the real work. A bunch of young troops arrived simultaneously. There was Victor France from Baltimore, Md., Bill Arnot from Youngstown, Ohio, Terrence (Terry) Shank from California, Bill Reardon from northern Illinois, Danny Kenney from Alton, Illinois, Ben Caruthers, a southern boy, but donít know where and Reece Hunter from somewhere in Georgia. Most of these guys were fresh out of high school and boot camp. They sure did liven the place up. The new Colonel, name escapes me, was a Harvard graduate. He wanted everyone to know that. That much I remember about him plus a few other things which will be discussed later. Once those guys were settled into their new environment, I took them all down to the Moulin Rouge for their first experience in a Turkish bar and the floor show. I think all of them fell in love with one or more of the dancers that night. But all of those girls were off limits as were all Turkish women to Americans. But there was a bit of a twist to that statement and I will explain it a bit later.
It didnít take long for the new Colonel to figure out he had a Ďmajorí problem. Major Gaddy had a Ďmajorí drinking problem. The previous commander supervised by avoidance. This one took action. Major Gaddy was sent back to the states and directly into rehab. I felt sorry for him but didnít appreciate the fact that every Sunday he would show up around noon time and eat the cold cuts that the cook had stuck in the refrigerator for us. That was supposed to be our Sunday meal and the only day off for the cook. The Major didnít contribute to our purchase of food and supplies.
How I spend my Sundays, by Major Gaddy
There were a couple civilians that would show up at our compound about once a month. They were oil riggers, laying pipe in the Arab world. I suspect they were the engineers overseeing the project. They would come to İskenderun just for some American company, stay in a local hotel but spend their time with us. They were very welcome as we usually went touring with them on the weekends. We went to places like Black Castle, Mersin, Tarsus and Antakya. Some pictures of black Castle and Antakya will be included. I donít know what happened to the Mersin and Tarsus pictures. I donít remember either of those oil guys by name, but they were always welcome at our camp.
The following are a few pictures taken on a trip to Black Castle with the oil riggers:
Caruthers and Ruckman
Caruthers and Ruckman
Caruthers and Sanders
My buddy and co-worker Jim Williams (at left) received notification of the passing of his grandmother. Jim was from Columbus, Ohio and he made arrangement with personnel to go back to the states with a Permanent Change of Station to Wright-Patterson AFB. Jim was able to catch a transport plane back to the states, so this all happened quickly. One day heís with you, the next day heís gone.
When Jim departed, I was alone in the comm. center for a couple months until a replacement transferred in. I suppose they could have sent another TDY troop from İncirlik, but they didnít. I think they realized that I wasnít going to be overwhelmed and one of the reasons they had two people assigned to the comm. center was for times like this.
Being the NCOIC of the comm. center was like supervising an empty waste basket. Jimís departure did create a bit of heartburn for me though. Word got back to the manager of the Moulin Rouge of Jimís departure and Jim had left quite a hefty bar tab. On my first visit to the bar after his departure, the manager approached me and asked me if Jimmy was gone. I replied yes. He shows me a tab with several receipts signed by Jim. The rest of the conversation went something like this: Manager: Jimmy your friend, you pay. Me: No. Manager: you pay, get money back from Jimmy. Me: No. He went away. Next time I go in, we go through the same routine again. By the third time he did it, I walked out. After that, he didnít bother me anymore.
During my time alone at the comm. center SSgt. Detour had scheduled leave and was going to Germany to visit his wife. Jerry gave me a crash course on how to operate the engine generator. Power up, power down, test phone lines, etc. They didnít have anyone at the base to fill in for him and I was his only hope for leave. I did it but was nervous the entire two weeks he was gone. Fortunately, nothing went wrong while he was away.
One day Iím in the comm. center and not much activity going on. Usually during quite times I would update the routing directories. There was several yearsí worth of updates that had never been done to the JANUP 117 routing files so I worked on the updates, using the dates on the posted change, working from the oldest to newest. I think during my nine months at İskenderun, some of the addresses I modified numerous times. So Iím working along and all of a sudden I smell something burning. I turn around and one of the teletype machines is on fire. I yelled for SSgt. Detour and he came running with a fire extinguisher. He got the fire put out and we powered down the comm. center. Jerry and I disconnected the machine as it was one of the primaries and we put a backup in its place and then got the power back on and tested it out. I then contacted the base and reported it to TTY maintenance. They came down in a few days and replaced the equipment.
