Richard Dale Wilson
© 2003-2011 by Author
This was my "Red Book photo" taken the day I arrived in Istanbul.
I arrived in Istanbul in February 1959. I was 20 year old Seaman, single, and had only been in the Navy for about 8 months. I had just completed my training at the Naval Communications Training Center located in Imperial Beach California. I was immediately immersed into the Turkish community and culture since there was no living facilities on the base and everyone lived on the local economy. Apartment hunting was a challenge but I found the Turkish people to be extremely friendly and helpful.
Istanbul Turkey is the only city in the world that is located on two continents. The western part of the city is on the European side of the Bosphorus and the eastern part of the city is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Istanbul was, and still is, a bustling, fascinating and intriguing city with a history going back thousands of years. The city was, and still is, very much European and the Turkish people were very friendly and accommodating. The population of Istanbul in 1959/60 was approximately 1.5 million. Today (2004) it is estimated to be around 13 million.
TUSLOG Det-12 Istanbul was a US Naval activity and was first established in 1952 and was in continuous operation until 1965 when it was permanently closed. The installation was located on a Turkish Naval base on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. The Det-12 installation consisted of two quonset huts located on the waterfront and the operations site which was located on top of a 600 foot hill overlooking the northern entrance of the Bosphorus into the Black Sea. The operations site on the hill consisted of a small operations building (4 or 5 rooms), an administrative building (one room) and a generator building. There was also an ancient castle located on the hill about 150 yards from the operations building.
One of the quonset huts on the lower part of the Turkish base was used as a private mess and officers quarters and the other hut was used as a barracks for the enlisted watch-standers. All personnel were required to belong to the private mess. Meals were charged according to the daily subsistence allowance and charges were collected monthly. Two Turkish cooks were employed by the mess to prepare the food. Meals were, at times, both interesting and unique.
There was no permanent billeting at the site for either officer or enlisted so all personnel lived in civilian housing on the local economy that included private homes or apartments in Istanbul. If my memory serves me correctly the usual compliment of personnel was around 50 or 60 at any given time.
The Kahan building, located near Taksim Square, was the TUSLOG headquarters in Istanbul. The building also housed the PX and small Commissary, a snack bar, the EM club, the transient billeting and various other administrative offices for personnel assigned to the different TUSLOG commands located in the city and surrounding areas.
There were no bridges across the Bosphorus in 1959/60. Transportation to and from the base was to either take a bus, taxi or shared taxi (Dolmus) from Istanbul to the town of Sariyer, located on the European side of the Bosphorus, and then take a ferry boat across to the Asian side to the village of Anadolu Kavagi where the Turkish Naval base was located. The ferry boat had to negotiate the World War II submarine nets to reach the Asian side. The submarine nets have since been removed. Living and working in Istanbul was one of the best tours of my Naval career.
I met my wife Aydan while stationed in Istanbul and we were married there in October 1960. We have two children, Michael age 42 and Matthew, age 36. We travel to Istanbul often to visit with Aydan’s family. Our most recent visit to Istanbul was in September and October of 2003 and we were there to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. Even with the increase in population and all the changes that have taken place in the city, it is still a beautiful, wonderful place to visit.