© 2003-2011 by Author
This is some of what I remember about Sinop, not necessarily in chronological order.
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The Drafty Start:
It was a cold and rainy fall day just after Thanksgiving. I had received a letter from my “Friends and Neighbors” asking me to come down and take a Physical. The Draft Board has struck! So here I am in line in my underwear. When I got to the hearing test I noticed some strange things going on. While testing my hearing they changed the equipment four times. That did not happen to anyone else. I was asked if I could really hear the signals on the last test and I said, "I gave the right answer didn’t I?" He said "Smart Ass,get into the next line." About 20 minutes later this great big mean, old-looking Master Sergeant called out my name and I answered. "Follow me," he said. We went down a long dark corridor, turned left into another corridor and went to the last office on the right. I stepped in, the shade was down and there was on old Regulator clock on the wall with roman numerals on the dial. The office smelled musty. There was an old steam radiator hissing under the window. "Shut the door and sit down," he barked. Then he blasted me with a barrage of unusual questions: "Do you advocate the overthrow of the United States Government? Are you a member of the Communist Party? Do you have a Criminal record? Have you ever been arrested?" I thought "Oh shit what have I done?"
As beads of sweat were appearing on my face I answered, "NO," to all of those questions. I guess he could see the terror on my face when he said those infamous words, "Relax." I want to make you an offer you can’t refuse... If you enlist for 3 years I can get you out of the vacation in South East Asia (Vietnam). I can't tell you anything about it because it is Top Secret," he said, so I signed up in the ASA unassigned for 3 years. He gave me a great big multi-page form and told me to fill out everything I had done and every place I had lived for the past 20 years. I said, "But I am only 18 years old." "Do your best," he replied. I arranged December 27 as my start day so I could spend my Christmas at home.
Training and School
I took my very first train ride to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for basic training. I had shot for 3 years in my High School's NRA Rifle Club, so I managed to shoot at expert level with the M1 Garand. Winter training is so wonderful...NOT!
After Basic Training I received orders to go to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey Signal School. My newly assigned MOS was to be a 993.1 Electronic Warfare Specialist, with a special 14-week crash course.
I got married between Basic and Ft. Monmouth, and am still married after 40-plus years. She was a Lutheran, so while at Ft. Monmouth I started Lutheran adult confirmation classes. I shipped overseas a week before confirmation. Also while at Fort Monmouth, I joined the USASCS Honor Guard Drill Team. It was quite an experience, a lot of work and I had a good time. I went to Fort Hancock to train on intercept equipment, along with the millions of horseshoe crabs lining the beaches. When we were asked where we would prefer as overseas assignment, I relied on what I had learned in basic training. You never get what you ask for! I did not want to go to Shemyna, Alaska, the outermost Aleutian Island, so that is what I chose as my choice. Sure enough I got orders for Sinop, Turkey. Then I started hearing rumors (i.e. horror stories) about Sinop. They were so bad that I figured that they couldn’t be true. I was right. It was worse than the rumors, and I was there.
Pan AM to Ankara Turkey
When I got my orders and the one-way airline ticket to Turkey via Pan-Am, I also found out that I was going alone, and to the other side of the world. It was just me and my pocket bible into Islam territory. Two other GI’s just happened to get on the plane in Rome, Italy, on their way to Ankara, Turkey. We three arrived just two weeks after an attempted revolution, and 15 minutes before curfew. We were met by an US Air Force Sergeant and told to grab our gear and run to a Deuce ˝ parked in front. They started to drive off as soon as we threw our gear in the back, and we had to run and dive into the back. The truck passed sandbagged machine guns manned by Turkish Army at almost every intersection as they drove like wild men, not even stopping or slowing for red lights, and with horn blaring.
We arrived at the Air Force billets in Ankara just as curfew started. We could hear shooting all around us as they closed the gates. What a welcome to Turkey. Where is my home return ticket I asked? They just laughed. They put us up on the 4th floor of the ten-story Air Force Billet. Next morning at chow I heard the 6th floor was closed because of a 50 caliber strafing by a Turkish Air force fighter plane that turned and accidentally shot the building while shooting at the rebels at the War College. Many of the Air Force residents took pictures of this from the roof of the building looking down on the plane. I saw some of those pictures. Where is my return home ticket?
A few days later we returned to the airport to fly the infamous THY Airlines to Samsun, Turkey. I managed to snag an English-Turkish dictionary on the way through the airport, complete with the book tax stamp. Flying THY Airlines was quite an experience. It was a high wing Fairchild turboprop. We had a cute sexy stewardess wearing a colorful all black Burqa. Nice eyes though. For an in-flight snack they passed an old brown paper bag filled with hard candy left over from WW1. Take all you want if you can break a piece loose from the stuck-together mass. I soon learned the easily recognized aroma of the Turks. It was a mixture of old B. O., vomit and sickening sweet strong perfume that failed to disguise the other odors. The combination along with the smell of the Turkish cigarettes still lingers over my thoughts. I knew the rumors about Turkey were wrong. Now I wished they were right. Gag, gag, gag. The flight was uneventful. Going over the narrow pass I could see the small grass, mice, ants, and mountain marmots. We could not fly this low with the wheels down. With the wheels down we would have been 2-3 feet higher. I think we did manage to fly under some tree branches though.