FIRE IN TELETYPE MACHINE
I had asked Niem about a good shop to buy meerschaum pipes shortly after I met him. He took me to a shop and introduced me to the owner. I would usually buy one or two pipes a month, sometimes three. I was into the ones with the carved faces on them, not the plain pipes. I loved the art work and for me it was just a collection since I didnít smoke a pipe. One day Niem went into the shop with me and the owner announced that he was getting married. He invited both of us to his bachelor party. I thought that would be a great cultural experience and it was. They had rows of tables set up and another table up front for the guest of honor. Live Turkish musicians were on hand. That could not have been a cheap shindig. They played traditional Turkish music and every once in a while, a Turkish guy would get up and start dancing the traditional dances. The attendees started chanting for me to get up and participate in the dancing. I was reluctant, since I didnít know what I was doing. But I finally succumbed to the pressure and got up there. I didnít have a clue what I was doing and decided to do the Twist. The Turkish guys started laughing and cheering. Next thing you know they were coming up one by one and stuffing lira into my pockets. I had lira in my front pockets, back pockets and my shirt pockets. When the routine was over, I went back and sit down. Niem told me it was the custom to take the money and put it in the box that was at the table with the future groom. Startup money for the new couple. Darn, I thought Iíd found a way to make a few bucks doing the twist as a part time gig! It was a great and enjoyable evening.
Speaking of the pipes, I had mailed a package back home. I wanted my parents to see some of the things I was getting while in Turkey. I sent five tapestries and five meerschaum pipes home. Everything I sent home was boat mail because it was much cheaper. I received my boat mail letter back from my mom about what I had sent. The entire correspondence took about two months. So, my mom says we really enjoyed seeing what you sent. I gave one each of the tapestries to my three sisters and your dad gave two pipes to one uncle and two to another uncle and kept one for himself. I was absolutely dumbfounded over that. I never expected that they would consider giving my Ďstuffí away. All of them were making probably twenty times the amount of money I did on military pay those days. Needless to say, I didnít send anything else. I just held onto it and eventually shipped everything back with my hold baggage. I still have over twenty meerschaum pipes and half dozen tapestries.
I was downtown one day walking around with Gary Ruckman, our Air Force refrigeration guy who blew in and out of town with the wind. Gary said he needed to stop at the tailor shop for a fitting. So we went there and after we left, I queried him about his tailored suit. When he told me the cost, I couldnít believe it. I had paid twice that much for a suit off the rack at J.C. Penney back in the states. Next time Gary went to the tailor, I went with him. Gary helped me pick out material. He was more educated on the subject than I was. We settled on a material called sharkskin. I chose two colors, dark blue and a gray. I had the tailor make me two custom fit suits at what was an absolute bargain.
Enter SSgt James Bailey (left). After a couple months alone in the communications center, I had company. Bailey was from California, but transferred in from Duluth, MN. I gave Bailey his crash course in our operation. He was career Air Force, so it didnít take long. NOTE: Ed Robertsís article on Merhabaturkey indicated Bailey was a TSGT. Bailey is the link between my tour at İskenderun and that of Ed Roberts. Sometime after my departure, apparently Bailey got his fifth stripe. Even though nobody but the Turkish Ďrunnerí showed up, Bailey was in dress blues every day. I donít ever recall him wearing fatigues. He would remove his jacket as indicated in the picture below. The local brass never entered the enlisted personnel living quarters and that is where the comm. center was located. So why dress blues? I only remember Bailey leavening the compound once during our stay together. That was on New Yearís Eve and I have the picture of that too.
The equipment to Baileyís left in the picture is the engine generator communications Ďboxí. All of our comm. equipment funneled through that box. I was told by Ed Roberts that the equipment was not there when he arrived. Iím not sure where they put it.
