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Electronic Technician School, Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi
to Living in Downtown Trabzon on $9.00 per diem...

Lew Culkin

© 2008-2011 by Author

This is a story by A2/C Lewis B. Culkin Jr. about his one year remote, isolated, unaccompanied tour in Trabzon “Trab”, Turkey, with the U.S. Air Force Security Service. It begins with Lew graduating from Electronic Tech School at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi in the spring of 1958:

 

3411th STUDENT SQUADRON (ATC)
United States Air Force
Kessler Air Force Base, Mississippi

 
 

SPECIAL ORDERS)
NUMBER 107)

20 March 1958

 
 

1. FNA (A/3C), asgd 3411th Stu Sq, P/L, 3380th TECHTRAGRU, this sta, are prom to gr of A/2C (PERM), eff 20 Mar 58, W/DR 20 Mar, AUTH: AFR 39-29 and MESSAGE TTPMP-E 343 B, Hq Technical Training Air Force, Gulfport, Miss., 25 Feb 58.

 
 

NAME
CULKIN, LEWIS B. JR.

AFSN
AF 19582403


GORDON H. STORM
Captain, USAF
Commander

COURSE
30330


 


As shown in the orders above, Lew graduated from ECM School in May 1958 at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and was promoted from Airman 3rd Class (A/3C E-2 pay grade) to Airman 2nd Class (A/2C E-3 pay grade). His orders were to report, after a 30 leave, to TUSLOG Detachment 3-2 Turkey. It was a remote unaccompanied tour in Turkey, for one year. [My orders were incorrect for DET 2 as there was no TUSLOG Det 2. At Karamusel (Mainsite) they asked for volunteers and I volunteered for Trabzon. See story as to why]

NOTE: 6932nd Radio Squadron Mobile became
6932nd Security Squadron and then
became 6932nd Security Group (1964/65).
Samsun was open from 1956 until its
closure in the early 1970s



 

HEADQUARTERS
3380th TECHNICAL TRAINING WING (ATC)
Keesler Air Force Base
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISSISSIPPI

 
 

SPECIAL ORDER)
NUMBER B-337)

28 March 1958

 
 

1. ASSIGNMENT: Following named airmen (Control AFSC 30330) are relieved from assigned pipeline student, 3411th Student Sq, ATC this station & assigned Det 2, 6933rd Radio Gp Mobile (USO) APO 325, NY on Project APR-USO-TURKEY-0513.

REPORTING DATA: DALVP. Report to Comdr 1611th Air Terminal Sq, McGuire AFB, NJ not earlier than 0800 hours and not later than 1200 hours Daylight Savings Time 13 May 58 on flight 429, departing McGuire AFB, NJ 1400 hours Day Light Saving Time 13 May 58. EDCSA: 13 May 58.

Depart home base 4 Apr 58. Airman will not be assigned to any other organization without prior approval of the Comdr USAFSS. Leave address is indicated.
A/3C LEWIS B. CULKIN JR., AF19582403
(Leave address: 2824 Sunset Circle, Sioux City, Iowa)

 

At Los Angeles Airport, heading toward Turkey
In WLA- Lew Culkin in the front yard of the duplex in West Los Angeles, California on leave before his departing for Turkey, May 1958.

 
 

In West Los Angeles
Lew Culkin at Los Angeles International Airport before leaving for a flight to New York City on his way to Turkey, May 1958.

Lew and his wife drove to Sioux City, Iowa and visited with his parents for a few days and headed west for California. Lew had a thirty day leave and spent it at his mother-in-laws in West Los Angeles, California. Lew’s wife was going to stay with her mother while Lew was in Turkey.

On May 12th 1958 Lew left on a TWA flight from Los Angeles to New York City’s Idlewild International Airport (later John F. Kennedy). Lew took a bus to McGuire AFB, New Jersey to catch his flight to Turkey. I was a day early because I didn’t want to be late (my Wentworth Military Academy training). I went to the terminal to check in for my flight and the Master Sergeant on the desk said "You are a day early and what are you doing here?" I said "What do you mean what am I doing here?" He said "Your flight #429 leaves from Charlestown Air Force Base, South Carolina, only #2XX series flights leave from McGuire AFB." I said “Well my orders read to report to McGuire AFB, NJ and how am I to know only 2XX numbered flights leave from McGuire!” He said "Oh no, they’ve done it again”. I told him I was not the only one that eight others were coming in behind me with the same orders. He said “Well, we’ll ship them to Germany and let them worry about them". He told me to go to the Transient Billets and come back tomorrow as he had to work on this one.

See? My luck again! (a phrase I used frequently).

On arrival at Lackland AFB, Texas, we went immediately to the Chow Hall for some of the worst food I have ever eaten.

We had a “Gung Ho” Drill Instructor in the 3711th Basic Military Training at Lackland and we never saw San Antonio as Barajas (the DI) drilled us and volunteered us for KP or other duties every weekend.

We did win all of the competition in Basic, but while other Basic Trainees were getting weekend passes and going into San Antonio we were pulling KP. The Flight’s other Basics and I pulled KP at every chow hall at Lackland. Other Squadrons' chow halls, the Air Cadet chow hall, the WAF chow hall and many others. When the “Red Flag” went up, that meant it was 95 degrees outside and all outdoor activity was supposed to cease. Well, all it meant to us was: it was 95 degrees!

One day during Red Flag, Barajas was not happy with our time for falling out of the barracks. He wanted the Flight to fall out, then form up with no movement within 30 seconds. He sat in his second floor room in the old World War II barracks looking out the window at the street where we would form up and he would yell “Fall Out”. We did this many times, for 30 minutes, and we - and our fatigues - were soaking wet with sweat when he finally stopped as we actually met the 30 second time limit twice in a row!

While on the train to Lackland from Los Angeles, in El Paso two guys went across the border to Juarez, Mexico even though we were told not to do that. As they returned the train was just pulling out of the station and they ran to catch it but missed it. They turned themselves in at Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas and were put on the next train to San Antonio. They got assigned to an Air National Guard outfit for basic training and had it made with weekend passes every weekend etc. Also, this was about the time the Air Force was consolidating all basic training to Lackland. They had one Base in the east and one in the San Francisco Bay area for basic training. Had I been just a week earlier, I could have gone through basic at Parks AFB, Pleasanton, CA in the San Francisco Bay area. Also, they flew the previous week's enlistees to basic training, but we got the Southern Pacific Argonaut to San Antonio! Gosh Basic was fun.

See? My luck again.