The trip to Sinop from Samsun was in the back of mail run truck along a creekbed and across country. Surely this could not be a road. Riding on top of the mail bags while being beaten half to death, bouncing around in a box with one small window in the back door was quite an accomplishment to survive. When we arrived at Sinop and the hilltop, there was no room at the inn. All the new barracks were full. Even the yeni (newcomer) billets were full. So they sent us off to the new gymnasium. On the left side of the gym a two lane bowling alley was being built. There was no wood floor or equipment yet, but there was a row of bunks on the bare concrete floor. My bunk was one of the two at the very end that were below grade, in the pit for the future pin setting machine. No windows or shades on the high windows. No charge for the extra noise from the gym. Confirmation of my Top Secret Crypto Security Clearance did not arrive for two more weeks so I could not go to work in Operations. Most of my time was spent at the Enlisted Mens Club or waiting for detail work, lying on my bunk. Remember the pinsetter pit? No one could see me on my bunk unless they walked all the way to the end of the ally and looked down. People would look in the door and see no one, and they'd leave. Never did they call out or come down and look. I was invisible for most of the two weeks.
After receiving my security clearance I was moved into a converted day room in Washington Hall, which held about 30 men in one room. Everyone in there was on permanent day shift because they worked support jobs. I was the only one in the room that worked Tricks. I was assigned Trick Four. It was tough sleeping when the others were all awake, or getting ready for an inspection. I tried to get it changed, but I was told that once you are assigned a spot, you stay there until your tour is over. See my section about “Trick Four Party” below for the exception to this rule, and hints on lease-breaking. Somehow I managed to get the other 29 in the room and about 25 others to petition for my immediate relocation after five months and one “Trick Party” of cohabitation.
Operations: First day
I got the grand tour of Ops and was quite surprised. I found out that I would be in rooms one, two, and three. I was trained for rooms two and three, but the mission in room one was so Top Secret that we had no idea we would be doing that. On-the-job training was how it was done. Room one was the primary mission and room two was the secondary - when nothing was happening in room one. I was put on a position in room one the first day. Trick four was working days that week. The schedule was six days on first shift (Days), then two days off followed by six days on second shift, two days off, and six days on third shift, Midnight to 7:00am, followed by three days off! Then the whole cycle started over again. Just as your body got adjusted to when to eat and sleep, you screwed it up again. Instead of getting into a rut, your body was in a bog. The EM Club became your relief when you couldn’t sleep and offered real food when your body suddenly decided that it was hungry. To flop your sleep cycle back to the day shift after a week at third shift we usually forced ourselves to stay up and awake until 10:00 p.m. that night. That is why we had three days off. Otherwise one would fall asleep in the workstation. Very bad. We frequently went down the Hill into Sinop after breakfast, mostly for something to do.
A New Lutheran Chaplain Arrives
About two weeks after I arrived in Sinop, we got a new Chaplain, and he also happened to be Lutheran. About a month or so later he started confirmation classes. Having so many activities to choose from I decided to give up watching Television (yah, right on, heh heh) and go to the classes again. Maybe I can finish them this time. (See Trick Four party)
P. E. in the Fog
In the winter time dense fogs would roll across the hill. When we had Physical Education in the morning, and at times one could not see three feet. If you were in the middle of the group, where the NCOs and Officers couldn’t see, most of us just stood in place and counted the repetitions with the poor suckers in the front row who were working up a sweat. We never got caught. Loved that morning fog!
During the fall, we experienced a massive "escargot migration". These large white, eating types of snails covered the entire hill. Every surface was totally covered with billions of these snails. The chain link fence around OPS was solid white with them. The roadways and sidewalks were covered and we could not walk without stepping on them. Crunch squish, crunch squish. It was awful to walk on them, killing them by the hundreds. After the crunch and squish they were slippery to walk on. Running was out of the question. If you stood still too long, they too would cover you. Love those slime trails. Like slugs with shells. Fortunately, this only lasted a couple of days. I was suprised that they did not show up on the mess hall serving line.
Russian Bomber Overflight
I had just climbed into my bunk in Jackson Hall. My trick had worked third shift, I had breakfast and was getting ready to sack out. Suddenly I heard the rumble of very loud jet engines. Rolling over, I grabbed my eyeglasses and put them on. I reached up to the window and pulled the blinds apart just in time to see it. A huge Russian Badger Bomber was gliding over the quadrangle headed towards Operations! The flaps were down full as it lumbered overhead at about 100 feet off the rooftops. The big red stars on the wings looked huge. The wheels were down to help slow the airplane, and the damn Bomb-Bay doors were open full. Inside the Bomb-Bay I could see a man in flight gear strapped to the forward wall. He was operating what looked like a 70mm movie camera with two circular film drums mounted to the top. "Smile, you’re on candid camera," I thought to myself. Seconds later he was out of sight. Well so much for feeling sleepy, as I tried to peel myself off the wall. What a subtle attempt for a “spy overflight”. We were having an IG Inspection that day and our Big Brass had just arrived an hour earlier. When the Otter flew in with them, the pilot had goofed and radioed that they were on board. I guess Ivan decided to say, “Hi, we know you are there!”
