OFF TO DREUX AIR BASE
New Duty Station
FIFTY YEARS LATER
A/2C Charles Sibert
© 2009 by Author
Just when I was dozing off in my chair at Munich-Riem Airport I heard the boarding call in German, French and English. Our aircraft had been serviced and was ready to continue to France. I was up and in line to board the plane thanks to a less-than-5-minute walk to the boarding ramp and into my seat on the plane. I was thinking that somewhere around one and a half hours later we'd be parked at the terminal at Frankfurt Rhein-Main Flughafen (Flughafen is German for "airport"). I'd be saying goodbye to the flight attendants of KLM and sure would thank them for a great flight. About that time, I was jarred back to the present as we began the take-off roll and left Munich-Riem "Flughafen." Frankfurt, next stop.
We landed at Rhein-Main on its 07/15 9,900 foot main asphalt runway and taxied to our parking spot. Engines were shut down and in only a few minutes I walked the stairs and went to find my next flight with Lufthansa (which, strangely, means "air intake" in German). I would be bound, next, for Paris, France. It was January, 1960 and I couldn't help thinking about the airport here: as we flew toward Rein-Main for our landing, I could still see many bomb craters around the area left over from World War II. Just 15 before, this area had been destroyed by Allied Bombers.
Rhein-Main, an airport and airship base opened in 1936. It was the second largest airport in Germany after Tempelhof in Berlin) through World War II. It had been the main base for the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg airships, but their regular flights had been discontinued after the Hindenburg disaster in New Jersey in 1937. During the war, Rhein-Main was for military use, and after the war it served as the main West German operations base for the U.S. Air Force's contribution to the Berlin Airlift. Since the main runway deteriorated through heavy use, a second runway was constructed during this time.
The German Lufthansa finally recommenced their flights from Frankfurt in 1955 and new terminal building was opened in 1958.
The southern side of the airport, Rhein-Main Air Base was a major airlift base for the U.S. starting in 1947. Because I traveled by civilian aircraft, I didn't see much of the air base, except our USAF aircraft coming and going. I could also see many of our planes parked over there. I didn't have time to check into anything about the Rhein-Main Air Base, though I would have liked to see what was going on there as planes came in from İncirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey.
After an hour or so, I was going to board a Lufthansa Convair 340 for the short flight to Paris. The Convair 340 was used by Lufthansa for their short routes. They used Vickers Viscounts for longer routes and Lockheed Constellations for international flights. The Convair 340 was an upgrade of the Convair 240 and was lengthened to hold an additional four seats. The wings were also enlarged for better performance at higher altitudes. The Convair 340 replaced many Douglas DC-3s that were in service around the world at the time. The U.S. Air Force used this plane for medical evacuation and VIP flights under the designation of "C-131 Samaritan." The CV-240 family number built was somewhere around 1,181 from 1947 to 1956.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CV-240:
|Length: ||74 ft. 8 in.|
|Wingspan: ||91 ft. 9 in.|
|Height: ||26 ft. 11 in.|
|Max. Takeoff Weight: ||42,500 pounds|
|Power Plant: ||2 Pratt Whitney R-2800 "Double Wasp" 18-cylinder air cooled|
radial engines, rated 2,000 horsepower each.
The call came for all passengers to come to the gate and prepare to board the flight for Paris. It seemed like a small plane to me, having only held somewhere around 48 to 50 passengers. The last leg of my journey was about to begin and I was ready to see the sights of Paris. In short order we boarded the plane and taxied out to the runway for takeoff. I must say, we had a beautiful flight attendant onboard and she took wonderful care of me. Just about 30 minutes into the flight, she gave me a beer and some very good cashew nuts. She said in quite good English that we would be landing at Orly Airport in Paris after a little over an hour's flight time.
I didn't even bother taking off my seatbelt during the flight. True to her word, in just an hour we descended for the landing on French soil. The lights of Paris were so bright below me it looked as if we were landing on one of the main city streets. It was dark out, and I was coming into a strange city of some four million to stay the night.
Aeroport de Paris-Orly is only nine miles south of Paris off autoroute A/6A10m. Here I was! In Paris for the first time in my life. We had touched down on Runway 02/20 direction which was 7,874 feet in length. As we taxied toward the terminal building I wondered what happened at this airport during WWII. I found out Orly Airport was opened in 1932 as a second civil airport to LeBourget. During WWII, Orly was used by the German Luftwaffe and was bombed by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force, its runways, buildings and hangars destroyed. Orly was repaired by the USAAF 9th Air Force after the Battle of Normandy in July and August of 1944, and was used as TAC Airfield A-47. Orly was back, used as a civilian airport on January 1, 1948, and the U.S. Air Force leased a portion of the east for Orly Air Base.
