A/1C -- 1954-1957 -- Career/AFSC: 73251
Jan-Mar 1954, 3704 BMTS, Lackland AFB, TX
Apr-Aug 1954, 3316th Stu Sq, Scott AFB, IL
Aug-Sep 1954, 2266th PerP Sq (P/L), Camp Kilmer, NJ;
Sep 1954-Feb 1955, 1603rd AB Gp, APO 231 (Wheelus) Tripoli,Libya
Mar 1955-Jun 1955, 7255th ABRON, APO 231 (Wheelus)
Jun 1955-Oct 1955, JAMMAT TUSLOG Det. 9, APO 294 Diyarbakir, Turkey
Nov 1955-Nov 1955, HQ JAMMAT TUSLOG, APO206-A; Ankara, Turkey
Nov 55-Oct 57, 310th BombWg, Smokey Hill AFB, KS (renamed Schilling)
This is the story of how I became acquainted with the country known as Turkey in the second year of my short career in the service of the United States Air Force. I feel the need to preface my story with the following. I wouldn't attempt at defining anything I did, by joining, as the slightest bit heroic in any way as I only joined the Air Force to keep from being drafted in the Army or Marines. I tried the Navy first but they had too long a waiting list. My career spanned less than four years due to the fact of my disillusionment with the way the Air Force operated. Many may disagree with my way of thinking, and that is their prerogative, but I have always felt that we are all human beings and should be treated as such, contrary to the Air Force way of thinking, that we are just a warm body with a certain AFSC. I may have made it a lifetime career but every guidance counselor I ever asked anything of was seemingly just short of being a complete idiot.
Understand that I will be the first to acknowledge that my life has never had any forethought or self motivated direction. It is best exemplified by visioning a boat with out a sail. Certainly nothing to brag about. I ended up in Personnel because some "Counselor" said I was color blind and wouldn't be accepted in flight school. The fact is that they asked me to try out and that I have never been color blind in my life. Previously I had been scheduled for language school but I listened to other advice and was told that if I flunked at Kelly with introductory Russian I would have to stay at Lackland as a DI. At this thought I froze with fear and searched else where. By now if was my last day in Texas and I had to make up my mind. I asked another "Counselor" what was open at this late date and she said Personnel School at Scott AFB so I took it.
I left Scott AFB with orders reading a destination of APO 23 which was Thule, Greenland. While processing at Cp. Kilmer in the NEAC bldg. the phone rang and I was sent to USAFE with corrected orders reading APO 231, Wheelus Field, Libya. Another slight faux pas by the AF. I enjoyed Africa as much as can be expected but once again disillusionment set in as cushy assignments came in for my AFSC at per diem sites like Rome and Athens but was told I was doing too good a job to be released. My Sgt. explained that only "mess ups" would be transferred so I told him he was in charge of a new one. After a short time of "messing up" I found out my services were no longer required and was dispersed to the far end of the base tearing down tents with the Arabs.
One day while reclining under a palm with my new found friends someone came driving up in a jeep and said I had a chance for a transfer if I wanted it. Rushing back across the base I found out they needed a payroll clerk for a new out fit they were organizing with volunteers from Wheelus and also from the States, called the 7255th ABRON. I agreed and found myself headed for a secret site some where in Turkey. We stayed at Wheelus till everyone arrived that was going. We also had to wait till a construction crew, which came from the US, finished the place. In fact we did occupy it before they were totally done. It was constructed from metal Quonset type buildings that were fabricated in France. We had it pretty easy during our transition period while still at Wheelus but found the living quarters en route to be lacking somewhat.
We left by C119 and had a good time in Athens for a short layover. Then on to Turkey stopping at Adana at a Turkish base for quite some time. We were billeted in large tents with nothing but dirt and grass floors and metal cots to sleep on. I can't recall how long we were there exactly but it seemed like an eternity.
I especially enjoyed the early mornings when the Hodja would get up in the Mosque's minaret and start calling everyone to prayer and then the village dogs would start barking and it was already a hundred degrees and the sun wasn't even up. We then proceeded to the Turkish air base at Diyarbakir where we at least had wooden planks on the ground for flooring. The real drawback there was the amount of men that we had in our outfit and we only had two "outhouse" latrines. Exacerbating the problem, our diet consisted of canned ham chunks and canned beef chunks swimming in grease gravy. You can imagine how long the lines were with most everyone having the "runs" at the same time. This all came to an abrupt halt once the Technical Reps' came over to man the site. These people were from GE and had quite a bit of clout with Washington. One twix from them and the C119's started coming in with crates of frozen t-bone steaks for all of us. We certainly ate good after that.