After Basic, we went on to Keesler, where the Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) guys had to wait five to six weeks to start school in the Detail Barracks pulling every "s--t" detail on the base. “Ditty Catchers” (Radio Operators) and others were only in the Detail Barracks one week before starting school. Because we were there so long, we ECM guys really knew the ins and outs of the game. For example, we learned that if you had a piece of paper in your hand no one would bother you. They would think you were on an assignment. When they yelled “Fall Out for Detail” at 0800, we would hang back as all of the new guys raced for the front door. We would slide out the side door and crawl under the barracks which were elevated on small stilts. We had cardboard to lie on and magazines to read. About noon we would look out for anyone who might see us and we'd walk with a piece of paper over to the chow hall row for lunch and then back under the barracks. About 1400 we would come out with our piece of paper and wander around the base until about 1600, then go to the Airman’s Club and drink beer, returning to chow about 1800 for dinner.

See? My luck again!

The 3411th ECM Squadron at Keesler was the largest Squadron on base with more than 600 guys. Since we were the largest Squadron on the base, we were assigned base work details based on total squadron strength. The only problem was, of the 600+, 500 were officers and 100 were enlisted. ECM was being changed out to be entirely officers. Back when we started school in the fall of 1957, the 3411th was 600 enlisted and no student officers, but by the time we were the next to the last enlisted class, the enlisted headcount dropped and the officer head count went up. So by the spring of 1958 we were working every "s--t" detail on base. I lived off base and would get to work at 0800 and was assigned my morning detail. We didn’t have time to go home for lunch as classes started and ran all afternoon, so we ate at the chow hall. Our class was in a “classified” building, so we had to do all of the janitorial work as the "Officers" were not going to scrub and buff the floors in our building. We didn’t have time to go home for supper so we ate, again, at the chow hall. We worked most of the evening cleaning our school building. So we were at the base from 0800 until midnight only to go home, get 5 hours sleep, and be back on the base next morning at 0800! We complained about all the work hours and no time to study but nobody heard us. Finally, the last enlisted class in school behind us (the entire class) flunked one phase of training. This caused an investigation and they discovered the problem, and suddenly the 19 hour days came to a stop and the work was assigned based on enlisted squadron head count. The other squadrons on base who had an easy time until then really complained about all the detail work they had to pull! They never realized how easy they had it... and how hard we had it. By the time this was discovered and the changes implemented, we were graduating and shipping out and only got to enjoy our time off for a couple of weeks.

See? My luck again.

Once back to McGuire AFB, New Jersey, I went to the Transient Billets, got a bunk, and headed for the chow hall. Well the chow here was worse than the chow on arrival at Lackland. It could get worse.

See? My luck again.

I went back to the McGuire terminal the next morning and they had me scheduled on a flight to Rhine Main Air Force Base in Frankfurt, Germany, leaving later that day. The other eight guys came in that day and had already left for Frankfurt. I was called to the desk late in the day and told I was bumped off my flight. Back to the Billets.

See, my luck again.

This process went on for 6 days every day getting bumped.

See? My luck again.

Every day I had gone back to the terminal, there had always been someone other than the Master Sergeant on the desk. On the 6th day he was on the desk. He looked at me and said "What? Are you still here?" "Yeah," I answered, "I’ve been bumped six times". He said, "You got all your stuff here?" I answered, "Yeah". He said, "Follow Me!"

We went out the doors to the flight line and a C-118 (Douglas DC 7C) was sitting there all closed up with the two starboard engines running. He motioned for the ramp attendants to push the stairs back to the plane. I gave my baggage to a ground attendant who opened up a lower hatch and threw my bags in and closed it. We went up the steps and the M/SGT pounded on the door which opened and he pointed to an Airman First Class sitting the front seat and said "You come with me." And to me he said "Have a nice trip", which I did. I’ll bet everyone on that plane wondered who I was to get that kind of treatment. Sometimes my luck wasn’t all that bad, but shortly thereafter I learned that the Worlds Fair was open in Brussels, Belgium and all the Congressmen and Senators and their staffs from Washington had been hitchhiking free to Europe. So I kept getting bumped!

See? We took off and flew to Ernst Harmon AFB in Stephenville, Newfoundland to refuel before flying across the Atlantic. We arrived at Rhine Main air base in Frankfurt, Germany the next morning after an all night flight across the pond. I stayed in the Transit Billets, an old SS barracks from World War II. They were beautiful. They were 2 or 3 stories high built like spokes of a wheel. The center of the wheel was the orderly room and the troops' rooms were in spokes running off the center hub. You would turn off the hall in one of the spokes and go thru a door into a small hall, straight ahead was the latrine with toilets, sinks and showers. Turn right and there was sleeping quarters and turn left there was sleeping quarters. As I recall each sleeping bay handled 6 people for a total of 12 people.

I went to the chow hall which was in one of the spokes as I recall, and that was great food. The troops pitched in a contribution each month toward paying all of the cooks, servers, KP people, room and building janitorial cleaning and shoe shining - all done by local Germans. What great duty and jobs and income for the locals.

I actually caught up with my classmates. I arrived in the morning and they were leaving the next day for Istanbul, Turkey on commercial air (Pan American-First Class) as there was no scheduled Military Air Transport Service to Istanbul. I tried to go out with them but could not. I was at Rhine Main AFB for an extra three or four days. It wasn’t bad in the old SS barracks and the German cooking in the chow hall was great. Every meal there would include three types of meat, three types of potatoes, three types of salad and three types of desserts. This was great after McGuire. Better luck here. If I had to wait somewhere this was the place.

I flew out First Class on a Pan American World Airways DC7C from the civilian side of the base which was Frankfurt’s main airport across the field. I went to Istanbul, Turkey. The flight had originated in New York City and went around the world to Japan, stopping in various cities, and then turned around and headed back to NYC.

I have to admit: I got a little snockered on the flight, what with all the free booze. Good luck here.

Yesilkoy Airport - now Ataturk Airport
Yesilköy Airport. Lew Culkin passed through here in May 1958 on his way into Turkey and again while going out on Emergency Leave in October 1958. (Now Ataturk International Airport.)

I arrived at Yesilköy International Airport in Istanbul ("The Bull") and had no idea where I was going. I retrieved my bags and thought I should go into Istanbul and see if I could find any USAF or US people. I boarded a civilian bus headed into the city. The airport was west of the main part of the city. I saw a stop sign as we came out of the airport and onto the main road, it said "DUR". So I concluded that it meant "stop" in Turkish. As we were turning onto the main road I thought I saw a blue pickup truck pull out onto the main road a few blocks behind us. Blue was the color of the USAF so I made my way to the back of the bus and, sure enough, it was a USAF truck! I got their attention as I was in uniform and went to the front of the bus and said “DUR”. He didn’t stop, so the pickup pulled in front of the bus and finally the bus stopped and I got off. I got into the pickup and there was a local Turk driving and the passenger was a Staff Sergeant.

