INĒİRLİK AIR BASE - ADANA, TURKEY
Short Timer Looking Forward to New Duty Station
FIFTY YEARS LATER
A/2C Charles Sibert
© 2009 by Author
S/Sgt. George Stone
I was up early on December 31st, 1959. It was New Years Eve and after breakfast, I had been scheduled to work my 24-hour shift at Transient Alert. Some of the fellows wanted to welcome in the New Year at the Airmen's Club that night and I told them we'd have to do it the next day because I had to work. Work always seems to get in the way of play, right? Staff Sergeant Stone and I relieved the guys on duty at Alert and they headed to the chow hall after briefing us on the day's activities. S/Sgt. Stone and I were going to bring in the New Year together on the last day of 1959 by spending it on duty.
Base Ops called down and told us there wasn't much to do and they also said, "You guys have a happy New Years Eve...somebody's gotta do it!" And I said, "I'm glad you guys are up there too!"
There were no planes to be sent out, so all we could do was to wait for arrivals, or look forward to midnight chow! 1959 was coming to a close and all we could do was bid her 'so long' from our Alert office on the ground floor of Base Ops. We did make ourselves hot cups of coffee - made in our Taiwanese coffee pot, a very hot item to have in 1959. Tomorrow would be the first day of 1960 and by 10 days into it I could be away from İncirlik Air Base.
We made it through that long day, and with no planes coming in or going out, S/Sgt. Stone and I drove one of our follow me trucks to the mess hall for the anticipated midnight chow. The NCOIC, T/Sgt. Crooks, allowed some flexibility for midnight chow when there was nothing stirring. The chow hall opened at 2230 hours (10:30 p.m.) and, of course, we ate and returned pronto. I took off my brogans - only flight-status airmen were allowed to wear jump boots) and decided to sleep away a few minutes before midnight and 'happy new year' time.
S/Sgt. Stone just read a book while I 'caught some Zs' on the third bunk. At quarter to midnight, Stone woke me and said, "Get your shoes on!" He had an idea to blow the horns on our follow me trucks at one minute after midnight to celebrate the year 1960 arriving. We were ready at the horn buttons of our trucks, and when our watches were at a minute past midnight we sounded off the horns for at least two or three minutes. We were typical young bucks, loudly hollering "Happy New Year!" to all who might be nearby. We didn't get off duty until 0800 hours (8:00 a.m.) when our relief crew came in. They had celebrated the new year well: their eyes were red!
I took off for the mess hall for breakfast and don't know where S/Sgt. Stone went. I think he went to his room in the NCO barracks but as we parted, I said to him, "I hope the year 1960 will be a good one for you!"
After breakfast, I returned to my bay and took a shower, shaved and tended to the packing. I had things in somewhat of a mess in my lockers but I was gaining ground and would have my personal foot locker ready to go to Air Freight Monday, January 4th, 1960. The next few days I packed and cleaned up my things. I worked Sunday, January 3rd and after work the next morning I had already asked T/Sgt. Crooks for a ride to my barracks to get my footlocker and take it to Air Freight.
One of the airmen coming on duty drove me to my barracks. As we pulled up, some of the guys joked that we were going to park some plane in front of the barracks since they never saw a follow me truck in the barracks area and passing by the base theatre. I made fast work of getting my footlocker into the truck and we were off to the flight line and the Air Freight building. The driver dropped me and my footlocker off, I thanked him for his help and back to work he went.
Dropping the footlocker off, the airman on duty took two copies of my orders and made out the application for transportation of household goods. I signed the form and he gave me the copies I needed plus copies of requisition and shipping document form AF-104P.3. This form stated I had shipped one footlocker, 75 pounds in weight, or 4 cubes, to be sent to the transportation officer, APO 84, U.S. Forces AMD ADA-DRE-4K-5599-AF-01. I left, thanking the airman and wishing him a happy New Year.
I walked back to my barracks stopping only to visit with Pop at the shoeshine stand, a man whom I really cared about. He told me one day, years ago, he had spent a number of years in prison for murder. His health had suffered for it. It seems a wife of his was seeing another man and he took her out for doing this to him. He just said some twenty years of his life was lost because of his action. He lived in the village of İncirlik, walking back and forth each day to shine shoes on the snack bar patio. After my visit and some ice cream with him, I walked back to my barracks to get some more things packed. I hated to leave Pop, for he seemed so sad at times. I always made him laugh and feel that we needed him to shine shoes.