I must explain that at this time the people in this part of Turkey were not used to us and resented us considerably and would go so far as to throw stones at our jeep when we made ice runs to town. As I understood it, the communications men were the first in the country to install phone lines and such. When the day finally came to occupy the site that was almost completed, we loaded on a 6-by and proceeded the 25 or 30 miles to our destination. Saw nothing but rocks and dirt and herds of goats on the way there. I never saw green grass and trees again till I made my first trip to Ankara.
Upon arriving we saw this huge area with a very tall wire fence enclosing it, topped with barbed wire and a gate. We were told at our first indoctrination that if you happened to wander outside the compound that the outside perimeter was guarded by Turks who couldn't communicate in English. They were issued a whistle and a weapon that they would use on you if you didn't freeze when you heard someone blow the whistle. We took the advice quite seriously. Being that far from any civilization we had no reason for sneaking out at night. Oh yes, I also was told that the whole place was undermined with explosives and was to be detonated before it fell into an enemies control. That made for uneasy sleeping at night. I also have pictures where someone did try to burn us out.
Once I found out that I could find any excuse to type up some orders and fly to Ankara to straighten out a pay problem, I was out of there as much as possible. It was really nice to be in civilization once in awhile and see green grass and trees. The hotels and restaurants were great. I also envied the personnel that were stationed in Ankara. At that time they lived on per diem and had their own apartments and all the amenities that went with it.
At that time I found myself flying on any aircraft as long as it had wings and a motor. I remember hitching a ride once on a C47 that the USAF had transferred to the Turks. They were completely stripped of all necessities. They had bored holes in the windows to let out the heat when parked on the ground. The plugs that were to fill the holes when in flight were long gone. The guys I flew with were non-coms so they said. We hopped all the way to Ankara landing in vacant fields etc. They let me ride up front with them and showed me the altimeter that read 19,500 ft. There wasn't enough oxygen to light a match with. I didn't have enough sense to worry about anything back then.
While waiting to hitch a ride I used to set in the control tower and chew the fat. That was my first experience in seeing a U2 surveillance aircraft. The guy in the tower started a conversation with a plane that was coming in to refuel. It took quite awhile till it landed. He told me before I got to see it what it was and how it had two gas engines and one jet in the middle which they ran for the higher altitudes. Now I'm amazed at how such items as our little site in Turkey and the U2s are so outmoded with todays satellite technology for spying.
Of course we took many trips in to Diyarbakir as it was very picturesque. I remember having a pair of tan suede shoes made there that squeaked every time I wore them. I was told that it was the only walled city that had survived being conquered by the Romans. The walls were so thick that people actually were able to live in them. Many years later when I became acquainted with and started reading the Bible I suddenly realized the importance of this area in scripture.
Col. Francis M. Baker drove his new Buick by himself from Tripoli, Libya all the way to Diyarbakir, Turkey. That presented quite a problem for me to figure out his per diem and collect his travel expenses for him as he even had to take a ferry boat at one time in Egypt. By the way, that took a couple of those trips to Ankara to check out pay regs, HA! They had a big black market on the rate of exchange from American dollars to Turkish Lira. We had a Lieutenant that also took his new car over there and sold it before he left. I heard he made about 9,000 dollars or so extra as a car only went for about 3500 dollars in the states at the time.
Another thing that mystified me was the fact that where we were at and what we were doing was so "secret" that we weren't aloud to write home about it. One day I received a letter from my Mother with an article enclosed from Time Magazine with a map of Diyarbakir and a description of what we were doing there. So much for covert operations.
I also recall one day being instructed by someone in the higher echelon as to the fact that I was serving in a hardship zone and would undoubtedly be honored with my first request for reassignment upon my return to the ZI. Another misconception. As my time grew shorter the guys that received the communications would type up a fake twix showing my new assignment almost daily with some off the wall place. They thought it was quite humorous but alas they cried Wolf once to often and finally when I was handed one that read Smokey Hill AFB, Kansas I said Ha! Ha! and immediately tore it up. Needless to say I didn't believe this was a real place. They freaked out and spent the rest of the day convincing me it was official. I thought my introduction to SAC was just another joke.