Away we went, screaming down the road at dusk with people, sheep, kids and associated vehicles with no lights on and the driver banging on the side of the door to make noise for the people and everything else to get out of the way. Welcome to Turkey! This was luck, to get a ride. I asked the Sarge if he knew where TUSLOG Det 2 was. He said he didn’t know but said when we get to the USAF building in Istanbul to go to the Communications Center. If anyone would know where my detachment was, it would be them. We got to the building on a main street just east of the drive that turned off the same street into the Istanbul Hilton Hotel. I dumped my stuff in the Transit Billets and headed for the Com Center. I rang the bell and a guy came to the door and I explained I was trying to find where TUSLOG Det 2 was and gave him my orders. He said, "Just a minute". I waited and waited and finally he came to the door and said "Buddy this must be the most secret place on earth, I can’t find it." He suggested I go to Karamusel and Mainsite where the Headquarters for the secret stuff that went on was located. I asked him "how do I get to Karamusel?" He said you catch a ferry at the Galata Bridge to Yalova and then taxi to Karamusel and Mainsite. There were no eating facilities in our building as I recall we were on our own for eats.

I met a GEEIA (Ground Electronics and Installation) guy while in the Transit Billets who was from Nouassour Air Base in, Sidi Slimane, Morrocco. He was in electronics installation and he just happened to be headed for Mainsite to install a navigation beacon. They were on a C-47 flying out to Mainsite from Yesilköy airport in the morning! My good luck was holding. He said he would ask the Captain if I could hitch a ride with them, and when he came back I had a ride! The next morning we were transported back to Yesilköy International Airport and to our C-47. We took off and landed about 30 minutes later at Mainsite. The airfield at Mainsite (Karamusel, Turkey) was an old British fighter strip from WW II. When the base was established big 4 engine C-124 cargo planes loaded with stuff landed on the old strip. They were really heavy and the old strip was built to handle light weight fighters so the runway was all cracked and broken. Luckily there were no potholes to roll a wheel into, but it sure was bumpy. I finally caught up, once again, with my classmates.

We were then informed as to where we were going. It seemed my orders were typed TUSLOG Detachment 2. There was no such place as Det 2. They said we were going to two remote sites Samsun and Trabzon both on the Black Sea. We had a guy in our class who I couldn’t stand and for some reason latched onto me like I was his long lost buddy. They informed us we could select between the two sites and that they needed 3 for Trabzon and 7 for Samsun, when two had volunteered for Trabzon and he was not one of them was not one of them, I volunteered for Trabzon! It was then they told us "Those of you going to Samsun are fairly lucky regards the area but those of you going to Trabzon is really a remote and isolated part of Turkey."

See? My luck again.

Karamusel was a village on the Sea of Marmara, about four to five miles west of the Air Force & U.S. Navy base called "Mainsite" (and in the winters, "Mudsite"). Yalova, a main transportation center, was larger and was about 15 miles west of Mainsite, and that's where, the next day we caught the ferry back to the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. We stayed in the Transit Billets in the Air Force building in Istanbul until our "Black Boat" left on Tuesday or Wednesday for Trabzon from a dock just north of the Galata Bridge on the Bosporus.

I was assigned to TUSLOG Detachment 3-1 in Trabzon, Turkey. TUSLOG was an abbreviation for "Turkish United States Logistics Group" as we were apparently supplying the Turks with something. I never did find out what it was. Later my duty station was re-designated as the 6939th Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM), United States Air Force Security Service. I worked in electronic intelligence (ELINT).

In May 2008 I went back and reproduced my approximate timeline traveling to Turkey as follows.

  • 12 May 1958 Lv Los Angeles, CA on TWA to Idlewild Airport New York City
  • 12 May 1958 Ar McGuire AFB, NJ
  • 18 May 1958 Lv McGuire AFB to Rhein Main AFB, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 19 May 1958 Ar Rhein Main AFB
  • 22 May 1958 Lv Rhein Main AFB for Istanbul, Turkey on Pan American Airlines
  • 22 May 1958 Ar Yesilköy International Airport, Istanbul
  • 23 May 1958 Ar Mainsite (Karamusel, Turkey) Hop on C-47
  • 25 May 1958 Lv Yalova on ferryboat to Galata Bridge Istanbul (2 hours)
  • 27 May 1958 Lv Istanbul for Trabzon
  • 30 May 1958 Ar Trabzon, Turkey

A note of interest: my wife (second wife) and I took a Rick Steves Tour of Western Turkey in 2002. While staying in Istanbul we and our friends scheduled a Turkish dinner and belly dancing show. The taxi pulled up to a building and I thought this building looked really familiar to me. We went down several stories into the lowest level to the Restaurant. It was then I realized this building was where the USAF leased several floors, and where I had stayed in the Transit Billets in 1958, 44 years before.

Lew on Boztepe (Grey Hill)
Lew Culkin in his "local" civvies on the Boztepe (Grey Hill) above Trabzon.

Turkish ID Card
Lew Culkin's Turkish ID card.


White Boat bound for Trabzon
There were two boats from Istanbul to Trabzon: the "Black Boat" (Tuesdays) and the "White Boat" (Fridays). Guess what colors they were?

 

I had tried to book a boat trip to Trabzon but it was too early in the season and the boats were not traveling to "Trab".

Back to 1958: On arrival in Trab' I stayed at the Trabzon Palas Hotel on the north side of Taksim Square. We used to listen to “Moscow Molly” on the radio. All three of us were welcomed to Trab' by name, rank and serial number by “Moscow Molly”. Things were really secret!

There were about 12 of us at the site on arrival in May 1958 and about 300 by May 1959 when I left, just before the barracks and base opened. There were only about 8 of us ELINT guys so we had to work 12 hours on, 12 hours off, because we were so short of troops. Most of the 300 were support troops for the base about to open and not OPS guys.

See? My luck again!


The Mansion in Town


Our house in Trabzon
Our house at Gaza Pasha Mahallasi Tavanli Chirkmazi Oan Icki (#12).

 
 

Closet in shared room
Lew's bed and closet in the room he shared with Johnson.