About once a month the base chaplain would come to our compound and conduct a Sunday service. Colonel ĎHarvardí made it mandatory attendance. Funny thing though, you never saw the colonel or the major at this monthly services. At a service in the fall of 1966, the chaplain announced that he was putting together a religious retreat to Egypt, Jordan and Israel for early in 1967. Anyone wishing to go should sign up for the event. Gary Carlson, the other Gary in the refrigeration team and I discussed it and decided we would like to do that. So we signed up. Problem was you needed a passport for the trip. I didnít have one so I sent one of my very few air mail letters to my mom and asked her to send my birth certificate. When it arrived, I went to the embassy and got the process going to get my passport. Iíll discuss that trip when the time comes. But we arenít out of 1966 yet.
During the fall more new faces arrived at our compound. Major White arrived to replace the long gone major Gaddy. From my eyes and looking in from the outside, being Air Force, I thought it was quite a bit of overkill having a colonel and a major on site for the amount of Army personnel in Detachment 33-3. Surely a captain and lieutenant could have accomplished the same mission. But what do I know; Iím just a grunt enlisted man. The old clichť of ďyours isnít to reason why, yours is to do or dieĒ applies here. A couple of army enlisted men also arrived. SSgt Gladden, from New Orleans arrived. He was in Korea prior to this assignment. Another career army man came in about the same time. Gradey Hatton had been around for a long time. He said this was his second tour in İskenderun and he had been there about ten years earlier. He said nothing had changed in the time from his first assignment and now. I asked him why he came back and he said he liked it and knew what to expect. A couple new Air Force faces came aboard also. A2C Luther Diggs, another refrigeration guy, replaced Gary Ruckman. A2C Cooter came in, apparently as a permanent change of station (PCS) to train with SSgt Detour on the generator and communications box. He would be given on the job training (OJT) by Detour. I suppose he stayed and replaced SSgt Detour when his tour of duty was over. Cooter was still there when I left.
I had mentioned the Turkish girls being off limits earlier and will discuss this now. This was an unspoken off limits and had more to do with customs and religion than anything else. There was another part of the customs that wasnít taboo though. It had to do with the Turkish Compound. Colonel ĎHarvardí declared this facility off limits to military personnel once he discovered it existed. To my knowledge, none of the military personnel participated in this activity anyway. But here are two separate stories that did occur. One during the fall of Ď66 and the other early in Ď67. I will not mention the names of the military personnel for the protection of the innocent. I did mention that most of those guys that transferred in were young and fresh out of high school. They do have a tendency to fall in love in a hurry. One such Army Specialist started going to one of the local bars and got to know one of the bar girls. I was never with him nor did I ever meet her and I got the story from him. I donít think they ever had a real date and it was just the bar scene and ďbuy me a drinkĒ routine. But the army guy fell Ďin loveí with her. One night he asked her to marry him. She started dancing around singing ďIím in love with and American, Iím going to marry an AmericanĒ. To re-iterate, I got this from the troop himself. The next day he told me what his plans were and what happened the night before. I suppose I was his Ďbig brotherí and I gave him big brother advice. I told him he had to discuss this with the colonel. He went to the office and talked to the colonel. He came back dejected. Of course, the colonel nixed the idea and told him to stay away from the bars. I think he even confined him to the facility other than work related duties for about sixty days. The colonel did the right thing and I expected those results.
Iím going to add the second incident now although it didnít take place until after the first of the year. The rules are the same, no names to protect the guilty. Yet another of the Ďyoungí Army specialist apparently got involved with one of our employees. I donít know how or when and it must have been a sneaky affair as I was totally oblivious to it. That is until the day of the announcement. We are going to get married. Boom! All of us that heard it fell to the floor in astonishment. A couple days after this, all hell broke loose. The girl had told her family of the plans for marriage. Iím not sure how many, but I heard five brothers came to our facility and demanded to see the colonel. He was caught off guard with this just like the rest of us were. Demanding to see the colonel was just the beginning of their demands. Iím sure I am exaggerating a bit, but here I go. They wanted money, stocks and bonds, chickens, goats and cows for the hand of their sister. I wasnít privy to anything that went on in his office but I did witness the consequences. After the departure of the brothers, the Army Specialist was ordered to pack his belongings and he was immediately put on a plane back to the states. We didnít have time for any goodbyes. Both of the younger girls were immediately fired and were seen no more. The poor old lady, Mamason, was left to do all of the cleaning, washing, ironing, etc. on her own. One of the girls had nothing to do with what happened but was the victim of the events.
