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ARRIVING IN KARAMURSEL, TURKEY - SPRING 1963

John Le Moine

© 2003-2014 by Author

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Getting to "Mainsite"
(Karamursel Air Station)

After 14 weeks of radio school at Bainbridge NTC, Maryland, approximately 12 of us went to New York to board a Pan Am flight to Istanbul Turkey.  One of the first things you remember about arriving in Turkey is the smell.  At the time you aren't aware what it's from, but soon discover the Turkish cigarettes.  Yeni Harman (New Harvest) & Bafra brands.  No wonder they always asked for American cigarettes (Salem was the favorite).  A Turkish interpreter was assigned to help us get to our base.  He said that he would put us into cabs and send us to the ferry landing (we hadn't a clue).  We were to pay the cabbie 20 Lira (aprox $2) - no more.  He said that the driver would try to get more from us.  "20 Lira, No More!" he said.  When we got to the landing the cab driver wanted 40 Lira.  After considerable arguing, he convinced us that the extra charge was for the luggage.  This was the beginning of our education in Turkish negotiating.

After what seemed like several hours we arrived in Yalova.  We had expected that the Navy would have someone there to meet us with a van or bus or something.  There was no one.  We saw people boarding several buses.  Carrying our luggage slowed us down and both of the buses were leaving as we neared the bus stop.  There were lots of taxis available and they seemed to be in cahoots with the bus company people.  They all wanted to take us to Mainsite (I had never heard of Mainsite).

We thought it was up to the Navy to see that we got to the base.  I asked to use the phone to call the Shore Patrol.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  I wanted to call the U. S. Navy.  I'm not sure that they wanted to understand.  Finally when they were convinced that we would insist on calling "Mainsite", they found another bus to take us.

The driver drove so fast, I thought that he was pissed because he was forced to take us (I later realized that this was normal driving).  The bus actually fishtailed around the curves and when he came to a curve he would turn off the lights to see if he could see another light around the curve!  Finally I saw a lot of lights coming up in the distance.  Thank God this must be "Mainsite".  We flew by at 60-70 mph.  Later I found out that this was site 5.

Now I thought we just went past Mainsite and they were taking us out to the sticks to kill us.  I kid you not when I say we were praying because we thought we were going to die.  When we pulled through those gates with the American Flag flying we were relieved to be "HOME".  Twenty minutes after arriving on KARAMURSEL Air Station at approximately 2300 hours, we were having a delicious breakfast of cheese omlettes, sausages, fruit, and coffee called "Midrats".




KENNEDY ASSASSINATED!

I was lying in bed reading in the Navy barracks at Karmursel Air Base.  Ned Creasy (Illinois) and Lou Wines (Maryland) were playing cribbage.  All of a sudden the door burst open and John Finn (New York) came in and said, "The President and Vice President were just shot in Dallas, Texas."  I sat bolt upright and said, "That's not funny, John."  I saw in his eyes that he wasn't joking.  "They've got Voice of America on down at the Master-at-Arms office."  All personnel who were on the "Access List" for the Comm Center got into uniform and went up to operations while the rest of us crowded around the VOA radio.  Things were pretty sober for awhile.  We were a bit relieved when we found out that the Vice President was OK.




PEDERSON IN ISTANBUL

Bob Pederson (Mpls) USMC Cpl was on liberty in Istanbul when he heard the bad news.  Not sure whether or not he was needed at the base, he tried to call the base.  For an hour the lines were all tied up.  In frustration he identified himself as Lt. Pederson, Executive officer of Marine Company F, and needed a line immediately for official business.  When he got hold of the sergeant in charge, he was told that they didn't know what was happening, but to return ASAP.  Pederson took a cab "around the horn" some 70 miles.  Usually when you pay with American dollars you always get a discount.  When Pederson tried to pay in American money, the cabbie said, "Amerika-tamam" (America finished), "Turk para" (Turkish money).  Someone had to come to the gate to pay the bill.