3 AM Mousewich? Yummy, Yummy!
On Third shift sandwiches were sent to us in OPS at around 3:00 to 3:30 AM. One night I arrived in the break room before the sandwiches. There were perhaps three of us in the break room when a mouse ran across the floor and behind a long board lying on the floor and against the wall. I kicked the board against the wall as hard as I could. When we pulled the board away from the wall we found the mouse dead. Just then the sandwiches arrive along with 5 others. We all grabbed a sandwich. One of the guys that just came in opened his sandwich and put the dead mouse inside it, re-wrapped it and placed it back into the box of sandwiches at one end. By now about ten of us knew about the “Mousewich” and hovered nearby for an unsuspecting victim. We were awful. The guys piled in, getting their coffee and sandwiches. Finally a sergeant came in and grabbed the “Mousewich”. He fiddled around talking and took his time while jabbering with some of the other guys. Finally he slowly unwrapped it and started talking again. The suspense was building and the tension is crackling in the room. At last he opens his mouth wide and starts to put it into his watering mouth. Guess what happened? As most of us started to gag, one of the guys panics and says “Sarge, what kind of a sandwich do you have?” He withdraws the unbitten sandwich from his mouth. As he opens the sandwich he says "I have a (sees the dead mouse) OH MY GOD!" Drops the sandwich on the floor and runs out of the room to the head. Everyone else checked the insides of their sandwiches and split, back to their duty stations. We had lots of extra sandwiches left over that week. I bet that he still thinks that the Turks in the Mess Hall did that prank.
Trick 4 Party, "The Last One". Moving into Jackson Hall.
I had been in Sinop for about five months when our Trick Chief called us together. He said, "We have good news and bad news. First the good news: It's your turn for a Trick Party. The bad news is that the last three Trick parties were big flops, and poorly attended." He was told that if this party was a flop, there would be no more Trick Parties! It fell upon us to uphold ASA Tradition and throw the best party we could. We all agreed to 100% attendance. It was decided to hold it on a Saturday night during our break between third shift and first shift to give us a day to recover. I arrived a little after eight PM and there was quite a crowd. The trick Chief arrived a little later. He had a head start at the EM Club and was quite drunk already. I found an opening at a table and started playing cards, eating and drinking double Rum and Cokes. We played, told stories, jokes, and sang songs. We were having a great time all of us, but around ten pm they ran out of Rum.
What a bummer. I said, "Give me a 7-7." I had about 12 Rum and Cokes and the 7-7 hit me like 10 tons of bricks. One sip and my body went totally numb from head to toe. I tried to get up, but I fell on top of the table, laughing hysterically. My Trick Chief helped me back up and decided to help me get back to my room before he would have to carry me. It was quite a sight, two drunks staggering out the door.
It took three or four attempts to climb the stairs in front of the Enlisted Mens Club, but we succeeded. I was in hysterical laughter the whole time. The last thing I remembered is collapsing on my bunk fully dressed. I have no knowledge or memories of anything until about 10:00 am the next morning. (See Lutheran Confirmation story).
Everyone in Washington Hall hated me. The 29 roommates were particularly vile. I had stirred up a hornets nest. Nothing they could do would shut me up. Cold showers during which I could not even feel the water! I was told that at one point they had put me in my wall locker upside down. I did not believe them. They took my tape recorder and recorded me in the wall locker. They even sent the tape to my wife, stateside. I denied everything. Monday I received my eviction notice! I was assigned a room in Jackson Hall with the rest of Trick four. It turns out that I had missed out on the best part of the party: Around 1:00 AM is when the riot broke out. Two Turks and a Military Policeman got thrown out of the building through closed windows. The inside walls and furniture were trashed. The party was a resounding success. ASA Honor was upheld. All future parties were CANCELED! But the Trick 4 Party was a success!
Lutheran Confirmation, Finally!
Sunday morning after the Trick 4 party, was also Confirmation Day. Jesus had called to Lazareth to rise and come out of the tomb. About 10:00 AM I woke up. I felt like I had died and gone to Hades. Flames seemed to be devouring my insides. My head was about to explode. I hurt all over and felt sick. I should have died, I thought, but here I was half alive. He was calling to me now so I rose up and staggered to the head and started to clean myself up. Back in the room my stuff was a mess. I found my Class A uniform and put it on. I think the tie was on backward. Some Good Samaritan outside the chapel helped straighten it around to the front. I do not remember much of the sermon that morning but I was finally confirmed into the Lutheran Church. And I never got drunk again. It was over 10 years before I could stand even a Coke again, but I still do not like Rum.