Because we did not have a true "base," we lived in town, on per diem of about $9.00 a day. Most of us had rented houses and lived in the town of Trabzon as the operations were just above Trab on the “Boztepe”, or top of Grey Mountain. What our guys would do is buy furniture, dishes, silverware, beds etc., rent and set up a house, and when one of the guys in the house rotated back to the ZI (Zone Interior- US) he would sell his interest in the house to one of the yeni (new) men just coming in. The outgoing person would then move into the hotel until he shipped out. I looked around for a house to buy into and found one. It cost about $100 to buy out the guy leaving.

The house was at Gaza Pasha Mahallesi Tavanli çhirkmazi #12 just west of the HQ and Base Exchange and past the ekmek (bread) shop. There were five of us in the house, with a maid/cook. MSGT Verlin R. Dick from Sherman, TX a retread to ECM, MSGT Ramey a COMM Center guy, A/2C Richard L. Johnson from Estherville, Iowa, an ECM guy, A/2C Gurley Evans a Supply guy, and myself A/2C Lewis B. Culkin Jr. an ECM guy.

 

Bombsite (Squat) Toilet
The Bombsite - Our local house toilet.

The house was local and the restroom was typically Turkish. The uh..."facilities" consisted of a cement square with two raised foot prints for your feet and a hole for the drain and a tank above the toilet with a chain for flushing. Naturally being the Air Force we nicknamed these toilets "Bombsites." (What once was universally called a "squat toilet" has been, for the most part - throughout the more popular eastern countries - replaced by the modern, standard, porcelain type. Ed.)

Lew's Kismet CardLew still has his "Club Kismet" Charter Member Card for their Club in the back corner of the Headquarters building in Trabzon.

Shortly after arrival a group of us took up a collection to update the "Club" (bar) in the HQ building. I gave and they got a bar built, stools, chairs, tables and a booth around the outside wall. I got my “Charter Member” Club Kismit card. There were only about 12 of us as “Charter Members” since we donated to the furniture and establishing the Club. I believe the bar existed prior to this but was rather "rustic". The Club was a good place to hang out as beer was 10¢ a can and mixed drinks were 25¢ each.

The house's beloved stove.
The house's stove.

A bus would go through town picking up the guys and take them up the Boztepe to work. It was called the "Blue Goose," a 6X6 with a covered van on the back. The admin guys worked five days a week, usually 0800 to 1700. We ops guys worked 24-7. It was called “Trick” work as follows: 3 days 8:00a-4:00p; 3 swings 4:00p-12:00m; 3 mids 12:00m-8:00a; then 3 days off

  Lew's Flattop haircut
Lew's flattop haircut - very '50s!
 

Working tricks kept your body clock so screwed up you never got it straightened out for the entire year...at least until the last two or three months, when we worked 12 hours on and 12 off, due to a shortage of our kind of OPS guys: the ELINT crew.

I remember our Trick Chief was a black guy named “Smitty” (Smith). Smitty finished his tour in Trab' and volunteered for Peshawar, Pakistan and then after the Pakistan tour he volunteered for Shemya, in the Aleutians. He must have loved the remote sites.

The GangThis is "the gang" a bunch of youngsters who lived in our neighborhood.

Some of the guys were into the black market big time. I never did because when my tour was up I was going home. It seemed there had been about 50 refrigerators, hundreds of tires, dozens of radios and record players etc shipped to the BX in Trab. USAFSS and the OSI in Europe began to wonder why 15-20 guys needed all of this stuff. They sent a secret message to our site Commander Major Erving that several OSI guys with their cover names, jobs and everything were going to be infiltrating Trab' to try and seek out and catch the black marketers. One of the biggest black marketers worked in the Com Center and received the OSI Secret message. Well, that put the Kaibosh on their plans as everyone at the site knew who they were, when they were coming, etc. The black market shut down while they were there. There used to be an Italian Consulate in Trabzon but it had closed several years ago. The Catholic Church in Italy established a church in Trabzon for the local Consulate people to go to church. The church, priest and a brother stayed on after the Consulate closed. We used to go to church at the Catholic Church and helped take care of the remaining priest and brother by donations ($) and volunteer work at the church. Recently I read a local young Muslim terrorist had murdered one of the brothers at the church in Trabzon.


 

Quail
Gurley Evans and our maid/cook Emmina on our back patio. Below, Gurley plays the part of our maid Emmina. cleaning the quail that flew across the Black Sea from Russia.
Gurley Evans role-playing

Kitchen of our home
The kitchen of the Trabzon house.
 

I remember in the fall after the rain and fog started, the quail (bildircin kus) would fly from Russia, across the Black Sea, and land in Turkey totally exhausted. They would fly in by the thousands and literally crash land. At night long all you saw were the Turks with kerosene lanterns and big nets on poles combing the hillsides catching the quail for dinners. I remember Johnson going out with some of his local Turk hunting friends and coming home with hundreds of them. Emmina (our maid and cook) was in the kitchen cleaning them. She would pick up a live bird and bite the head off and toss it in a pan to be plucked later. Her mouth was full of blood and feathers. It took an awful lot of them to make a meal as they were so small.

One day I came home from work about 1630, opened the front door and was met with the foulest stench of rotten meat. It was enough to gag a maggot. There was Emmina mixing hamburger and onions for hamburgers for dinner. I told her to get that stuff out of here and fired her on the spot. So it was canned Dinty Moore beef stew for dinner. The maids and houseboys used to buy the older meat which was cheaper and pocket the difference for fresher good meat. In the 1950s, to go to a local meat market in Turkey was a real experience. First there was no refrigeration and the meat would be hanging on a hook in the market and would be black with flies. The butcher would wave a newspaper and the flies would fly off the meat while the butcher would hack a piece of meat off the carcass. The flies would move immediately back to the meat. He would wave the newspaper over the wood stump chopping block to get the flies off and would place your meat on the block with some flies and proceed to pound it with a mallet to tenderize it. You just hoped no flies were pounded into your meat but there was always several.

Our Street
The street we lived on.

Mehmet, houseboy
Our houseboy/cook Mehmet after Emmina.



Dick Johnson
Lew's roommate Dick Johnson from Estherville, Iowa.


Oranges from Adana
We very seldom got oranges but some came in from Adana in southern Turkey and boy were they good.

We hired our houseboy Mehmet after Emmina, and things ran pretty smoothly with him.

Later as the troop strength began to build up Major Erving, the site commander. came on board and Captain Chlarsen came in as our ECM officer. Prior to that, a First Lieutenant was the only officer at the site for quite a while.