Turkey during the mid-1950s
Special Orders 154 showing
me originally being assigned to APO 23 Thule Greenland which should have been for APO 231 Wheelus Field in Libya.
Special Orders 38 assigned me to the 7255th ABRON from the 1603rd ABGp for future deployment to Diyarbakir, Turkey.
Special Orders 21 moved us from Wheelus to Det. 9 Jammat Tuslog APO 289 Diyarbakir Turkey.
Mays-Byington-Trill (me) at an airfield in Athens Greece during a short layover on our way to Turkey. Byington was an Air Policeman. I forget what Mays did but they were two swell guys.
İncirlik Air Base at Adana Turkey back in 1955. Notice the posh living quarters:
(At least we didn't need a broom although we could have used a lawn mower!)
Living quarters at the Turkish Air Field outside Diyarbakir. If you'll notice we were at least up off of the ground on wood planking.
This shows my importance to the outfit. My own bodyguard :) Check that bayonet!
First Sgt. Ray Vogel at his desk when we first arrived before relocating out to the permanent site.
The back of our mess hall with our head cook John Scott. I took him to Ankara with me one time to get his pay straightened out. That was his first experience with a bidet. I still chuckle about it when I think of it :)
Me after a case of the "runs" from all that pork and grease gravy we had to eat for so long. I had just come from the "outhouse".
The air approach to the Turkish field at Diyarbakir.
T-33's which were transferred to the Turkish Air Force.
Some of the locals at the air field. Check the GI at the right. Yep, that's Joe Goings.
One day Joe took Scotty and me to catch a TAF C-47 flight going to Ankara. They began moving on the taxiway as we jumped in. They actually took off on the taxi strip just barely clearing Joe's head as he was heading back in the jeep. You can just see the wing tip of the plane and the Turkish insignia Check the landscape below.
A herd of goats and a grader along side of the road when we were riding in a six by to the completed site. The land in eastern Turkey is quite barren. The picture isn't very clear because of the bumpy road.
The perimeter fence and the fire beyond it when some one had the idea to try and burn us out of there.
The buildings at the site were similar to this one. That Buick is the very one driven to Turkey by Col. Baker from Wheelus Field in Libya by way of Egypt, Palestine/Israel, Lebanon, and Syria.
I longed for bright lights and city ways so I would make as many trips to Ankara as possible. Here's a sample copy of the orders I would compose. Lt. Smick and I picked up the payroll with this one :) I was working on going to Paris to get that payroll but got shipped out before I could get it done, hmm, if you believe that one, I've got this nice bridge in New York...
The bill from the Ankara hotel we stayed in.
I used to stay at the Celik Palas 'til I made friends with some Ankara permanent party guys who invited me to stay with them in their apartment in this block. From then on I just stayed here when I was in Ankara.
My first trip to Ankara! I never saw so many flags in my life. This shows the old Iraqi flag amongst the Turkish. I was told they had some foreign big shots in that week.. Every few minutes you would hear sirens and a cavalcade of limos with the police escort flowed by.
American Embassy at Ankara in 1955.
JAMMAT/TUSLOG Hq in Ankara.
I hopped out of a cab at the NCO club in Ankara and instantly fell in love with this purple and white 1955 Ford Crown Victoria. I wanted one so bad that I ordered one from my local Ford dealer in Ankara.
But by the time I rotated stateside, it would be a 1956 model and the purple/white combo wasn't available so I chose a red and white one that I picked up in Detroit! This picture was taken at my next base in Salina, Kansas.
One day the AF sent us a British entertainment group to boost our morale factor. We backed up a truck with a long flat bed and used it for a stage for their performance. The band, the male
singer, the female singer, the two
female dancers. Just as I got a good thing going with the female singer and got her to pose for me beside the building, Col. Baker caught us and put a stop to it. :(
It goes without saying that at my age I have grown very nostalgic and
reminiscent and have actually wished I could make a return trip to relive some
memories of Diyarbakir. I also spend an enormous amount of time trying to
locate old USAF friends and acquaintances by means of the Internet. I think
there should be a law that everyone of my age should have a PC so that they
can be found. Just joking but it would be nice....Bud