I got off the Lufthansa Convair 340 after thanking the crew for a wonderful flight. With my carry-on bag, I went through customs, which wasn't too much of a hassle. They looked at my orders and ID card, passing me on through. I sat down in the waiting room and contemplated my next move. I had come all the way from Istanbul to Paris via Germany and, frankly, I was getting tired. After I had rested for about 45 minutes, I looked at my papers telling me where to spend the night in Paris. Now, all I had to do was find a way to get to the Grand Hotel Littre - a transient hotel for U.S. Service personnel. I decided to take a taxi.
It was the night of January 12, 1960 and Paris was cold. It was snowing and 35 degrees outside. There were two to three inches of snow on the ground as the light snow fell. It must have been around 1900 hours (7:00 p.m.) when I passed through the air terminal doors to hail a taxi from the curb. A taxi driver said, "OK Joe, no English!" I just showed him the hotel address where I wanted to go and he replied by nodding his head "yes." Off we went, speeding along with me in the rear seat of this gangster-looking automobile like the one shown at left.
Out on the highway leading to Paris it only took him a short time to reach the outskirts and soon we were zooming through small and tight streets, scaring me somewhat. I just wanted to reach Dreux Air Base safely and to not be in a fatal auto wreck on the streets of Paris! With tires squealing we slid to a stop in front of the Littre Hotel. The driver got out, bowed, took my American money and off he went, cigarette in his mouth and speeding away.
There, in front of the Grand Hotel Littre, somewhere in Paris, I stood in total bewilderment. Just an Air Force Airman second class from Louisville, surrounded by all the scenery and nostalgia of a city I had only read about in books before. After viewing all the lights around me there in the "City of Light," I walked through the hotel doors and headed for the check-in counter. There, a clerk who spoke English looked over my orders and assigned me a room for the night. He said that in the morning, an Air Force Staff Sergeant would explain to me how to get to Dreux, France by train.
I took my room key and walked the stairs up to my room, which was spacious, with two highly polished brass beds. Just somewhere to spend the night, not to put down roots. I left my suitcase, my hat cover and raincoat on the bed, and had been told there was food in the basement level of the hotel. Sure enough, there was a set of wide steps leading down to a cafeteria type snack bar with a large brass handrail between the steps. They seemed to be made of marble. The U.S. Military leased the Littre Hotel for their traveling Military Personnel.
After I had eaten, I went back to my room and changed into what civilian clothing I had with me. I had only warm weather garments that I put on in layers. A sweater over a long sleeve shirt and a light jacket with dress pants looked ok with my lowquarters. I needed a hat to combat the snowfall outside. I told the clerk at the desk I was going out for a few minutes and he cautioned me not to go too far. He gave me the hotel's business card so I would have the telephone number. Down the street and around the corner to the left, what should appear but a hat shop on a cross street with a four-way stop. I crossed the street and bought a black French beret with my American money. I didn't even speak a word of French.
Snow was still falling as I hailed a Taxi and told the driver I wanted to go to Pig Alley. I had heard that this was the big night spot in Paris. When I said Pig Alley, he laughed and motioned me to get in. Around and around we went in circles but soon I was let out in Pig Alley. I paid with American money and he sped away. The first bar sign I saw was in French, of course, and I knew what the word "bar" meant in English. I entered and ordered a beer from the woman behind the bar. As I stood there looking around in the dim light I became aware that the only people in there were lesbians, and I left.
Out on the street I walked just a short block when I heard a voice calling to me. A young woman was hiding in a doorway calling for me to come closer to her. A transaction was made, and we had a party together at a hotel nearby. Out on the street afterward, I was seeking a taxi to go back to the Littre when two women, one on each arm, escorted me to their room. What a night it was. It really was! Paris sure was much different from Adana, Turkey. Snow was still falling when I hailed a taxi to return to the Littre - at 9 Rue Littre, 75006 Paris (Montparnasse Department). I had one room out of the 120 rooms that made up the hotel where I would spend my first night in Paris, France.