We used to go hunting with some of the locals. I wasn’t into it very much, but my roommate Dick Johnson was a big hunting guy. M/Sgt Dick got to go to Europe on leave and meet his wife who flew over from the States. Johnson gave him the money to buy him a Browning over and under shotgun and a Mannlicher Schroener .243 rifle and bring them back to Turkey which he did. Dick Johnson ended up a Game Warden in Missouri Valley, Iowa along the Missouri River.

Seeing the Local Sights

 

Suleman Monastery
Now known as Sümela, the monastery was founded in the year 386 (during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I, AD 375 - 395) by two Athenian priests, Barnabas and Sophronius. Legend states that they found an icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain and decided to remain in order to establish the monastery.    During its long history, the monastery has fallen into ruin several times and was restored by successive Emperors; During the 6th Century AD, it was restored and enlarged by General Belisarius at the behest of Justinian.

     Monastery Icons
     Icon paintings on the
     ceiling inside the monastery.

We went south in the mountains to, I believe it was the Monastery of St. Theopastikos (sp) a former Greek monastery up in the side of a mountain. The religious paintings on the ceiling and walls of religious people had been defaced by local Turks. It was very difficult to get up to the site. Later some of the English archaeologists who used to come to the Club to talk to someone who spoke English, and who were working on the Monastery told us that Trabzon was seven years older than the city of Rome and supposedly Christ had walked the streets of Trabzon during a visit. We knew it was old but WOW!

The Monastery #1
The Greek Monastery high in the mountains south of Trabzon.
  The Monastery
Another view of the monastery.
Another view of the Monastery
The Greek Monastery high in the mountains south of Trabzon.
  Road to the Monastery
The Greek Monastery high in the mountains south of Trabzon.


  Aras

Aras Perekli- Lew and Aras Perekli a local Turkish teenager who lived a block or two from our house. He was studying English in High School and used to hang out with us to practice his English. His father owned a taxi and we used to use it when we needed a taxi.

We had a local neighbor a block away who was a Taxi driver. You had to be fairly well off to own a car, so I would say he was middle class. He had a son, Aras Perikli (at right), who was a high school student and used to practice his English with us. We would take his father's taxi when we went anywhere in order to give him some extra business, and we knew we wouldn’t be ripped off. We also frequently invited them over to dinner and visited their house several times for meals as well. We went with the family to the futbol (soccer) games at the stadium when Trabzon was playing, and we'd root for Trab'.

Several of us took the "Blue Goose" up the coast to Rize for a beach outing and had a nice day. After dinner in Rize, on the way back most of us were half crocked and it was dark. The Goose had a governor limiting it to about 60 mph max. The coast along that area goes into a valley across a river coming out of the mountains, and then there's a climb along the shore then down into another valley, river etc. Well, we were going down the hill toward the river and bridge in neutral and were really rolling. A couple of guys were riding outside the van on top of the cab (which shows the condition most of us were in). As we hit the bottom of the hill and started coming into the valley we hit a water buffalo that was crossing the road. With the high front bumper and winch in front (all steel and sturdy), it picked the buffalo up and luckily, it cleared the entire van, landing in the road behind us. We were lucky it did, as the 2 guys riding on top of the cab would have been splattered into the van and killed. There was nothing we could do so we decided to shut up and not say anything. After stopping at the river and cleaning off the front bumper we went back to Trab'. The Turks always blamed the GI’s for everything that happened. In this case they were right, but Major Erving decided to fight it. However, he stopped all driving by us and hired local Turk drivers.

The local drivers had problems for a while, grinding gears etc. but eventually got the hang of it. On the way up the Boztepe there were several sharp switchback turns where the Goose had to pull up, then back up to finally be able to make a turn. On a swing shift a new Turkish driver pulled the Goose up to the turn and had trouble shifting gears and braking. He took his foot off the brake and we began to roll backwards to the edge of the drop off. You never saw guys move so fast to bail out.

The "Blue Goose" used to make its run thru town picking us up to go to work. It went west out of Taksim Square on the north and went further west took a cross street to the south main road back east to Taksim Square. One day, after the local Turk drivers took over driving, the Goose was traversing the cross street to pick up the main road back east to Taksim. There was a "çay" (tea) shop on the northeast corner. The roof was made of flattened out GI beer and soda cans soldered together to make the roof. The Turk driver cut the corner too sharp and hooked the end of the roof of the çay shop which was loaded at that time of the morning with locals having their morning çay and simit rolls. Instead of backing up and cutting the corner wider to clear the roof he put the vehicle in low gear and plowed forward, thus collapsing the entire roof. The dust flew, and out of the shop came the pissed-off Turks and the driver made a fast retreat out of there. Nothing further became of the incident as far as I knew.

2 September 1958: I was on duty that day. A C-130 Recon aircraft out of Germany had taken off from İncirlik AFB in Adana, Turkey and was headed for Trab. We were tracking him via his radar. He would turn it on for a few seconds periodically so we could get a burst for tracking. Since we were a “Passive” site we never transmitted any “Live” transmissions, we just listened. Also, we knew he had the same capabilities on board that we had on the ground. The C-130 came up over Trab' and went out over the Black Sea. We thought that was somewhat odd. We figured he was using his loop antenna and could only tell the direction of the Trab' beacon as either off the nose or tail. After he went out over the sea he turned back toward the southeast to a southerly course. We assumed he probably thought he was receiving the Trab beacon off his tail i.e. 180 degrees and that is why he went out over the Black Sea.

Actually, he probably did not know it, but he was receiving the Russian decoy beacon 5X5 out of Sochi straight off the nose of the 130. We had picked up the strong 5X5 beacon signal from Sochi, USSR putting out the same letters as Trab’s beacon. When he headed SE he homed on what he thought was the Turk beacon at Lake Van, Turkey but actually was a Russian beacon putting out the Lake Van, Turkey letters 5X5 from Lenikan, USSR to the east of Lake Van, Turkey that overrode the Lake Van beacon. A piece of the USSR juts into Turkey and there were several MIG’s waiting for the 130 to cross into USSR airspace and they shot the 130 down. We had received and recorded all of the Russian activity all the way from the MIG’s taxiing to take off. We knew the pilots names, aircraft numbers from communications with the tower at Lenikan. We heard the pilots describing their passes and firing on the 130. The tail ramp was coming down and people parachuting out the back and pieces flying off the plane as they made their strafing runs. All of this info was sent back to the US and President Eisenhower made the decision to release all of the info at the UN in a protest to the Russians. It was a big decision as there was no doubt where the info came from and what we were doing in Trab'. Just another exciting day in the life of an Airman in Trabzon. We knew that guys got out of the 130 but the Russians said they all died in the crash. BS. We never got any of them back. We assumed the Russians interrogated them and killed them.