KGB Spy Incident
We had just gotten off of Third shift and were required to go to a special meeting in the “Safe” conference room in OPS for a briefing. Near the end of the “Top Secret Briefing” we were informed about some people being transferred on Temporary Duty to other bases along the Black Sea. We were told not to discuss any of this information outside of this meeting ever. This was our last night on Third shift. We had the next three days off to flop our bodies over to first shift schedule. I went to the mess hall for a breakfast of old eggs, lumpy canned milk, and watery orange juice. I changed clothes and hooked up with one of my Trick Four buddies and rode the deuce into town. I went to see Hussein Ugar in the model boat and jewelry box shop, and my buddy (I think his name was "Parker") went into the variety shop two or three shops up the street. About 15 minutes later, Parker walked up to the door and motioned me to come outside. He was white as a sheet. He said that he did not feel well and needed to go up to Base immediately. I questioned him but he was evasive. We went back to the deuce and he climbed in and I joined up with two other GI’s so I could stay in town. (No soloing allowed in town for safety reasons.) The deuce left and "Parker" went back to base. The next morning we were locked down. No one was permitted off of the base.
Later a bus full of CIA/NSA agents in suits arrived. We had an all hands meeting in the Gym. The agents manned security at the main gate and at Ops. Ops was shut down to attend the meeting. The agents introduced themselves and told us we may have had a major security breach. My trick 4 buddy, "Parker" was, apparently, not as sick as he put on. Upon returning to base he immediately went to security to report what had happened to him: Less than two hours after hearing about the transfers in OPS, he was asked point blank by a Turk in town about the movement! How did they hear about it so fast? Where was the leak? Was there a bug in OPS? Many questions with few answers. They informed us that there were several KGB agents working on base. They know who they are and could control their access to information. If they busted them we might get new agents that they did not know about, and that would be worse than keeping the ones they knew about and could control. No names were given. The CIA then shared the following information with us:
About two weeks previous to this incident, the Russian Embassy in Ankara changed Ambassadors. The morning after the new one arrived he and the “Charge’ d'Affairs” of the embassy got into a car and drove over the mountains and creek beds and arrived in Sinop. He checked into a hotel, went out to a restaurant for dinner. Then he went to a movie. Sinop movies were typically open air, projected in 16mm film onto a whitewashed section of a Roman wall. You sat where you could on rocks, boxes, and a few chairs. Real classy movie theater.
The Ambassador went back to the hotel and retired for the night, and the next morning he returned to the embassy in Ankara. He made no contact and met no one while in Sinop. The movie was not that great to warrant the arduous trip over the mountains. His main purpose was to be seen with the Charge d’Affairs so the local spy agents would recognize him when they came in to report. Sinop was a hot spot for the KGB.
We were told to double our security efforts. If anyone talked in their sleep, they would be provided bunks up in OPS to sleep. "Watch out and be cautious of everyone, even your best friend." We all started sleeping with one eye open after that. Were you a spy? The walls had ears! Tension was always high. You could sleep, but you could never relax. No wonder the EM Club was so popular.
Signal Hunting Room #2
It used to get very boring late on Third shift. Not much action, so I went hunting. Usually after 3:00 AM I would go into the ELTEX files and, card by card, searched for the listed signal to see if I could find it. There were many "unknowns" listed and I would concentrate on them. One night I pulled a AUEF that was possibly associated with the Badger Bombers. We had lots of them over the Black Sea. So I started hunting for puffballs, the Badgers' main radar. I found a flight of them, about 30 all going the same direction. I carefully DFd their position and direction. Then I switched tuners to the frequency band of the listed AUEF signal. Bingo! I got one the first try. I started the recorder and got one of the other positions to tune in on the Puffball. I got a long patch cord and plugged them into one recorder on different tracks so I could record them together. It was a lobe switching radar with the PRF of around 70,000 cps. It had a very distinct butterfly flutter to the sound. It also felt like hot air or heat deep inside of my ears. I was the only one on the base that could hear or feel anything with that high a frequency. Most human hearing ability stops around 20,000 cycles per second. I had to follow the Badger within a half-degree or the signal faded. After 20 minutes of recording I terminated intercept and searched for more.
Every Puffball I found had one of these AUEF signals. I made over 20 separate intercepts that night with signal PRF varying from 66,000 cps to 88,000 cps. I used up a case of tapes that night. Then I had to fill out all the paperwork and reports about the tapes. I did not get off Third shift until about 9:00 AM. The head analysts came up to me and said that the tapes were blank, he could not hear anything on them. I told him to look at the scopes! He came back again and asked if I was human. I barked back at him:
“Woof, woof, woof.” No one on the base could hear these signals but me. I found them with my “Ears” that the draft board physical had discovered. I never found my upper limit but it was close. Do any of you other Elinters have - or have you had - super high frequency hearing? I would like to “hear” from you (Pun intended.) I never found out what this signal was. And educated guess is that it could have been a new in-flight refueling radar or something to aid close formation flying at night. The PRF was extremely close, so it would only be effective for about 100 meters or less. You could probably track a pin with it.