Now back to 1966 and up the stairs came a little guy carrying a shoe shine kit. He wanted to know if he could set up shop to make some money. He did speak some English. He was a cute, likable kid and we invited him back. Ed Roberts mentions him in his article and said he was well taken care of. Now the rest of the story: The little guyís name is Ramazon. He doesnít go to school because his family canít afford it. He shines shoes to supplement the family income. I found this information out by asking questions and our cook Cussum did the interpretation. I spoke to Army Sgt Misdof about it. He and I decided that if his family would agree, we would sponsor his schooling. Ramazon was excited about this proposal and with the support of Cuz got the familyís blessing. We drew up a little charter stating that we, Detachment 33-3 and Detachment 181 would fund and support Ramazonís schooling for as long as our organizations existed or until he completed school, whichever came first. MSgt. Misdorf and I put in enough money to fund him for two years and stated a set amount each person would contribute each month. I think it was a dollar each per month. All of the existing members of the two detachments signed the charter and that was the beginning of Ramazonís ďwell taken care ofĒ story. On his first day of school, his father brought him to the facility in his new school uniform. Ramazon was aglow and all smiles. I had a picture of that special moment but over the past 45 years it has disappeared in all of my transit moves. I can only hope that after our departure that military personal following us would honor our unofficial charter. Based on Edís comment, it did continue for the time he was there. I hope and trust that Ramazon finished school and succeeded in life.
Ramazon shining shoes.
I needed to go up to the base one day when a trip was scheduled. Shorty was driving and we were chatting as we drove along. About twenty miles outside of İskenderun I noticed a white, dead horse on the side of the road. Shorty said it wonít look like that when we come back. I didnít know what he meant. I usually took my camera with me on my trips, but I didnít want a picture of a dead horse so we continued on. We were about half way to the base when I saw a Nomad caravan going across the field about one hundred yards off the road. I told Shorty I sure would like to have my picture taken on a camel. He didnít hesitate and turned the truck toward the caravan and headed to them. He got out and talked to one of the men. Next thing I knew, Shorty motioned to me and I got out and handed him my camera. The Nomad had one of the pack camels get down and I got on and the camel got up and Shorty snapped some pictures. How great was that? Those people just accommodated my request, no questions asked, no payment asked. The whole experience probably lasted fifteen minutes but the memory has lasted a life time.
We went on to İncirlik, I took care of business, Shorty picked up supplies and we headed back to İskenderun. This time when we passed the dead horse, it was pink. It had been totally skinned. Shorty said see, I told you. I donít know what happened to the remains of the horse. But it was apparent that noting would be wasted. Someone ended up with a nice horse hide.
I hesitated to include the following two stories, but considering that Iím using a pseudo name and the fact that the colonel probably isnít with us any longer, I have included them.
Colonel ĎHarvardí decided he was going to throw a party for local Turkish people. I assume business men and people he had met while living in luxury quarters down on the beach. I donít know if he funded the shindig himself or if he had a military slush fund for such occasions. But I do know that he used Army personnel to set everything up, decorate and be the designated door men, waiters, etc. He recruited Ben Caruthers and me to tend bar. We did have a bar in our recreation room but it had never been stocked with any liquors. He did pay Ben and me ten dollars each for the night. I always thought it was hush money because none of the other guys were paid. Apparently it worked as Iíve never mentioned it before. Here is what Colonel ĎHarvardí did. He bought two very expensive bottles of bourbon and a dozen bottles of very cheap bourbon. Our instructions were to serve the expensive stuff first and then without being seen, start refilling the expensive bottles with the cheap liquor. We did it and it worked. We had comments all night about how great the drinks were.