The ride back to the Littre Hotel was another wild taxi ride. I was holding on for dear life! I paid with American money which delighted the taxi driver. He said something and sped away as I entered the hotel. I was glad to be back at my room and had some snacks, purchased when I had eaten earlier that day. I laid out my clothes for the next day and packed my others. I cleaned my shoes, and after a shower and shave it was past midnight. I turned out the lights after setting up a wakeup call for 0800 hours and drifted off into pleasant dreams. I didn't have to be at Dreux Air Base until January 15th, 1960 and I planned not to hurry my journey there. I didn't want to rush. The 0800 hour wakeup call would do just fine.
The telephone rousted me out of a good night's sleep with the desk saying it was 0800 hours and the day I was to arrive at Dreux. Another travel adventure, this time by train. So far, I was doing very well not using the French language. I dressed and got my things together, heading downstairs to turn in my key and to get some breakfast. I polished off as much food as I could, all while wondering where and when I would eat again.
After breakfast I inquired at the desk about getting to Dreux. The Staff Sergeant working at the hotel gave me directions and pointed me toward the train station, saying it was about a 90 minute ride to Dreux. I found the train station and after some hassle buying my ticket, I located my train for Dreux. I found a seat on the train and waited for it to pull away.
The French trains had all the passenger seats on one side of the train car and the aisleway was on the other side. My first train ride since being a young boy back in Louisville, Kentucky was about to begin. Would this train go really fast, I wondered. I had heard some French trains were trying to become very fast. We pulled out of the Montparnasse train station and headed out of Paris. Soon we were in the countryside and I would say we were hitting at least 60 miles per hour. The train car was swaying side to side, and most passengers were busy reading or just looking out the windows. No one was talking to anybody. I guessed this to be the custom on French trains. Some folks just looked me up and down and didn't say a word one way or the other.
French towns passed by and after 90 minutes I began to see signs along the railroad tracks mentioning Dreux. In just a little while the train began to slow down and pull into the station. We came to a slow, rolling stop and I saw people standing along the concrete platform under the station roof. Here at Dreux passengers began to get off the train and make their way into the station building. Some began to board the train. I left the train and went into the station building. I didn't want to look dumb but, uh, where was the air base?
While setting up my next plan of action for a short time out on the street side of the station building, I saw an airman in civilian clothes. I asked him, "Where is the base, and how do I get there?" Though he was catching a train for Paris for a three day pass, he pointed down the street. "Go several blocks and turn left. Then go just a little way and wait in front of a tavern," which he told me the name of. There, he said, I could catch an Air Force vehicle going to the base, but he gave me no indication of how long I'd wait. He just said there'd be a ride for me.
I knew Dreux Air Base was a little over 15 miles from the town of Dreux itself, I wasn't about to try walking there. I hoped my wait would be just a little while. Standing outside a tavern with my suitcase beside me I would stand out like a sore thumb. No one, however, seemed to notice me and I guessed they had seen this sight many times before. I looked back toward where I had come from, and said a little prayer for a ride soon.
I'm on a street in Dreux, almost to my destination, Turkey was many miles behind me now and I needed somewhere to live. I had left Paris around 1100 hours and it was now after 1400 hours. I had a chocolate bar from my bag as I waited. The weather was still cold, but there was sunshine breaking through the clouds. I hoped any rain would hold off until I got a ride to the base. I heard the noise of a truck engine, and an Air Force 6-by-6 truck came around the corner. I had been waiting only about 35 minutes and was being blessed with big transportation for my ride to my next duty station.
I flagged down the driver and told him I was going to the base. He said to put my bag in the truck bed. As we started rolling toward the base, he told me why he was in town. I saw road signs that said Brezoles, Dampierre and Mallebois - and some I just can't remember - along the road to the base. He said the base had been there since 1954 and had C-119 and C-123 cargo planes, but the C-123s were sent back to the states in 1958. The housing for the C-123 squadron was on the other side of the runway and wasn't being used at all, he told me.
He continued giving me a sneak preview of the base as we went along. He also told me the French President did not want the United States Forces in his country much longer, and could close our bases there. The ground was somewhat level and used for farming around the road to the base. Houses were of stone and the telephone poles were made of concrete due to the lack of large pine forests.
1960, Dreux AFB: Air Base Snack Bar manager. Good Morning Breakfast menu: Hotcakes, 2 eggs, bacon or sausage, all for just 45-cents!
Dreux Air Base main gate as it looked when I visited there in August 1987.
