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David Todd

Karamursel

TUSLOG Det 94 (Was Det 3 until about 1964-65)

Baker Flight - 292X1

Jun 1967 - Nov 1968

© 2014 by Author

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[Ed:  David contacted us on 26 Jul 2014; he submitted his "Story" on 27 Jul 2014.]

I have been reading stories about Karamursel and wonder if I was at the same base.  I believe my experiences there will be a lot different than what others have said about the base; so, I thought I would do a "Paul Harvey" and give the other side of the story based on my experiences.  You have to remember that this was during the height of the Viet Nam War and there was still a draft.  For the most part, the Air Force was a way to avoid being drafted and being sent to Viet Nam.  It was not a career option for most who joined, including myself.  Our flight consisted of guys in their teens to their mid-twenties who had less than 4 years service.  I don't know about other Commands, but in the USAF Security Service at the time, there was a definite animosity between those under 4 years service and career airmen.

TRIP TO KARAMURSEL:
There were three of us who were suppose to leave JFK Airport on Pan Am Flight 1 for Istanbul, and then the long bus ride to Karamursel.  We graduated together from Morse Intercept Technical School at Keesler AFB, Missippi.  As fate would have it, only 2 of us made the flight.  Our third classmate decided to fly standby to New York and missed the flight to Turkey.  Amazingly, nothing happened to him for missing the flight.  He just showed up late and was assigned to Charlie Flight, and would relieve Baker Flight (my Flight) for the next 18 months.  I say "relieve" because as an X1 (Morse Operator) you could not leave your position until relieved by the oncoming Flight.

KARAMURSEL VOCABULARY:
When I began working on Baker Flight, there were a few terms I needed to know that never came up in Tech school:
Yeni (Turkish for new guy)
Jeep (New guy learning a position)
Squirrel (203 linguist--they thought they were smart)
Squirrel Cage (Where linguists worked)
Barfers (Turkish cigarettes -- they smelled bad)
Box Bennies (Cold box lunches served to X1's at their positions on Days)
Elephant Cage (Antenna array)
Squid (Navy morse operator)
Ground pounder (Army morse operator)
Day Lady (Any one who worked 9 to 5 only)

WORKING AT OPS:
Our job required that we work 24/7, 365 days a year.  There were 4 Flights that rotated between Swings, Mids, and Days.  First rotation I worked was 3-1, 3-1, 3-1, 3-3.  Then it was decided to go to 4-1, 4-1, 4-1, 4-4.  There was 24 hours between shifts and a long break after the last Day watch.  I never got accustomed to any rotation and had to stay up 24 hours between Mids and Days.

Working days was probably the worst for me.  We were required to wear Class A uniforms during the Day shift and my position was between two Turkish nationals who smoked Turkish cigarettes.  There was no such thing as a second-hand smoke problem in those days.

As previously mentioned, we had box lunches on Days because we could not leave our position to go to chow.

THE GREAT BARRACKS MIGRATION:
One day it was decided to move all four Flights from their newer, modern, 3-story barracks to the older 2-story barracks about 200 yards away.  Of course this was done after working a Mid shift until 8 in the morning.  Who got the newer barracks?  The day workers of course.

DISNEY COMES TO COMMANDER'S CALL: Once a month we had Commander's Call in the Base Theatre.  It was after a Mid watch of course.  It just so happens that our Squadron Commander was a Captain who was passed over for Major.  He was being RIFed (Reduction In Force) and at his last Commander's Call he decided to wear Mickey Mouse Ears.  At least he got our attention for a change.

MEDICAL "BENEFITS":
I had the opportunity to play on the Baker Flight football team and the 1967 Base football team.  In 1968 I separated my shoulder during a game.  The only medical facility we had was a dispensary.  Wives had to go to Ankara to have babies delivered.  I was taken to the dispensary and examined by a doctor, who proceeded to chew me out for playing football.  They could not treat me there and I was sent to Wiesbaden, Germany.  My shoulder was taped and I was given a few Darvon pain pills.  I was flown from Karamüsel in a C-124, wearing my Class A uniform, of course.  At the hospital in Germany, I checked myself in, taking my own pulse and temperature.  I was put in a ward with other airmen and soldiers.  I saw a doctor once in the 12 days I was there.  He decided to let my arm heal in a sling.  If you weren't going to surgery or coming out of surgery, you were given a detail in the hospital.  Mine was to clean grease pencil marks off of glass lenses with my one good arm.  I was allowed to go out of the hospital and see a little of Germany, but before I could leave the hospital I had to pass inspection by a nurse, whose rank was Major.  Had to make your bed with a "dust cover".

BASE CHOW HALL:
My first 3 months at Karamüsel I never saw fresh milk.  Nothing but limeade.  Only thing close to milk were large cans of condensed milk.  It was not fit to drink.  Cold cuts were served every Sunday.

BASE SPORTS:
Probably the only bright spot in the whole 18 months.  Sports could be played at all levels:  Work Section, Flight, and Base.  Our Baker Flight basketball team had some of the best players I had ever seen.  For a base as small as ours, we had some really great athletes.

YOU WANT ISLANDS?:
As much as I disliked Kasramürsel, I was willing to give Overseas another chance.  So I put the P. I. (Philippine Islands) on my "dream sheet" as my next assignment.  Most of my friends wanted to go back to the states after Karamüsel.  I figured since I was doing what the Air Force wanted (consecutive overseas tours) no problem.  Wrong.  They gave me an island all right -- Shemya, Alaska!  I thought there could be no place worse than Karamüsel.  Wrong again!  I took the hint and left the Air Force after 4 years.  No regrets.

KARAMÜSEL, TUSLOG Det 94 Patch.

KARAMURSEL, Tuslog Det 94-2 Patch.