One Sunday evening, one of the Army troops came to my room and asked me to go to the kitchen and talk to a woman that just came through the door. I guess the army guys looked at me as the Ďbig brotherí since I was older than they were. I went out to the kitchen and here stands a young woman with a small back pack. I asked her to sit down and she explained her problem. The story she gave me was that she was a Peace Corps worker who was out for an adventure and got lost, turned around and didnít know where she was. She also said she hadnít eaten in a couple days, had no money and no place to stay. I queried her as to how she found us. She said she just stumbled on the place. It was a bit of a hard story to swallow. We had some leftover cold cuts and I offered her some. I then called the Colonel and gave him the story she gave me. He said to let her into his office, give her a blanket and pillow and she could spend the night there and he would deal with it in the morning. The next morning she showed up back in the kitchen like she knew the schedule. We gave her breakfast then she went back over to the Colonelís office. That was the last we saw of her at the compound. However, for several months thereafter she was spotted coming and going from the Colonelís apartment. He never attempted to explain.
On New Yearís Eve, four of us decided to go to the Moulin Rouge and bring in the New Year. To my surprise, SSgt Bailey decided to go. We all dressed for the occasion. Nothing significant happened that night other than the local police coming in and frisking everyone. They did that every once in a while. Guess I was too naive to know for sure what they were looking for. I do know that on several occasions American merchant marines would show up. They would always head to the table that looked American. Most of them were looking for drugs. We always blew them off. I do recall that sometimes one of those guys would get into trouble with the law and end up in jail. Iím not sure what the exact procedure was, but the local authorities would notify someone in our compound and our guys would end up taking meals to them. I didnít take too kindly to that procedure because we, the troops, bought our own food and that was coming out of our pockets.
A1C Larry Sanders, SSgt James Bailey, A2C Gary Carlson, SP4 Ben Caruthers
I put in a larger picture than usual so the Turkish people in the background could be seen. A professional Turkish photographer was there that night and went around to different tables soliciting business. He took names of those he shot pictures of and once they were developed he brought them back to the bar and they could be picked up from the bar manager. After the New Yearís bang and closing the bar, we headed out and caught an Arabia. Bailey and Carlson got in the carriage and Ben talked the Arabachi into letting us sit up on the bench with him. A couple blocks away Ben talked the Arabachi into letting him drive. Big Ben was a southern boy and probably familiar with handling a horse and carriage. However, he started slinging the whip and got the horse to running. I could see the fear and concern on the Arabachiís face. I felt sorry for him and the poor horse. He about ran that poor thing to death. We did reach the compound without anyone dying though and the Arabachi was relieved to see us go. Iím sure he never turned the reins over to another G.I.
It wasnít long after the first of the year and I had received my orders. When you have been on a remote assignment you almost always get your first or second choice when transferring back to the states. I had put in for Scott AFB for a couple reasons. First, it was close to home and second, it was the Air Force Communications Command. My second choice was Chanute AFB, Illinois and third choice was Whiteman AFB, MO. Both of those choices were made based on location to my home but I really expected to go to Scott. My orders read: Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, 821st Communications Squadron. I was floored and stunned. But it would be for less than a year and I could live with that. I found out it was a SAC base so it had to have some first class communications equipment. Gary Carlson, who is from Belle Fourche, SD, just up the road from Ellsworth got a kick out of it and started telling me South Dakota stories.
Meanwhile, Iím preparing for a trip to the Holy Land. I had secured my passport and was anxiously awaiting that trip as was my buddy Gary Carlson who would travel with me. The next time the chaplain came to İskenderun he informed us that the trip was a go but the State Department nixed our visit to Egypt because of tensions between Israel and Egypt. He also said that Israel agreed to allow us to enter after our trip to Jordan.
We were to meet at Base Operations at İncirlik on departure morning. For me to get there for the very early departure time, I had to go up to the base the day before. I checked into temporary quarters, which was a quonset hut with open bay bedding. Didnít matter, it was just for one night. Not having anything else to do I went over to the Airmanís Club for the evening. I closed the place down and had a few too many beers. I think I was only in the rack about four hours and it was time to get up and get to the tarmac. Starting a trip to the Holy Land and hung over isnít the smartest thing Iíve ever done. Flying on a military transport, which is a rough ride and me not in the best of shape, made the trip seem very long. To top it off, upon approach and what was supposed to be a landing, the pilot hit the end of the runway and we bounced. The right wing almost hit the dirt and he gunned the engines and took to the air again. After circling around, he landed safely on the second attempt. That was an experience I didnít want to have again.