At the entrance to the air base there was a long metal pole across the roadway. Beyond, about 100 feet, there was a concrete one-man guard shack standing in the middle of the roadway. There was a large wooden sign to the right of the road just outside the metal pole saying "Dreux Air Base" with pictures of planes on it. We pulled up to the gate and an Air Policeman motioned us through as he raised the gate pole. He checked my ID card and surely I would find a room for the night there. The truck deposited me at the base Service Club and Snack Bar, both in the same building.
Charlie at Dreux, 1961
American and French Flags at Dreux AFB.
I thanked the Airman truck driver for the safe ride from the town of Dreux to its namesake air base. He said he was going to Base Supply and he would see me around. I walked in the service club entrance and hung a left to go in the snack bar doors. Wow! I was hungry for a burger and fries, washed down with a vanilla milkshake. I found a seat and left my raincoat, bag and hat on a chair while ordering my meal. The manager spoke very good English including many slang words. My food was ready quickly and I chowed down on the $1.95 meal! I looked around the room to see that I was just another airman at the snack bar having a meal.
As I left the snack bar I asked directions to base headquarters - which turned out to be just a short walk. At headquarters I saw the Officer in Charge, gave him the folder containing my orders and signed in officially at Dreux Air Base. A CQ runner drove me to the barracks where I would live, stopping first at the supply room for my bunk, bedding, and a footlocker. Fortunately Supply was next door to the barracks! He helped me carry everything upstairs to the last bay on the southeast side of a long hall. There was a large grey two-door metal wall locker ready for me to move over to my area.
I had a space to the right of the west bay door that led out into the upstairs hall. You'd go out the door and make a right, then another right took you to the latrine. To the left and down the outside stairs and you were at the barber shop and service club/snackbar and the mess hall. French windows looked out over the north goalpost end of the football field. Other airmen lived in this bay but were not there when I arrived. I got my area squared away and moved the wall locker to where I needed it. Darkness wasn't far off and the flag was retired as reveille was played over the base.
Dreux Air Base
March, 1961: A/2C Sibert in front of Dreux AFB sign, main gate entrance.
Dreux AFB - 1960. C119G (Cargo)
Refueling a T-33.
Charlie Sibert refueling plane.
Drew Air Base Map (click for larger).
I had been told to return to headquarters the following day and I would be sent to the 7305th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Officer in Charge. This officer was Captain Joe I. Cottle, and he seemed very glad I was sent here to Dreux.
I received a temporary mess card for meals at the mess hall. All I had were a few civvies and my Class-A Uniform I was wearing. I hoped my hold baggage was at air freight waiting for me the next day - Thursday January 14, 1960. I used my mess card and had a good meal. The base had streetlights but the place was all new to me, so I headed back to my Bay to introduce myself to the others.
I introduced myself to my fellow bay occupants as they came in. I also decided to try out the latrine and shower. The shower room was separate from the sinks and toilets but close by. A good old hot water shower and shave almost put me to sleep standing up! The bay floor was a dark brown/black tile that had been waxed many times from the year 1954. A wet mop and power buffer was all that was needed to make it shine and stand tall. Steam radiators were along the south wall of the bay and it seemed quite warm now. We had some snowflakes and it was around the freezing mark there.
Friday, January 15, 1960 came early for me. After breakfast I returned to see Captain Cottle, the Officer in Charge at Aircraft Maintenance. He turned me over to his NCOIC, M/Sgt. Joe B. Miller and assistant NCOIC S/Sgt Howard M. Abshier. I could be put in the rudder gang changing rudders on the C-119s at the hangar across the field that the C-123 squadron once occupied before being sent back to the states. As we talked more and more about what I had been doing at İncirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey. It became apparent that I was a trained Transient Alert Specialist!
The NCOIC, M/Sgt. Miller was reading from my performance report sent there from İncirlik Air Base and felt I was more highly qualified than any other he had in that job. He said I was to continue on in that capacity at Dreux until I was relieved of duty or rotated back to the States. I was taken to meet another Alert airman and got a closeup look at the two 1954 Volkswagen pickup trucks that were used as follow me trucks. They had been sent there when the base was first opened in 1954. I was going to have the same hours as at İncirlik: 24 hours on, 48 hours off. Our Alert Office was in one of the large hangars adjacent to Base Ops and the Fire Department, both just a short walk from my barracks.