Master Control Surprise:
Master Control (MC) in Room One was manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The MC console was able to monitor and scan all the other positions in room one. The MC intercom was linked to every position in every room in OPS. That is one of the reasons it was named Master Control. When a mission was in progress, it was controlled from the MC console. Very seldom did we ever have a surprise. Third shift is very routine - and usually boring. One night it was my turn to man MC. It was after 3:00 AM sandwich time, and I was lazily switching through the positions in the empty room. Everyone else was in Room 2. Suddenly the earphones were screaming and my scope was in full bloom. I immediately hit the start button. The huge tape recorders jumped to life and less than a second were at a screaming speed of 120 ips. Then I pushed the intercom button and announced to the entire complex, “Signal Up.” Looking into the Nixie Tubes flashing the time, I read off the time onto the tape. Meanwhile there was a thunderous commotion behind me. I turned to look and saw the door to the main hall closing. There was someone sitting at every position putting on his earphones. The Trick Chief was there and relieved me, to take his position at MC. We were surprised. This intercept lasted for over 45 minutes. This length of time, too, was a surprise.
IG Inspection and Hiding Stuff Below the Crypto Room!
We were having our annual IG Inspection, and, as usual, we had some equipment for which we could not find paperwork. We needed to put it where it would not be noticed. Never would we think of hiding something. I discovered that the building actually had a basement. Sort of.
Inside the Cryptographic room, underneath some equipment there was a hatch in the floor. This lead to a basement space under the building where we stacked the equipment until we could find the authorized paperwork that went with it. We had all heard that the OPS complex had a destruct setup in case of an emergency. Supposedly the commander had a box in his office with a timer and or a switch in it. He could set the timer after the building was evacuated and blow it the moon; or if under attack he could push a button and immediate POOF! Self-destruct. In an emergency we were all expendable. It was inside this basement that I actually saw the hundreds of blocks of Plastic Explosives fastened below the floor of OPS building above our heads. Hundreds of wires converged into one big metal box. One armored cable came out of its side and snaked along the ceiling, passing through a conduit up to the commander’s office. It was no joke. Thirty-five years later I was telling a guy I was working with about this setup. He was an ex-Navy Seal. He laughed, then he told me that the timers were all wired to instant destruct. He said they did not believe anyone would deliberately hit the self-destruct button. "So complain after the fact - If you can," he said. He had wired a few places like this as a Seal.
Top Secret-Crypto Spy Books
Some times during the long hours of Third shift, I would sit and read the “Special” books with all the faces blacked out on the pictures. This allowed me to put a picture in my mind to go along with the work we were doing, so that when I found something, I had a clear picture of what it looked like. This worked very well, later on when I was back stateside. We had to take MOS proficiency test. The second highest score in our Battalion was by our platoon Sargent. He scored about 76 on the test. I got 123 on the test and could even draw them a picture of the equipment. Because of this and my ears, I was offered $10,500 (The maximum in 1965) reenlistment bonus for 4 more years. I told them that I would rather go back to New York State and live on welfare because the monthly pay was higher. The First Shirt took my discharge paper into the CO’s office, came out and handed them to me and said, “GO.” I saluted, turned around and never looked back. As soon as I was out of the main gate I stripped off my uniform while driving. FREEDOM AT LAST.
F*** The Mission, Clean The Position!
It was a very busy night on Third shift. We were all in Room One and had just started the recorders, capturing about four minutes of intercept. Some four hot signals coming in when suddenly the darkness of the room was boldly interrupted as the door swung open, and the overhead white lights were suddenly blinding us. (Normal operating mode was with small red overhead lights so we could see and read all the CRT tubes at each operator’s position.) This Yeni Master Sergeant barked, "I want every swinging dick out in the hall immediately for a GI party!" We all just sat their stunned. "That’s an ORDER," he shouted. The guy at one of the positions down from me pushed his intercom button and says, "F**K THE MISSION AND CLEAN THE POSITION." All intercom voice is permanently recorded on the tapes along with the time and date code. Then MC hit the stop button on the big recorders and threw his headset to the chair and said, "Lets Go." We all followed him out of Room One. (Prime Mission of the entire base terminated for mop buckets.) We made the place shine and sparkle. It took the rest of the night. The next day the tape was sent to Ft Mead, NSA Headquarters. Did the sh*t ever hit the fan! We never saw that Sergeant again. No one outside of our assigned group ever dared to open those doors into Room One again.
My Trips to ‘Friseurs Body Shop!’, (Medical Dispensary)
From “Collision, and Heat Stroke” to the “Big Daddy of the Turkey Trots.”
The base dispensery's nickname when I arrived was Friseurs Body Shop - named after a previous doctor who served his internship on the hill. One of the medics had to show him how to read an X-Ray. Fortunately he left before I arrived.