When we arrived at our hotel in Amman, Jordan, I discovered we would have shared rooms. Someone Gary Carlson knew from the base grabbed him, so Gary introduced him to me, A1C James Davis. We hit it off well and had a good time together. I never saw him again after our Holy Land trip.
One thing I will mention here is that when we were leaving Jordan, we were to walk across the border. It was a very unfriendly affair as both Jordanian and Israeli army were there at the check point with loaded rifles. The six day war was less than five months away (June, 1967).
What I did on my Holy Land trip was write a daily account of events. I was doing this for my mother and sent it to her when I got back to İskenderun. What I didnít know and didnít find out about until I got back home is that she took the trip report to the local newspaper and they published it. I donít know what she did with the original writing, but I do have the newspaper article. That will be used here instead of trying to use total recall. The following article is my trip to the Holy Land:
After the trip to the Holy Land there wasnít much left to do but count the days and pack before I returned to the states. I had my short timers ribbon but I kept having second thoughts as to whether I had made the right decision. After all, Ellsworth and South Dakota were not what I was looking for or wanting. But it was a done deal and I had to live with my decision.
As the time grew nearer to my departure, Shorty, our Turkish jack of all trades, built me a large box to ship my things back to the states. It would go by boat and would have to be shipped prior to my departure if I wanted those items available when I arrived at my next base. So I was packing and getting ready to leave. I sold my Sony reel to reel tape player and Garrard turn table to a newly arrived Army sergeant for $500.00. That included all of the tapes and records that I had accumulated over the past fourteen months. I told the sergeant up front that he could probably get the equipment from the base for half that price but he said he wanted all of the things I had already done and it was worth it to him. I gave SSGT. Bailey my guitar. I didnít have room for it and really hadnít mastered it anyway.
Nothing exciting happened after my return from the Holy Land. I worked my usual shifts and hung out with the guys. Packing things for the trip home and getting anxious. But before I departed forever, I wanted to get some photos and a panoramic view of the city. Shorty told me about a hill only a couple miles from our compound where I could get such a view. He said it used to be an old lookout point and there was an old cannon up there. So the weekend before I left, I decided to make the trip. Vic France, Bill Arnot and Ben Caruthers decided to join me on the hike. So we walked to the place Shorty told me about and climbed to the top. It was quite a view and the following pictures were the results of that trip.
The last picture in this series is back at the compound looking back at the hill we were just on. It doesnít look very
large from this angle, but it was a spectacular view.
The next day I finished up by taking some pictures, below,
of the mountains behind us.
A few nights before my departure date, I along with some friends made the rounds to the local hang outs, Pavions, etc. and I said my goodbyeís to all the Turkish people I had made friends with over the past nine months.
On my departure morning from İskenderun, I loaded my bags onto the pickup truck. Shorty drove me back to İncirlik. As we were ready to pull out, big Ben Caruthers came running to the truck. He wanted to say his goodbye and told me to stay in touch and write. I agreed, but as I regret to this day, that didnít happen. I do so wish that I had stayed in touch with all those guys that I was so close to during my time at İskenderun. The only one I have stayed in contact with is Gary Carlson.
Arriving back on the base and going through the clearing base process is a vague memory to me now. I remember going to base supply and returning all of the Ďgoodiesí that I was issued when I arrived. I obviously had temporary lodging and a ticket in my hand. I looked up George Cummings Lockwood V, for what would be the last time. We went to the Airmanís Club that evening and had our final couple of beers. George and I went to Tech School together at Sheppard AFB, traveled to Camp Perry, Ohio for a brief TDY and on to Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C. before traveling to Turkey together. Our relationship over those years was up and down. I never saw George after that, but did call him once back in the 1970ís. His attitude hadnít seemed to change any.
And then it was on to Adana to catch my flight. March of 1967 and heading home. I made my way to Istanbul that day and checked in for my flight to New York. Several hours passed and then the announcement that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. Pan Am put us up in a hotel room for the night and rebooked us for a flight out the next day. My parents could only wonder why they hadnít heard from me. My world wasnít like the world of today where cell phones and internet are available everywhere. I didnít feel like I could afford a phone call home and I just couldnít bring myself to call collect. My folks worked hard for their money and I never burdened them with additional expenses. So the call would wait until I was stateside.