More things packed and lowquarters spitshined. I was working to get organized toward the day I'd get on a plane and leave Turkey. I had skipped lunch so I stopped what I was doing and headed to the mess hall to fill up. I was somewhat saddened that soon I would be at another air base and leave all my friends behind. The call to see another part of the world was very strong and I would make new friends. Maybe in France would have women servers. "What a good thought!" I said, aloud, to myself.
The woman situation at İncirlik Air Base was poor. There were just none for single airmen. You could go on leave to Beirut or Athens unless you wanted to take your chances at what we called the "pound" in Adana. Many were glad the tour of duty was reduced from two years to 18 months. Many of the guys could hardly wait for the new issue of Playboy to be sent to them by friends in the states.
After a good night's sleep and breakfast, I began my outgoing base clearance on Tuesday, January 5, 1960. I started with the morning Report Clerk and finished at the Personnel NCOIC, turning the completed form over to the Records Clerk before 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.) that day. USAFE Form 78 Debriefing Certificate was attached and completed. I knew I'd have to go back to work the next day, so I took a late nap on my bunk. I looked up some things about France in the base library and I told the young Turkish girl who worked there that I was leaving the base. She was always careful to be professional around airmen as she wanted to remain in her job on the base. I heard many tried to seek a date with her, but they were just blowing in the wind.
Got up, got breakfast and relieve the crew on duty at Transient Alert at 0800 hours (8:00 a.m.). Another 24-hour shift. I hoped we would have some aircraft to make the time pass faster. What would take place on Wednesday, January 6, 1960? Wouldn't I be getting some word soon on how I was to get to France? T/Sgt. Crooks had to be away a few hours on personal business, the crew told us. He was late returning. Was it another crash landing with his Lambretta Scooter? We began to wonder. But hours later, here he came, looking just like nothing had happened. He took his seat at the Alert Desk, then asked about the schedule for the day. He knew I was a short-timer and didn't want to overwork me, he said with a laugh. Would I find another like him at Dreux?
We had a few planes come and go on Wednesday the sixth of January. Nothing really special, just routine work with them. We did our normal duty and then on Thursday, January 7, 1960 at 0800 hours we were relieved by another crew. We took off for the mess hall for breakfast and then walked back to the barracks. Our shoe shine man, Pop, was just setting up his spot on the snack bar patio. We waived and said hello to him on our way past. Back at my bay I started to get some more belongings together for my journey. I was called to the Orderly Room to pick up my itinerary for my trip. The transportation officer had sent me a packet of information.
I would leave İncirlik Monday January 11, 1960 by base bus to Sakirpasa Airport in Adana. At 1330 hours I would fly from there by Turkish Airlines to the capital city Ankara's Esenboga Airport and from there on to Yesilkoy Airport in Istanbul. After spending the night at the Istanbul Hilton Hotel, I would fly KLM Dutch Airways from Istanbul to Munich-Riem Airport, Germany the next morning. From Munich KLM would fly me on to Frankfurt Airport Germany. The southern side of this airport, Rhine-Main Air Base was a major airlift base for the United States. Later, I would get a Lufthansa flight to Paris getting in to Orly Airport sometime around 2000 hours (8:00 p.m.) that same day.
I had some other paperwork giving me instructions about where I would spend the night in Paris, how to get from Paris to the city of Dreux, France and nearby Dreux Air Base, and I would find out at the Transient Hotel where I was to spend the night of the 12th. My flights were all booked, and all I needed to do was just show up at the proper ticket counters in my Class A uniform, with my travel orders, and away I would go. When I flew out of Adana's Sakirpasa Airport, I would have all the paperwork I needed for all my flights, with the departure and arrival times listed.
Last day at work, 1960.
I was off duty through January 7th and Friday January 8th, 1960, so my next workday was to be Saturday, January 9th. T/Sgt. Crooks told me not to come to work that day. He said he had redone the work schedule and I had completed my work at Transient Alert. I would not be on the work crew there any more and he thanked me for a great job, well done. He said he would see me off in front of the snack bar on Monday January 11th.