TURKISH ATTITUDE

A couple of days later I was at the shop across from the base.  I noticed a picture of President Kennedy on the front page of a newspaper with a small pic of Oswald in the corner of the page.  The clerk pointed to Kennedy and said "Çok fena" (very unpleasant), and then pointed at Oswald and said "Yok Amerikan - Rusyali!" (not American - Russian).  In 63-64, we had no TV so we never saw all of that footage of the assassination until we came back to "the land of the round door knobs."




JOHN LE MOINE'S SAILBOAT AND SUBMARINE STORIES...

At lunch in the chow hall on my first full day in Turkey, I talked to a seaman who said he'd been there a year.  "What do you do for entertainment?" I asked.  "This place really sucks, but there is a nice beach."  He said, "There is swimming, water skiing, motorboats, and sailing."

"Sailing?  I have always wanted to learn how to sail."  "How much to rent a sailboat?" I asked.  "It's free, but you have to take a class and get a certificate before you can use one."  I signed up that afternoon for sailing class down at the boat house.  Within a week , I was sailing on salt water.  Available for our use were three "Snipes" and two "Sharpies", all of them wooden and in excellent condition.  I never was unable to get a boat to use when I wanted one.  One of the first things I learned about the military was to learn the system and then use the system.  Don't fight it.  Figure it out.  The sailing class was the beginning of a lifelong hobby of sailing.  To this day, I still sail most of the weekends in the summer in Minnesota.

The second spring at KAS, five of us bought a 20-foot wooden Sloop from some Marines who were rotating back to the States.  We gave her a new paint job and changed her name from "BEER BARGE" to "MISS BEHAVIOR".




PICTURES FROM TURKEY
(Click on them to enlarge)

Sailboat "Miss Behavior" purchased from some marines by five Det. 28 sailors for $20 each (what a steal).  Then we sold it about a year later.

 

3 of the 5 owners of the 20-foot Miss Behavior.  L-R:  Charles Maxfield, CT3(R); John Le Moine CT32(R); Louis C. Wines CTSN(A) of Maryland - sometimes referred to as Louie "Seaman with a hashmark" Wines.

 

L-R:  Wayne, an Air Policeman E-3, and Louis C. Wines, CTSN, Maryland.

 

Leaning left is Ed Borrow CT3 (New Jersey?), and to the right is Rod Holt, CT3 (Texas).




Left, the late Bill Heidelberger, CT3(R) from Queens, New York, visiting with local Turkish pal in 1964.

 

CT3(R)Ned Creasey, Illinois (left) and John Le Moine CT3(R) Minnesota, reloading shotgun shells at Lake Sapanca with a local Turkish friend at right, 1964.

 

John Lemoine, shaving at Lake Capanca.  (Notice the Rod & Gun Club weapons carrier that we were able to use most any time.)

 

Standing next to the Rod and Gun Club jeep in front of the Seaside Club.




Visiting with local Turkish People.

 

Riding water buffalo, Lake Sapanca.

 

Aboard the "Captain's Gig" at KAS.  Rumor was that it cost $150 in aviation gas for the "old Man" to take it to Istanbul.  The price of a ferryboat ticket for "subay" (an officer) was aprox 37 cents American.

 

When President Kennedy was killed, they flew the flags in front of the admin. building at half staff.

 

Typical room - home for 4 guys in Det 28, and notice the can of Brasso on the lower shelf on the right for belt buckle polishing.




Young Turkish students in Yalova playing leapfrog.

Le Moine on the wall around the city of Iznik.  Great day trip to the biblical city of Nicea.

Everyone remembers "burn detail".  Burning bagsful of classified documents every day.  The rumor wasn't true that we put used toilet paper into the burn bags.  Pic is John Le Moine after burn detail.

One of the few inspections Det. 28 had.  Since we were so dressed up, we decided to take photos.  L-R:  CTSN(R) Ron Swanson ("Bad Ax", MI); CTSN(1) Robert E. Fink (Greensboro, NC); CTSN(R) John LeMoine (St. Paul, MN).