S/Sgt. Abshier took me to air freight to get my hold baggage which had already arrived the day before. I couldn't wait to get into my fatigues and boots. The rest of the day was mine to just "show up on Monday January 18th, ready to get to work", he said to me. I thanked him and set out to square away my wall locker and footlocker. Monday I'd have to get my pay records arranged as I was getting low on money. I found my wall locker had enough hangers for my clothes and I had my own combo locks for it - and my issue footlocker in my baggage. I now had two footlockers.
Dreux Air Base Commander, 1960-1961 and staff.
I began to explore Dreux Air Base. In the next few weeks I found it was very different from İncirlik. First, I was dealing with French people, many more of whom spoke English and Transient Alert duty at Dreux was a breeze compared to İncirlik as we had hardly any aircraft to contend with. I looked forward to my three meals at the mess hall and, of course, midnight chow when I was on duty.
A/3c Kenneth Priddy, Paris 1960.
It wasn't too many months later that I purchased a MoPed from A/3C Kenneth Priddy from West Virginia who was a Transient Alert airman. He bought it new in Dreux sometime in June, 1960. Now I had a ride to and from work and all around the base. I easily got a driver's license from the Air Police.
The Moped license (top) and receipt (bottom).
THE NIGHT MYERS RODE THE BARBED WIRE DOWN
I had not owned the Moped, which I purchased from A/3C Kenneth Priddy in 1960 while at Dreux Air Base, but one month when A/2C Jim Myers asked to borrow it
Jim's space in my upstairs barracks bay overlooked the Dreux Air Base football field. He told me he could ride with the best of them and since he was from California I let him practice on my moped out in front of the barracks on the street. I told him that after more practice time he could borrow it to ride out toward Senonches for a first time visit to Mommaís bar.
In just a few more days the time came to let him go the distance, as I called the ride out there.
The evening came when he would take his journey on my Moped. I instructed him to return
slowly, and with caution, because a sharp S-curve out there would come up on him very fast. Being off that day as part of my 48 hour off, I sent him off with a warning: watch that S-curve on your return ride to the base!
Sometime after midnight I awoke to what I thought was water being poured over me. I switched on my night light and found Myers standing over my bunk, blood pouring from his right ear, partially severed near his sideburn area, and spilling all over my face. A towel was applied to his wound as we both entered the Latrine. Sitting on the toilet nearest the sinks he looked like he was mortally wounded. He said he couldnít feel a thing on that side of his face.
A/2C Jim Myers, Dreux Air Base, 1961
As I bathed his torn ear with cold water he didnít flinch one little bit. His blood was cleaned from my facial area and I dressed and walked with him to the base hospital. An officer there sutured his ear back in place without even so much as a wince from Myers who was still full of his own anesthetic.
Myers had lost his eyeglasses and cigarette lighter when he ran off the road, crashing into the barbed wire fence at the S-curve. The Handle bars were crooked, the front light was broken, and with the front fender rubbing the tire, Myers was halted at the front gate and told to walk the moped to his barracks which he did.
Out the front gate, using a three cell flashlight after a quick fix up on the moped at 3:00 AM, I went to retrieve his personal things at the crash site. The gate guard almost didnít allow me to go off base.
There at the curve under the fence were his glasses and lighter. Back in the barracks I gave Myers his stuff and told him to shut up and no more crying about my damaged moped. The next day I rode into Dreux and bought what was needed for the front light at the moped shop. No more moped rides for Myers, though all was forgiven about that bloody night at Dreux Air Base.
||At left is Susie's husband and his flat-top car. Another airman who regularly visited the bar had borrowed it to go the 15ks to Senonches. On the return trip to Susie's bar, he took a curve at high speed and rolled it over causing the flat top. Evidently he and his passengers rolled it back over on its wheels and drove on back to Susie's with no apparent injuries! "Why did I let that airman from Dreux Air Base borrow my car?" he said.
I know it still runs, but it'll hold water now!" I'm glad I had a MoPed!|
Charlie at Susie's Bar.
1960-'61 - Susie in the doorway of her bar.
A/2C Sibert (above) and A/3C Priddy (right) in the two 1954 Volkswagen pickup "follow me" trucks on the flight line at Dreux AFB.
A/2C Sibert on Priddy's ex-MoPed in white Alert coveralls at the aircraft washing area off the main runway looking westward.
Susie outside her bar.
1960, Maillebois on Road D-20 near base.
1960 Road signs near the Open Gate Restaurant & Bar near the air base.
1960-'61 - Open Gate Restaurant & Bar at the entrance road to the main gate. Birdsong's British sports car that we drove to see the English Channel.