Boztepe mosaic
A photo-mosaic panorama of Boztepe

We operated on the top of the Boztepe just above town at about 800 feet. Beyond our site, there was a sheer cliff in a grove of trees. The ops area was surrounded by a barbed wire fence and was guarded outside by the Turk draftee Army. Inside the compound, we had a Comm Center which was several 6X6’s parked side-by-side and joined by a hallway along the back of them. Next to that to the east was the supply Quonset hut and next to that was the ELINT Quonset. Just outside the gate about 50 feet to the north and slightly west was the Quonset hut that housed our power generating equipment, 3 Caterpillar diesel engines. Each would run 8 hours and then they would shift to another one for 8 hours etc., etc. Whenever it was power change time we had to shut down all of our electronic equipment to avoid damage by a power surge. If we were running a “Mission” the power change would not occur until the “Mission” was over.

In addition to operations we were our own maintenance guys for our equipment. I worked in maintenance and was up one of our Yagi antennas one day above the tree tops doing a maintenance job. I looked out over the Black Sea and noticed two black smoke contrails coming from Russia. It was two MIGS. They came right over town and one banked to the east and one banked toward Akçaabat, west of Trabzon. The one to the east went right down on the deck and headed back toward Russia. The one to the west turned around and headed right back for the site on what I assume was a photo recon run. He was so low I swear I could feel the heat of his exhaust and see the pilot in the cockpit who I swear had a mustache. As he was passing over I gave him a local “UP YOURS” from my elbow up. So I am probably recorded in one of the Soviet Intel records somewhere in Russia.

Istanbul from the Gooney Bird
Istanbul, in the distance, taken from the window of the Group "Gooney Bird" (C-47) over the Sea of Marmara as Lew was going on Emergency Leave in October, 1958.

 

Once, the Group Gooney Bird (C-47) had come in from Mainsite to the Trabzon airport for a visit. They needed some of us to guard it overnight and I was one of them. They had some milk on board and we never did have milk locally so we enjoyed the milk overnight. The local airport was something to land and take off from: the runway was rather short and the west end stopped and dropped off a cliff into a quarry about 100-200 feet deep. The east end dropped off into a steep canyon.

On October 18th my first child (a daughter) was born at St. John’s Hospital Santa Monica, CA.

In late October I went on emergency leave to Omaha as my mother was nearing the end of battling cancer for 12 years. It was about the time the clouds and rain moved in from the Black Sea and it usually lasted most of the winter. I caught the THY (Türk Hava Yollari) airline DC-3. As we flew west out of Trabzon the clouds and rain really hit. We went west and then turned into a valley heading south. As we went further south the valley began narrowing with mountains on both sides, finally the canyon ended and the pilot pulled back on the stick and up we went disappearing into the clouds. We topped out after a bit and flew on to Ankara and then to Istanbul. I got to the Galata Bridge and the ferry to Yalova and on to Mainsite. I went to flight ops on arrival and they told me the Group C-47 was leaving this afternoon to fly to Wheelus AFB, Tripoli, Libya. There were many flights out of Wheelus to the US as it was the end of MATS (Military Air Transport Service) in North Africa.

We went out to the WW II British fighter strip and the "Gooney Bird". The Turk draftee Army guarded the plane and when we opened the door they had popped the twenty man life raft inside the plane which now ran up the sides of the plane all the way to the top. There was nothing we could do but deflate it and remove it as it was useless. All that was left were three six man rafts. We cranked up and took off for Yesilköy in the “BULL” as we had to check out of the country. Once we had checked out and were taxiing out to the end of the runway to take off. There was a second lieutenant (ROTC from Tulane) and one other guy riding in the back where I was. As we turned off the taxiway onto the main runway, I noticed a Lufthansa Super G Constellation on final approach. I mentioned it to the lieutenant who had a cup of coffee and he said in a rather condescending way “don’t worry about it Airman”. I got up and moved all the way to the back of the plane and held on. The “Connie” went right over us with a tremendous roar and screaming. I looked out the front windshield and saw him just miss us by what couldn’t have been more than 15-20 feet. The pilots were yelling and screaming and the lieutenant flew off his seat, yelling and screaming and slammed his head on the overhead and spilled his coffee all over himself. I said, "I tried to tell you". If this was the way it was going to be, it was going to be an adventurous flight.

We took off and headed for Athens.

Wheelus Air Base
Wheelus AFB, Tripoli, Libya. The last point of scheduled MATS (Military Air Transport Service) and the (normal) way in and out of Turkey.

 

We arrived in Athens to refuel and to file our flight plan for Wheelus. When we taxied out the starboard engine began missing on run-up for takeoff, so it was back to the station. The crew chief said it was probably moisture that had condensed in a spark plug in a cylinder. He changed out plugs and started up and ran it up and no missing. We took off for Wheelus. While in Athens, weather said there was a storm moving from west to east in the Mediterranean. Our original flight plan was to fly southwest direct to Wheelus but while we were changing plugs etc the storm moved into the direct route so the plan was to fly directly south to Benghazi then west over the Bay of Benghazi to Tripoli. Unbeknownst to us the storm had moved east faster than forecasted. We took off and started climbing and it was getting rougher and rougher as we tried to climb over it. Then the starboard engine started missing again. That’s when one of the crew members from the cockpit came back and said you better put your chutes on. We went to the back of the plane and got our chutes on. We started dropping lower and lower as the engine kept missing. There was St. Elmos fire discharging static in long bolts of lighting off the dischargers on the wings. If we had to bail out we would be spread all over the Med and to ditch would be like hitting a brick wall as the waves were huge. We were bouncing all over the place. Finally the engine straightened out and as the weather began to diminish we were over Benghazi and it was smooth the rest of the way to Wheelus.

Brig. Gen. Lackey, the wing Commander, was on board and came back to talk to me. We - the guys on the remote sites - were his favorite troops. He asked how it was going at Trab' and I said good. He asked where I was going and I told him I was going home on emergency leave as my mother was dying. He expressed his condolences and went back to the cockpit. When we landed at Wheelus a jeep met the plane and asked for Culkin. I yelled "yo!" and he said, "get in we are holding a C-124 bound for the ZI for you!" I got in and he whipped across the tarmack to a 124 that had the two starboard engines running and I climbed on board and away we went. One of the crew said to me you must be really important to hold the plane for, I said “I’m just one of the guys from the sites”. Gen Lackey had radioed ahead and said to hold the plane for me. I had always liked Gen Lackey before, but now I really had a reason to like him. "THANKS GENERAL!"