Yalova-Istanbul ferry at Yalova Dock.




Istanbul to Yalova ferry at Fenerbahçe.

 

My Hunting License.




TOO MUCH WIND

One blustery day the five owners of "MISS BEHAVIOR" decided that despite the small-craft warnings that were posted, we'd attempt to sail in it.  There were at least 6-8 foot waves as we left the dock.  When we got outside the seawall observers said they could only see the top part of the mast and sails when we were in the trough of the wave.  It scared the hell out of us when the guy wires holding up the mast pulled out of the side of the boat.  The mast came down with a terrible crash!

As we drifted helplessly toward the rocks of the seawall, we talked about making a jump for the rocks on impact.  All of a sudden Holt (R-brancher from Texas), who stood about 6'3", grabbed a handful of sail and stood on a seat with his arms spread.  Using Holt as our sail we had enough steerage to manuver back into the Marina.  There was a crowd cheering as we entered the opening in the seawall.




SHARKS

One time three of us, Lou Wines (Maryland), Maxfield (Mass.) and I were sailing "MISS BEHAVIOR".  We we were moving along on a beam reach when all of a sudden we were surrounded by what we thought were sharks.  As we sailed along they were everywhere, jumping and swimming along with us.  They would zip from side to side, in and out of the water.  Some one said, "If they hit the centerboard at the speed at which they are traveling, they'll tear the bottom of the boat out."  We were scared.  We came about and made a B-line for the marina.  We thought we were lucky to escape with our lives.

The Boatswain's Mate (Navy guy in charge of the Skippers Launch) said, "Boy, you guys were sure lucky to be sailing among those dolphins."  I don't think were able to cover our fear, because he said, "They'll never touch the boat."  They were just playing with us.  We looked and looked for these dolphins, never saw them again.




SUBMARINE ALERT

It wasn't unusual while sailing, to hear a loud diesel engine sound.  You couldn't tell where it was coming from.  Then all of a sudden, a Turkish submarine would surface.  It was exciting.  One day while sailing near Degermendere, we spotted a submarine with it's crew working out and about the deck.  As we got closer, we could see that the crew was trying to untangle the vessel from fishing nets that they were caught in.

We sailed within 1/4 mile of the distressed vessel and with a signal mirror started having a little fun with our Turkish friends.  We were all radiomen (of sorts) on the sailboat so we came up with international "Q"signals to signal them:

"Do you copy Transmissions?"

"What seems to be your dilemma?"

"Shall we stand by?"

"May we be of assistance?"

Our signal mirror was flashing the bright sunlight on their conning tower.  There is no way they could not see our signal.  We decided that they were too embarrassed to answer!




SUBMARINE VISIT

We heard that you could buy cigarettes for $1 per carton at the Navy exchange down at Gölcük instead of $1.25 at the AFEX on KAS.  Since we could take a free military bus to the exchange, we decided to go and take a look.  We had just gotten off of the Midwatch and took the bus.  The problem was we get there about 9:00 am and the exchange didn't open 'til 10:30.  We walked around the town and down to the Navy area.  A young Turkish petty officer came by on his bicycle.  We tried to communicate with him and finally asked him if we could go on board his submarine.

He rode off to the Sub.  About 20 minutes later, he came back and indicated on his watch to return here at 11:00.  When he took us on the aubmarine we were treated like visiting officers.  The entire vessel's crew turned out for an inspection.  All in dress uniforms and standing at attention.  We were ashamed to put all of the enlisted personnel to so much trouble.  The officers gave us a tour and invited us to the Officers Quarters for coffee and cakes.  They explained that the submarine had been in World War Two and was known as The USS Quill Back.  It was given to the Turkish Navy after the war.

Oh yeah, the cigarettes:  They were indeed $1 per carton for Salem.  The top selling Eska Gee brand.  They'd fetch $5 per carton on the black market (if you were into that).

Contact John LeMoine