The above pictures are the view from my hotel room in Istanbul.
Back to the airport the next day and Iím going to be headed home. I was anxious to get back and to start the next unknown adventure in my life.
My ride home. A PAN AM 707
Flight number PA01
After boarding my flight, I realized I had two little kids sitting next to me. Their parents and two more kids were sitting behind me. An Air Force sargent and his family were returning home from their tour in Turkey. So I ended up with babysitting detail from Istanbul to New York. Stops were made in Frankfort, Germany and London, England before we headed across the Atlantic to New York City. At the baggage claim area in New York, the sargent came over and thanked me for my assistance with his kids on the flight. Fortunately, they were good kids and it was a good trip home.
After I cleared customs, I called Robert Bell, who was my instructor on the Switchboard at İncirlik. Bob lived in New York and told me to call when I arrived. He said he would be over in about thirty minutes to pick me up. I then called my folks and let them know I was back in the states and hopefully would arrive home sometime the next day. Bob picked me up and took me to his place. He lived with his mother and about five Pug dogs that they raised. I spent the night with them and Bob took me back to the airport the next day. That was the last time I saw him. We stayed in contact for a couple years and with my constant moves, we lost contact. That was the final chapter for the Turkish road. Everything now is looking forward to the rest of my life.
The following are pictures of people I was stationed with in Turkey that arenít pictured in the story. A few people that I didnít have pictures of are Army MSGT Seal, Army MSGT Misdorff, Sgt. Moore, Army Major Wright or the two Army colonels.
This was my family for my 9 months in İskenderun:
A2C Luke Diggs
SSGT Jerry Detour (Antakya)
Checking Roman coins from dealer.)
SP4 Ben Caruthers
SP4 Bill Arnaut
SP4 Bill Riordan
|Sgt. Danny Kenney
||SP4 Reece Hunter and Cus
A1C Gary Ruckman (left) and three Turkish kids at Black Castle.)
A2C Richard Cooter
SP4 Terry Shank
Me and our dog, Rocky
SP4 Vic France
Riordan, Kenney & Gradey Heflin
Riordan, Kenney & Red
giving Rocky a bath.
Turkish Friends & Employees
Jimmy, Diggs and Red
Aument and Ali
Cus playing ping pong
Ilker (Messenger runner)
Pictures Taken Around İskenderun
Since this story was about the Road to Turkey and it is now over, the rest of the story (if and when) will be written for my grandkids. I went on to Ellsworth AFB, SD and finished my military commitment. I was discharged in February, 1968. (see below)
I headed back to Washington, D.C. There, I reconnected with my original mentor and trainer, Benjamin L. Meredith, who was discharged one day prior to me. He had landed a job with the F.A.A. and talked me into joining him. This was not in my plan as I was going to work for N.S.A. They were slow with my paper work and I went ahead and took the FAA job. On January 3, 1999, I retired from the FAA with duty assignments at FAA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Missouri, two tours in New Jersey and one in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I donít know how many times in my life Iíve heard someone say to me, ďyouíre luckyĒ and ďI want to do what you doĒ. My responses were always the same: you make your own luck and get yourself thirty yearsí experience and maybe you can do what I do. Analyzing the lucky comment, in reality, is making an opportunity out of a situation. Thatís how I look at my Air Force enlistment. I was placed in a situation of either being drafted or joining a service. The Air Force became an opportunity. I was meandering around my home town with no direction. Without the service, I would have ended up bagging groceries, working the assembly line or working in the coal mines. The Air Force gave me a trade which I used as a foundation to build what was a very successful career. Iíve always been grateful for my Air Force service. The experience was one that turned a boy into a man. I was a man with a mission and goals that would have never been dreamed of or attained without the Air Force. My time in Turkey was an experience of a lifetime. It is something I have always cherished and have remembered throughout the years. The G.I. bill gave me the opportunity to purchase my first house at age twenty-seven and to further my education by going to college. These things wouldnít have been possible without the Air Force.
I received the following letter in February 1970:
The END. And a new beginning.
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