We flew to Torrejón Air Force Base outside Madrid, Spain and then took off for Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda. We lost an engine over the Atlantic just past the point of no return so it was on to Kindley. At Kindley I got a hop on a C-130 to Charleston AFB, SC and caught Delta Airlines to Chicago. I believe I changed to United and on to Omaha. I had not slept until I got on the Delta flight and then I crashed. The Stewardess had a heck of a time waking me up to change planes. My Aunt Esther picked me up at the Omaha Airport.

My wife and new daughter (about two weeks old) flew from California to meet me at my Aunt’s house in South Omaha, Nebraska. My mother had gone to her sister’s house in Omaha as there was not the type of care she needed in Montana. My father was also there from Montana where he was building their retirement house. My Grandma Peterson was also there as she lived with her daughter.

I had a good 30 days leave. It was good to see my mother alive rather than just come home for a funeral. Dr. Muskin, a friend of my Aunt's was taking care of my mother and he had worked out the emergency leave through the Red Cross.

As a sidelight, I had lost 20 pounds in Turkey and I gained 20 pounds on my 30 day leave and after 30 days back in Turkey I lost the 20 pounds!

I took the bus from Omaha to Charleston AFB, South Carolina and while there, I bumped into one of the guys from Trab' who was also home on emergency leave and returning to Turkey. It was a C-121 Connie out of Charleston and halfway to Lages AFB in the Azores, we lost an engine. We didn’t know it but there was a strong tropical storm in the Atlantic and we were the last plane out as they grounded the ones behind us. When we got to Lages a cross wind was really blowing. The engine that was feathered was creating tremendous drag on the port side and the crosswind was from the starboard side. Just as we were about to touchdown a gust hit the good side and raised the wing. I was sitting on the bad side and the wing tip headed down for the ground. I swear the wing tip just missed the ground by a couple of feet. The pilot pulled her out of it and we went around for another go, making it in OK. We made it to Wheelus and had a chance to hop a C-119 carrying 55 Gal drums of Aviation gas to Turkey. We said "no thanks". We got a C-130 hauling heaters for the remote sites in Turkey and spent over night in Athens. We went into town and to the clubs and were broke and missed our flight the next day. Too bad, Athens is not a bad place to be stuck. We borrowed money from the Red Cross and got another flight to Ankara and Türk Hava Yollari to Trabzon.

We never did see those heaters for the remote sites in Turkey.

The 30 days at home, and then having to return to Trab' for another 6 months was the pits. I really had a hard time the last six months.

 

6939TH RADIO SQUADRON, MOBILE, (USAFSS)
United States Air Force
APO 338, New York, New York


PERSONNEL ACTIONS MEMORANDUM)

NUMBER 23)

17 November 1958

6. UP PARA 15e, AFM 35-1, and Pt 1, Par 14b, AFM 35-1, and Recm Class board.

A/2C LEWIS B. CULKIN, JR., AF19582403, (PAFSC & cafsc 30330) this sta, is awarded new PAFSC 30350 upon completion of OJT-C. Airman released OJT-C. AFSC 30330 will be deleted from all records. CAFSC chgd to 30350. No chgd in DAFSC or FC.

CLAUDE M. ERVING
Major, USAF
Commander

 

Others listed on the same orders were:

  • SSGT Charles M. Holmes
  • A/1C Dean A. Glassmyer
  • A/2C Kenneth R. Carroll
  • A/2C John L. Castaldi
  • A/2C Gary G. Dills
  • A/2C Reasie A. Eldridge
  • A/2C Robert W. Learmann
  • A/2C Thorfin D. Spears
  • A/2C James L. Zurasky

I believe it was for Thanksgiving that Group at Mainsite had frozen turkeys flown in for each house in Trab' and also for the other sites in Turkey. Mehmet our houseboy left the turkey in the kitchen on the sink in a roasting pan to thaw. Well Johnson and I came downstairs and there was a cat eating the breast out of our turkey, so we didn’t get turkey for Thanksgiving. We were going to have the local bakery across from HQ roast the turkey for us in their ovens.

Showering had to be a planned event. There was a large copper water heater in the corner of the shower area and you had to light a wood fire in the bottom of the water heater to heat the water which took awhile.

Dec 1958, I received a telegram that my mother had passed away.


1959


It was really cold this winter. Supply issued us long sheepskin-lined coats like the ones worn in Korea. We bought several kerosene heaters on the local market. (As I mentioned earlier, we never did see the heaters for the “Remote Sites” on that C-130 we rode on from Athens to Ankara.) We would run our heaters at night in the room to keep warm while we slept. We would get up in the mornings and blow our noses and nothing but black soot came out. Later in life, I remember a chest X-ray where the Doctor said I had something on my lung picture he did not know what it was. I believe it is the residue from the kerosene heaters. It would get so cold we would sleep with the long sheep skin lined coats on - So cold we would get cold through the mattress we slept on.

In late March I sold my interest in the house to an incoming Airman and moved into the Trabzon Palas Hotel on the North side of Taksim Square, the main square in the town. The hotel was toward the west on the north side of the square. We ate at the Yeşil Yurt (Yeşilyurt) Restaurant (Green Homeland) a few doors down on the north side of the square.

There was a bank robbery in town by about seven people. The Turks always said the perpetrators of any crime were communists. The police on the beat did not have any vehicles so they commandeered Taxis to give chase. They chased them up into the mountains south of Trabzon and there was a gun battle. Two of the seven were killed and two were wounded. They brought five of them back to town and put them in the jail just down the hill from our Headquarters and Base Exchange on the west side of the street. Their trial was held the next day and naturally they were found guilty and sentenced to death. The death sentence was to be carried out several weeks later to give the "Polis" an opportunity to advertise the public hanging. They began building the hanging scaffold in "Taksim Square". My hotel window gave me a view right at the scaffold. After it was built I could hear them testing the operating trap door mechanism.

