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ANKARA & Eskisehir TURKEY
March 1948-March 1950

LtCol Eldon Sanders, USAF (Ret.)

2003-2011 by Author

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I served as a Master Sergeant with the 37th Air Force Base Unit (TUSAFG), the Air Force component of the Joint Military Mission for Aid to Turkey (JAMMAT). My permanent duty station was in Ankara, but my duty on Monday thru Friday was at the Turkish Air Force Hospital in Eskisehir where, as a part of the aid mission, we had set up a training program for Turkish Flight Surgeons and at the TAF military installation, we had installed a six-man altitude training chamber for indoctrinating air crews in high altitude physiology.

Generally, the aid mission took an officer and one or two enlisted personnel to instruct in specific fields, such as aircraft armament, air communications, control tower operations, supply, aircraft maintenance, and a whole gamut of other functions.

While my duty was primarily in an administrative capacity, I did help to train some of the Turkish non-commissioned officers in audiometry (hearing tests), dental assistants, altitude chamber operation and maintenance and did some installation of medical equipment furnished under the aid program.

    Our initial party consisted of the following individuals:

  • General Earl S. Hoag(deceased) and his wife
  • Lt Colonel Ralph Switzer, USAF MC (deceased)
  • Major Charles Hostler, USAF
  • Major Delores Christy, USAF (WAF)
  • M/Sgt William Mandros
  • M/Sgt Gustav Rathgeber
  • M/Sgt Eldon L.Sanders
  • T/Sgt William F. Bent
  • T/Sgt James R. Britten (deceased)
  • T/Sgt Vincent Steele
  • S/Sgt William B. Behnen

The advanced Air Force party, consisted of Colonel Edward D. Marshall, the Deputy Chief of the Air Force Group and a M/Sgt whose name I do not recall who was assigned to the consolidate Finance Office of JAMMAT. General Hoag was the commanding general of TUSAFG (The United States Air Force Group). We arrived in Ankara (Etimesgut Air Field) on the 13th of March 1948. I have indicated those whom I know to be deceased. I'm sure there are others who are deceased, but I do not know which. After returning to the U.S., I was commissioned from enlisted and retired in 1970. I enjoyed my time in Turkey, but the lack of decent sanitation and housing in Eskisehir for my family made it a rather trying tour for my wife with two small children. I still have some contacts in Turkey through ICQ and enjoy chatting with the "younger set".

I am now 76 years old and have been out of Turkey for 48 years, so my command of the language has deteriorated.

By the way, I have nothing to prove it, but I seem to recall that we got APO privileges (APO 206A) in about July of 1948. Now whether that was a formal establishment or an informal arrangement with 206 in Athens, I can't say. I do recall that I had to use the international banking system to transfer money to my wife in Houston and had to go through the Turkish authorities to prove that I didn't get the money off of the black market.

Shortly after she and the children arrived, we were able to use the APO to send deposits to the bank. We had no commissary for almost a year, but did have enough organizational aircraft flights to Weisbaden and Frankfurt to bring in some staples for a small commissary operation. Prior to that little operation, we generally had to buy huge orders of staples from Boston or New York and have sea shipment with the products being tied up in Turkish customs for several weeks.

My son became old enough to start school while in Turkey. Since there were no schools, either American or Turkish, that we could put him, we purchased a home instruction course from the Calvert School in Baltimore and my wife instructed him at home for a period of time. Finding that others living the nearby area of Ankara who were in the same boat, we found an American who had married a Turkish officer when they met at the University of Illinois and hired her to teach our children. Initially, five students met at my house five days a week and were instructed by this lady. Each family having a child paid $19.00 per month and the teacher was furnished two meals per day by my wife. The meals were a bit of an after-thought and was more-or-less a social event for my wife who spent the five days a week alone with the two children.

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