Saturday, the ninth of January came in bright and somewhat cloudy! I was up and having breakfast just "bo jivin'" with some of the airmen and thinking what I had left to do in my bay back at the barracks. When I got there, I looked to see if I had made out correctly the new alottment form for my mother. I located my orders folder and there it was, a copy of AF-337 form filled out Tuesday, December 29, 1959. I had increased the amount I sent to her and it was OK.
So much was going on, I just forgot what I had done up to this point. Also, there in my folder, I found my personnel records checklist and my transmittal of records to APO 84 in Dreux also dated Monday December 28, 1959. I would carry a personnel records folder with me to Dreux Air Base, but some of my records would be sent ahead and I would not need to carry them. These included Field Personnel Records Group's AF Form 75; Airman Performance Report, SF Form 601; and my immunization records. These were sent to Dreux Air Base by the Headquarters, TUSLOG Detachment 10, United States Air Force, APO 289, New York, NY.
I was getting things together, telling myself to remain calm, and after a light supper at the mess hall a bunch of us got together at the Airmen's Club next door for an informal "send off." They wouldn't let me buy a beer for myself! They just kept buying and the beer kept flowing at our table. I wasn't much of a drinker, and after four beers I was full and I thanked all the fellows for thinking of me. After some more rounds, we broke up and headed back to the barracks.
Among the airmen who lived in our barracks, some got along with each other when not drinking. I've just remembered one of them's name: A/2C Jim Tedford, from Mississippi. (go ahead! Click on the picture at left!) There was an airman first class named Tex-something from Texas, and a third guy who would get mad and fight every time they'd had a few beers. Tonight was no exception. On the way back to the barracks, they pounded each other on the Turkish parade ground between the Airmens Club and the Snack Bar. Shirts off, noses bloodied, they embraced and cried aloud all the way back to the barracks. They were promising not to do this again. Their bunks were just a few feet apart in the bay across from mine. We tried to break them up many times but they would fight us. As we walked back to the barracks, some of us were walking as their "rear guard."
So Saturday, the ninth of January at İncirlik, with all my fellow airmen, was enjoyable. I would be leaving on Monday and had to adjust to the fact that I would never be coming back to İncirlik Air Base. I thought to myself that I wouldn't be there when old Pop, our great shoeshine man became too old to shine shoes and passed away. He was a very special person to me.
I had to get some sleep and bid my last Saturday at İncirlik goodbye. I gave my wall locker a look-over and decided I had all prepared for Monday the 11th, the last time I'd have my clothes hanging inside. Lights out. I tried to get some sleep.
Sunday the 10th of January came around fast, but I was ready for the day. Breakfast at 0800 hours, and I thought about going to the chapel but I didn't do it. After breakfast I just took a walk around the base, thinking of how it had looked when I first arrived there. Some things had changed, but not a whole lot. New Barracks and the swimming pool I remembered most. Back to my barracks I went to figure out just what to do the rest of the day. I lazed around for a while then took off for the snack bar. Some of the fellows from my bay were there and we had some cokes and ice cream together.
I was wearing my last set of fatigues. All the others had been shipped to Dreux. And wouldn't you know, I spilled ice cream down the front of my shirt! I cleaned it off as best I could so I could make it through the rest of the day, my last at İncirlik Air Base. A/3C Longboat would be mailing the clothes I was now wearing to my address in France. The brogans on my feet I asked him to give to Pop. I had spoken to Pop about the shoes he was going to get when I left the base, and he had a big smile on his face. No one else in the village of İncirlik would have had two pairs of brogans from the United States. Of that I was sure! Two pairs of brogans would surely hold him for a few years to come as I had also given him a pair last year.
A/3C Gary Longboat at left
Unknown at right..
Before I realized it, the sun was going down on the base and I really was a short-timer now! I would get up early, go to the Airmens Field Ration Dining Hall (the mess hall) in the morning for breakfast. Then I would come back to my bay and shower and shave. I would then pack my fatigues and other clothing for Gary Longboat to mail, get into my dress blues and pack my small suitcase to take with me. I hoped I had not missed anything on my written list.