On the date of the hanging the square was jammed with people and vendors selling lemonade, çay and simits. The Hotel Manager asked if it was OK for his relatives to come into our room to watch. We agreed and there must have been 10-15 people in our room! Out our front window the perps were brought out and were walked up the stairs to the five trap doors and the hanging ropes. They had to help the wounded ones but they were there, all 5 of them. The crowd cheered like it was a sporting event when they were brought in. They hung them one at a time starting on the left and proceeding to the right. Each time one dropped thru the trapdoor a tremendous cheer would go up from the crowd. By the time they got to the 4th and 5th one they could not stand and were propped up. After the last one was hung the crowd began to disburse and in 30 minutes the square was back to normal. What an event. They left them hanging and cut them down after dark. The hanging was about 10:00 a.m. and in the afternoon the faces of the perps were purple and bloated. It was ugly. I asked the hotel Manager about leaving them all day. He said it was to "send a message to the people, this is what happens to criminals, so be good or this may be you."

303 Boys
The ELINT guys from Capt. Chlarsen's group, TUSLOG Det 3-1, Trabzon, Turkey 1958-59. Not positive of ID but L-R believe Davis, Brown, Sickmon, Glassmyer (Positive ID), Sadler (Positive ID), Edmondson and Thompson.

 

When we were off duty, we wore civvies and tried to blend in with the locals (low key). I had long sideburns and a big mustache. One day I noticed a small crowd gathered around a car in Taksim Square and wandered over to the back of the crowd and was listening and watching the goings on. There were two British guys and their car had two flat tires. They were going along the Black Sea coast from the west and were going to go south out of Trab. to Beirut. The local Turk had removed the tire and was saying to the Brits “yok elastic (no tubes), yok elastic, fena”. The tires were tubeless and the local Turks had never seen tubeless tires so the leader was saying the tire did not have a tube and was bad. They did not know any Turkish and did not understand what the local was saying. I said “What seems to be the problem?” They looked around as to who said that, and I stepped out of the crowd. I told them what the local was saying, that they had never seen a tubeless tire. The Turks used to spike down the tire boards across the rivers to hold them in place. After awhile the spikes would work loose and come up, a car would run over them and a flat tire resulted. I said the Turks could not fix the tubeless tire as they did not have the patch kit for tubeless. The Brits asked, “What do we do?” I said buy tubes from the locals and put them in the tires as the Turks knew how to patch a tube type tire. The Brits were really grateful.

There were two of us in the hotel room both waiting to rotate out to the ZI (U.S.) One of the meals at the Yeşil Yurt was a bad one. I had come down with two or three bouts of food poisoning while in Turkey, but this was the worst. Both of us had eaten late in the afternoon as we were working 12 on and 12 off as we did not have enough guys to do the three trick gig. We went to work and walked down the mountain after work as we usually did. After arriving at the hotel we started to vomit and hit the bombsite (squat) toilet. We had one of the other guys in the hotel tell Doc, our Medic, a Tech Sergeant, that we were sick and needed to see him. He stopped by about 10:00 AM and gave us each a small medicine bottle of paragoric and bismuth. I believe it had some narcotic in it. He told us to take a sip each time after hitting the head and he would stop back later. We did as he said taking a small sip after each bombsite visit. Man it was really bad. I had eaten more of the food than my roommate and was the worst of the two. Doc stopped back about 2:00 p.m. and we had drunk all of our medicine. He was shocked. He said it should have lasted all day. He gave us more and said to slow down on the amount we took. I was out of it for two or three days in a coma and did not know what was going on. I started coming out of it after three or four days and that is when Doc revealed to me that 2 days ago he was about ready to call in the Medevac to fly me out I was so bad he thought he was going to lose me. My normal weight in Turkey was 160 it was at 140 after this bout with food poisoning.

My orders were cut as follows.

 

TUSLOG, DETACHMENT 3-1
United States Air Force
APO 338, N.Y., N.Y.

SPECIAL ORDERS)
27 April 1959

NUMBER A-44)

2. A/2C LEWIS B. CULKIN, JR, AF19582403, (CAFSC: 30350) (FC: 8402024) ASSIGNMENT: Relieved assignment 6939th RSM (USAFSS), APO 338, N.Y., N.Y., Assigned Hq, 6940th Tech Tng Gp, Goodfellow AFB, Texas.

REPORTING DATA: Thirty (30) DDALV: LV ADD: 1515 Brocton Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Rept To Comdr, AIRPAXCEN, Wheelus AB, Libya NLT 2000 hours, 10 May 1959 for MATS Flt A-72 to ZI. Rept to Comdr, Hq, 6940th Tech Tng Gp, Goodfellow AFB, Texas NLT thirty-six (36) days after departure PAD. EDCSA: 17 June 1959.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: AUTH: AFM 35-11 AND Hq, USAFSS Ltr PAA-2, 22 Dec 58, Subj: RCS: AFS-P148, Apr 59 ZI Asgmts. Immunizations in accordance with AFR 160-102 will be complied with. Notify all concerned of change of address Using AF Form 305.

TRANSPORTATION: PCS. TDN: 5793500-946-2106-P531.10-0231-0398-S593900. CIC: 45-946-533.3-593900 (3-657). AMD: TIP-CHS-3PU-1321-AF05. 65 lbs baggage auth while tvl via mil air. TBMAA. TPA with six (6) days tvl time auth. If POV is not used tvl time will be time of common carrier used. Dep this sta o/a 1 May 59. Tvl by most expeditious means from this sta to KARAMURSEL, Turkey is auth for further processing and transportation to PAE. AMN will depart Istanbul, Turkey o/a 8 May 59. Amn auth shipment of HOLD baggage.

 

Yes, the orders were cut...but I got delayed!

See? Just my luck!

The gaining Command had to pay for your seat on MATS out of Wheelus. It seems we were at the end of the fiscal year and USAFSS and because of the one year remote isolated tours was out of money. So I went thru several iterations of get a seat, no money, cancel seat, get money, get a seat, no money, cancel seat, and on and on!

They finally got it all in sync and I caught Türk Hava Yollari to Ankara and the French Airline ATA from Ankara to Tripoli, Libya and a C-121 to Charleston AFB, South Carolina. In Charleston I got on a Trailways bus for Los Angeles. Trailways was great as they were not very crowded. We went northwest thru Orangeburg, Spartanburg and on to Ashville, where I changed buses for the trip to Amarillo, Texas. It was evening and I moved to the back seat and was able to lie down and sleep. Then across northern Alabama thru Huntsville across northern Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas, Oklahoma City and Amarillo, Texas which was the end of Trailways.

I had to change to Greyhound, and the bus was jammed. They were running five buses to Los Angeles. I drew a big fat lady as my seatmate. She overflowed into my seat all the way to Los Angeles. It was not a comfortable trip. We went thru Albuquerque, Flagstaff and somehow across Arizona and to I-10 and on into LA. I was so pooped, I splurged on a taxi to West L.A.


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