My first trip to the dispensary occurred right after a Second Shift. It had just begun to rain as we left OPS on our way to the Mess Hall. Several of the equipment repair guys were ahead of me on the road. We all started to run to keep from getting soaked. The repair guys remarked that the operators could never pass them running. Ha! I shot past most of them and was about to pass the leader on his right side. Just as I was passing him he gave me a shoulder block knocking me into one of those concrete road guard posts. It felt like my leg from just above the knee on down stayed on the concrete post as I flew head first into a ravine. I did a perfect one point landing with my face. The impact shattered my eye glasses and drove mud and rocks into my eyes and mouth. I laid there, unable to move, with incredible pain to the right leg. Several guys shouted down to me as I lay in the mud and driving rain asking if I was OK. I spit out the stones and mud and mumbled, "NO."
I could not see, and must have looked terrible. When they got down to me and scraped the mass of mud off of my face they said I was covered with blood. They formed a human chain and carried me to the top of the ravine and road. Just then an MP jeep came down the road and they flagged him down. The jeep rushed me to the dispensary on the other side of the base. After quite some time banging on the dispensary door they woke up the medic on duty, and he let us in. The medic sent the MP to find the Base Doctor. Meanwhile the medic started to work on me cleaning off the mud and assessing my injuries. He washed my face and eyes. The majority of the bleeding was coming from a large cut in my eyebrow area. He put a butterfly bandage to close the cut. Then he washed my eyes out and checked for damage. There was no damage to my eyes and I could now see again. The MP returned. It was Saturday night and he found the doctor passed out at the “Doom Club”. The medic asked the MP to assist him and they x-rayed my leg. No bones were broken but I had a massive bruise to my lower thigh. The medic put an ice pack on it and gave me something to dull the pain. Late the next morning the doctor came in to see me. He apologized for not being there to help me. He examined me and said the medic did a great job on me. He said they would start therapy that afternoon and I could return to duty the next day. Great news I thought.
About 5 PM they put me in the whirlpool bath tank to help reduce the swelling. They turned it on and it started to heat up. It got hotter and hotter and hotter. A short time later I got this real strange feeling. I took a deep breath and yelled, ”MEDIC!”, and passed out. Everything went black but I could still hear. The medic ran in and caught me just before my head sank below the water. He screamed as he put his arms into the hot water and called for more help. They dragged my limp body out of the tank and put me somewhere. I could only hear what was going on. They poured cold water all over me as the doctor rushed in. My vision slowly returned and I could speak again. After another examination and a head X-Ray they could find nothing seriously wrong. The doctor thought that I might have had a head injury from the fall that may have cause some brain swelling. They decided to keep me there a few more days for observation. The next day another GI came in for treatment for an ankle injury while playing basketball earlier that week. It was his second or third treatment in the whirlpool bath. He too started to feel strange and got himself out before collapsing on the floor. I yelled for the medic. We had a second victim of the tank. They put a thermometer in the tank and turned it back on. It rose to 212F. The thermostat was broken. I suggested that they put in some carrots, potatoes and onions the next time they put some one into the tank to cook. They had given us both a heatstroke! They ended up keeping me in the “body shop” for a week.
The second time I went to the dispensary, I was able to go under my own power. During Third shift, the cramps started. They were severe and would double me up. I got the cold sweats. It was around 4:30 AM and sick call did not start until 7:00. My trick chief sent me out about 5:00 AM and I laid on my bunk in agony until sick call. I had gotten my first case of Amoebic Dysentery, aka-the “Turkey Trots”. They put me in a bed in the dispensary. I was moaning and groaning from the cramps as I fell asleep (I was on third shift.) I woke up around 5:00 PM while they were serving dinner. Everyone seemed a bit irritable around me. It turned out to be a day later. I had been out of it for about 32 hours straight. I had kept all the other patients awake all night moaning, screaming, and talking in my sleep, as I thrashed around making considerable noise. I felt terrible but the cramps were gone. I had some broth that night and normal breakfast the next morning. They had just served me lunch when medics came crashing thru the double doors carrying someone on a litter. They were at a full run. They came to a sudden stop at the foot of a bed, flinging a new patient headfirst into the bed. It seemed to be a coordinated motion as he appeared to hover in the air while they pulled the sheets down and stripped his pants and shirt off. One of the medics was doing CPR on him as they did this. Another medic picked the foot of the bed off the floor and shoved a chair under it. They did not have time to crank up the foot of the bed. The doctor came running into the room carrying a great big syringe of adrenalin. The doctor immediately plunged the needle through his chest and into his heart. The patent awoke, and started to throw up blood. They had just brought him back from the dead. My lunch was spaghetti in tomato sauce.
Evidently, the GI had an extreme allergic reaction to a penicillin pill he had taken, and had collapsed in his room in Washington Hall. A roommate decided to go to the room before he went to the chow hall, and just happened to stumble upon him before he passed out. The GI told him that he had just taken the penicillin before going into the room to lie down. That message saved his life. The doctor knew what had caused the problem and gave the right antidote. I gave that doctor and the medics an A++++ that day.
