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ON TURKEY

George Morton, USN Ret.

© 2003-2011 by Author

I arrived in Istanbul in November of 1961, via Military Air Transport from Norfolk, VA; Goosebay, Labrador; Morocco; Scotland, and Germany. We landed at Yesilköy Airport (now Ataturk International Airport) and were put up overnight in a hotel and the next day we left via a chartered Turkish flight from Istanbul to Yalova in a twin prop DC-3 or known in the military as a C-47.

There were six of us, myself and another sailor and four U.S. Air Force Airmen. The sailor was a CT2 like myself and he began to tell me all about Turkey. He was returning from leave to the States. He gave me a whole rundown as we waited to leave and while in the air.

As we boarded the aircraft, I noticed one of the Turkish pilots loading two good sized rocks into the baggage compartment and he told me that they were used for extra ballast while in flight.

We took off and began our trip across the Sea of Marmara. The trip took just a little more than 20 minutes and before we knew it, it was time to hook-up the seat belts again and prepare for the landing.

We circled around for a bit and then the pilot buzzed the runway. He gained altitude and then buzzed it again. This time when I looked out of the window, I saw a man shaking his fist at the plane and sheep scattering from one side of the field to the other. My new friend told me the pilot was scattering the sheep so he could land. It would take the sheep-herder an hour or so to collect the sheep.

It seems that Yalova Airport, such as it was, use to be a WWII RAF Spitfire field. It was still there with grass growing through the cracks of the tarmac. One more turn and we landed and taxied across the field to the "terminal", which was nothing more than two large military type tents, one the terminal and the other acting as the Control Tower with only a whip antenna attached to it for communications.

Our baggage was unloaded and an Air Force Van was waiting to take us to Karamusel. As we rode along, my friend told me about what we were seeing along the way and the interesting fact that the base of the road we were riding on was built by the Romans more than 2000 years before.

We finally arrived at Karamusel and the Main Gate and a Turkish soldier boarded and checked all of our papers and we were able to pass and head to our barracks.

A Little Change in Plans

I was to be stationed at Karamusel from November of 1961 to April of 1963; however, I was one of those fellas that didn't care for the place. Too much trouble to go on Liberty to Istanbul, I think it was about 3 hours by ferry and if you drove around about the same length of time.

So, I put in for TAD to the Fleet/Med. I was working in Processing and Reporting. I was well into my job by December and my chit for Sea Duty had crossed the desk of a hard ole buzzard, Commander Burns, I belive he was, and he made an appearance at my desk in P&R one afternoon and said, "Morton, you don't like our station?" I told him it was alright but since coming from NSA and having made 4 TAD trips, which included 3 subs and an LST around Africa, I wished to have more sea time, on carriers.

He looked at me with a stone face and said, "Well, I wouldn't worry about that until around July next year. You have a job to learn and we will be happy to teach you." I said, "Yes Sir," and went back to work. I can't remember the Chief's name, but he chuckled out loud at my run in with Commander Burns.

It was a morning in February of '62 when Commander Burns made another sudden appearance in P&R and he came right over to my desk.

"Morton, you still want to go to sea?" I answered with "Yes Sir, anytime you want to send me." He snapped back, "How about tomorrow morning? Chief, secure him. He has to pick-up his orders and prepare to leave in the morning."

And that is how I had the chance to spend from February to December '62 aboard the Saratoga,CVA-60; Independence, CVA-62; and the Forrestal,CVA-59. It is usually a six month TAD, but for me I was lucky. My relief, another CT2, arrived on board with his team and two days before we were to leave, we got a message that his wife had arrived in Turkey and he must return. Our OIC disclosed to me in private, that his wife was four months pregnant and he had been in Turkey for 7 months. I got to stay while the others went back.

The Turkish Bear

While aboard Karamusel, I spent most of my time in the NCO Club. A lot of that was in the Stag Bar off Mid-watches playing Shuffle Board and having my beer for breakfast. I was now a CT1.

I remember the Turkish Bartender who also acted as the unofficial bouncer. He always felt he could handle trouble long before the AP's would arrive. They called him Bear, as he was as big as one. He had been in the Turkish Army and spent time in Korea in the '50's.

An old friend of mine, CT1 Vern Zall, and I were in there early one day and Bear was cleaning up the place. He had his shirt off and we were amazed at the wounds on his body. There was a combination of knife and bullet wounds. Bear not only looked mean, he was, if he had to be.

I remember another time when CT1 George Robarge and I had set down about 1400 hours, with 40 dollars worth of quarters, at the main bar. We decided we could hit the Jackpot if we spent 20 bucks a piece. Well, we ran through the afternoon but NEVER hit the Jackpot. It was 1600 hours and CT1 Vern Zall came in off the Day Watch and sat down with us. We had run out of quarters and Vern bought a beer and took his change and slipped it into the Slot. BINGO! WHAM! he hit the Jackpot for 80 buckeroos. He bought us beer for an hour or two.

George Morton, USN-RET

Click photos to see enlargements.

KARAMURSEL chapel.


Navy barracks, KARAMURSEL


In the NCO Club. Me, Frank (?), Others (?).


Belly dancer at NCO Club, KARAMURSEL.

Another belly dancer.


One of the Air Force faithul, and a member of the German band.


CR2 Morton and CTO2 Paul Lange at the Base Club in Naples, July 1962.


CR1 G. Morton in the sanitized shack on the Forrestal, November 1962.


An F8U being launched off the Angle deck. Taken from the catwalk (where we weren't supposed to be!)


An F8U Crusader during an in-port stay. Visitors came aboard.


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