“Spy? Intruder” Grabs Something out of the Burn Bag in Room One and Runs.
Once again Third Shift is where the action is. It was a dark and stormy night. (I added the “stormy” for dramatics as I really do not remember the weather that night). All was quiet. It was around 4:00 AM. Three of us were sitting around in Room One talking, when all of a sudden we heard a strange noise coming from the Clasified Material burn bag. All by itself the burn bag started to move around by itself. You could hear the rustling of the papers inside as if someone was searching thrugh them for something special. Before we could get up the bag suddenly tipped over and the creature inside ran out of the bag with something white in its mouth and ran behind the equipment racks. We charged after it from each end but it dove into one of the cable trays that ran through the building like minature tunnels. Desperatly we started to rip the metal covers off the cable tunnels to catch or stop the creature. I darted to the end of the room where the cable trays exited to the antenna field. As I removed the cover, a feral cat ran past me and through the wall opening. It had nothing in it’s mouth as it ran past me. It had dropped it somewhere in the maze of cable trays while we were chasing it. We carefully searched the trays, removing each cover. We were all hot and sweating by now. Finally we found it. The object that the “Trained spy cat" had snatched out of the burn bag turned out to be half of a 3:00 AM sandwich that someone dumped into the burn bag. We laughed, maybe it was one of those “Mouswiches!”
The Sinop Knife and Gun Shop, Run by Don
One of my favorite pastimes was to go into town and watch Don, the blacksmith and his dad, make custom knives from truck leaf springs. They also restored old cap and ball pistols. I bought a 36 calibre Colt Navy, Address Colt, London, while there. I also had a custom knife made by Don. Great knife.
Turkish Beach, Clams, and Sunburn
A Turkish friend invited us down to the Turkish beach for swimming. We stopped for the usual refreshments, a liter of wine each. We had just gotten off Third Shift and were trying to flop our time schedule over. It was going to be a fresh clambake. When it was time to get the clams, our Turkish friend showed us where to find them. At low tide you broke them off the rocks. They had black shells. I used to call them barnacles. The type you scrape off of ship hulls. We baked them on an old metal sign we found over a fire. Well at least we did not die from them. After half a liter of wine they weren’t too bad, choke, choke. The sun and the wine were a bad combination. We all fell asleep. I woke up after an hour or so and rolled over on my stomach and tried to crawl over to the shade of the cliffs. I passed out before I made it. When I woke up I had medium-bad sunburn on both sides. The other guys had second degree sunburn on one side. They were very nasty burns. The uniforms were usually starched so stiff they would stand by them selves. I had to wash mine twice to remove the starch so that I could put it on without wanting to die. It was a very long week of healing.
Mess Hall Pizza
Every now and then the mess hall, with German and Turkish cooks, would make an attempt to make pizza. They would use regular bread dough, which ended up about 1 inch or more thick. They would top that with canned stewed tomatoes, American cheese, and sliced hot dogs. Then they would serve it as Pizza. Not even close. The canned milk was usually lumpy, the barrel of orange juice was so watered down you could see the bottom. The eggs were so old they held their shape for a full minute before sort of spreading out on the grill. Most of us survived on burgers and fries at the EM club. No one gained weight.
Bob Hope, USO Show in Turkey
The biggest highlight of the entire tour was going to see the "Bob Hope Show" when it visited Turkey. My trick was on days when the show was scheduled. Our trick chief worked up a schedule where we had only a small crew in OPS. We would all take 15-minute turns in ops, every hour. That way we would each get to see some of the show. They were late getting to the hill. They arrived and started to set up just as my shift started in OPS and 45 minutes went by before any relief arrived. They said it was all over. It lasted only 15 minutes long. Two female singers, and some small-name comedian gave the show. The official records had showed we had only about 20 or so radar technicians. So they sent three of their entertainers to Sinop. We had 400+ on base at the time.
They apologized for Bob, saying that if he had known we had so many people that he would have brought the whole show. Because of security, they could not even tell him when they got back. So I had missed the big event of the year, just my luck. When I got off duty I went to the EM club and put my dollar down on the bar. (When you put a dollar on the bar you got all you can drink for the night). Got drunk, and went to the flick.
President Kennedy’s Been Shot!
I was sitting in the TUSLOG Det 4 post theatre at the midnight flicks, watching Judy Canova in Carolina Cannonball. I was on Trick Four which was on duty Third Shift but was given the night off as Third Shift in rooms one & two were usually dead and over staffed. I ran all the way to Operations and checked in. The UPI and API News teletypes were screaming out reams of paper and the 4 copies were being split and hung on the hall walls so we could read them. It was wild: Conflicting reports, uncensored, and sometimes wrong. All the other teletypes were running while most were usually silent on Third Shift - Extremely unusual.
I took my position in rooms one and two, and went to work (Censored). We were given the orders to destroy all non-essential classified material. We took turns manning the burn barrels, working a position and laying on our backs in the antenna field watching for possible glow of incoming missile warheads. That meteorite scared me half to death. I spent the night half scared to death. Traffic patterns indicated major radio action taking place on the other side. Darn, I guess they were as scared as we were. Safety pins were removed from our equipment's self-destruct thermite racks. Equipment rack mounting screws were removed and Fire axes were remove from the walls to be at hand just in case. We spent one hell of a night in operations. I had seen the hundreds of blocks of explosives under our building and knew we had self destruct capabilities if attacked. At least we did not have to worry about being taken prisoner.
Dawn came with first shift coming in to relieve us. (Some of them had been there just hours earlier.) When I finished eating and went back to Jackson Hall, I found out everyone was in full gear ready to move out or fight and just as exhausted as we were. Not a smile or a joke was to be found. It was more than a week before things returned to normal.
Black Sea Boat Trip: Near Drowning: Click Photos to Enlarge
It all started as a standard trip to town. While looking for someone to partner (Buddy System) to go to town I was asked if I would like to go on a boat ride out on the Black Sea. I knew one or two of the guys but not the others. (Forgot all names.) On the way to the docks we stopped for some supplies. (Many bottles of liquid in case we got thirsty... wine etc.) The trip was fairly boring and uneventful. It got to be more fun, the more we drank. About a dozen porpoises were swimming on our bow wake for a while until some jerk hit one with an empty bottle.
Then some Genius got the idea to go around the point where there always were high winds and white cap waves between the tip of the point and a jagged rock covered island. I think of the passage in "Homers Odyssey", the Greek Classic, where the Sirens - Naked women - sang and lured passing sailors to their death on the rocks. Homer has his men tie him to the mast so he can hear them and has his men put bees’ wax in their ears to protect them. I should have seen the Bad Omen. Going into the wind we made the narrow passage fairly well, enjoying the salt spray of the waves breaking over the bow. One of the guys in a white shirt had passed out on the deck. We turned the boat around and made a wild, full speed run with the wind at our backs thru the "Gates of Hell". The Turkish Captain was quite scared to do this but we bribed him with more Lira. This was fun, like a thrill ride. All of a sudden as we went through the narrows and the guy we thought was passed out, gets up and jumps overboard! OH MY GOD!!... And disappears below the cold black waters. Gone!
OK, Time to PANIC!!
Instantly we all turned cold sober. In the raging seas we made a quick U-turn in only about a quarter mile. As we headed back into the gauntlet, several of us stood on top of the cabin, trying not to get thrown into the water as the boat pitched and bobbed. There was no sign of him anywhere. Just as we were about to turn around for another pass, someone spotted his white shirt about 10 feet below the surface. Several guys jumped into the icy water and brought him up from the depths. After several minutes we managed to drag everyone back aboard the boat with out running them over. It would have been a bad time for a keel haul with a propeller.
He was deader than a doornail by now, but after 5-10 minutes of CPR he barfed and started breathing again. The Sirens of Homer's Odyssey were cheated of another sailor this day. The Captain was terrified by the incident. Turkish law would have held him responsible if any passengers had died. We sat on the drunk GI until we got back to the docks to make sure we did not have a repeat performance.
We all decided to keep this trip a secret because we did not want to get the Captain in trouble or have our water sports terminated by the brass. I believe this was the only picture taken after the rescue.
Big Red, the MP from Hell
Near the end of my tour on the hill we got a new MP. His nickname was Big Red. He had red hair, was about 6’6", 270 lbs. He was mean, and hated Turks. He let them know every chance he got. He liked to fight and hurt people. In the mess hall he would call the Turk KPs over to his table and then dump food and milk on the floor and tell them to clean it up. Most people would go out of their way to avoid him. On my last night on post before I was to ship out, I went to the EM club. While they were drinking I decided to get some food. They made great French Fries at the club. I got in the line with one of those fiberglass trays in my hands. Big Red was in the line just in front of me. A couple of guys behind me were horsing around and one of them bumped into me from behind. This had a domino effect on me and I bumped into Big Red. Big Red swung around as hard as he could with his fist. It seemed like I might get to stay on the hill a bit longer than I was planning... and in the dispensary! I instantly activated my survival instincts and rotated the fiberglass tray between me, and the “fist of death”. Bracing myself for the coming impact. His fist hit the tray square in the center. It bowed under the impact and the force knocked me backward into about five people. The tray was split clean in half. Taking advantage of his surprised look I said, “Very good,” like it was some sort of weird contest. This confused him for a moment. I handed the pieces to the guy behind me and said “I’ll be right back,” and left the EM Club.
I went back to my room, picked up my already packed Duffel bag and went over to the CQ office and spent the rest of the night there waiting for the truck to take me to Samsun in the morning. I never said goodbye to anyone on the hill. I hope Big Red is still waiting for me in the ruins of the EM Club, Hee, Hee. I’m going home.
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