I believe it was in the fall of 1960 while I was stationed at Dreux A/B France that the the singing group "The Ink Spots" were booked for a great performance one weekend at the Service club. I got their autographs on some note paper. Yes, I shook each one's hand and told them how much I had enjoyed their singing.
On my off days I ventured out on the "local economy." The mileage was really great for the MoPed and it was nothing to go fifteen miles away from the base. Just a half mile from the front gate outside the base was the Open Gate Bar and Restaurant where many of us spent some time. The food was good, there were drinks and dancing with the young French girls. Just down the road from Maillebois was Susie's Bar in Chateauneuf where we airmen also hung out. There were some other bars fairly close to the base in different directions. Also, you could always ride in to Dreux nearby. On base, we had movies, service club functions, library, gym and snackbar among things to while away time while off duty.
Charlie, Dreux Air Base, 1961.
At work, we had a one-man crew each day for Transient Alert. Some days, with nothing coming to the base I would make a run on the AFEX to purchase what I needed and take it up to my room. Some of the fellows said I never worked while I was there. I assured them I had a very stressful job and it was really getting to me so much that I needed my 48 hours off duty to unwind. They told me I needed to go see the Chaplain. Sometimes I spent most of my off time off the base, out in the town.
If we had an inspection of the barracks while I was away, my roommates cleaned my area and adjusted my dustcover blankets. One time a Captain asked my roommates, "Why were there no shoes under my bunk for inspection?" One of the guys said they were at the shoe shop. That provoked a laugh from the officer and quickly spread to everyone in the bay. He told them to have me set out shoes for the next time.
Base Alert at Dreux Air Base, July, 1960
The House at Bigeonnette.
It was a warm July day in 1960 at Dreux Air Base, France and I was headed toward the base front gate upon my moped. I was on my way to visit the two French girls who were staying for the summer in Bigeonnette just two miles from the center of Chateauneuf in the very nice house shown at left.
Just as I was nearing the front gate entrance the base alert warning signal sounded and I knew to turn around and head to my assembly area which was next door to my barracks in the supply building. Locking up my moped at the rear outside stairs I quickly ran upstairs and hurriedly changed into my fatigues, put on my helmet liner, tightened my pistol belt and canteen around me and with boots untied made my way to supply where I laced up my boots.
A sergeant motioned all of us who were there to get out our weapons receipt cards, go inside and fill our hands with M-1 Carbines and load up on the 6 by 6 truck waiting there in the street. Soon we were headed toward the east side of the base to a section of the perimeter fencing to practice what we would do if this were for real. Of course the ground was wet and down we were told to lay and point our weapons toward our section of fence responsibility.
My weapons card.
The alert signal sounded and after two hours on the ground everyone was good and wet as we boarded the 6 by 6 truck for the ride back to supply. As I was turning in my M-1 Carbine and taking back my weapons receipt card from the airman at supply the sergeant told us that the alert was for two days and the base was locked down tight.
I came within an eyelash of getting off the base for these alert days as it was my 48 hours off time to spend out on the local economy. When I finally got to visit Bigeonnette
the French gals were so upset and with no communication from me for three days it was very hard to explain to them how a base alert comes about with no warning.
A Memory You Can Help Me With:
One late day in September 1960 as I and my moped were on our way to the mess hall for supper, "what was that I said to myself?" What would a Turkish sergeant in his class "A" uniform be doing walking down the street at Dreux Air Base?
Well, I just could not contain myself so I turned around and pulled up next to him. This seemed to startle him but when I asked him what he was doing there in his native language he imediately put out his hand to clasp mine in a firm handshake. Then he told me he was there for a radio school and he could speak some English and this was why he was selected to come to Deux Air Base.
He said he had not found another person there that spoke any Turkish. We seemed polarized after that meeting drawn together like magnets because of the Turkish Language. He was my constant companion on and off the base for his school duration which was some 60 days.
When I rode to Susies bar there he was riding on the rear luggage carrier along with me where some weeks ago there had been the posterior of a beautiful young French girl. He stuck to me like glue and some days I had to take a short cut just to have some free time for myself. One day when I believed I would leave the base alone there he was waiting for me at the front gate. This hopefully solidified American and Turkish relations somewhat.
I have the photo of him, above at right, in his Air Force class "A" uniform. He told me he was from Izmir, Turkey and to write to him. This did not happen because I only found the foto again while searching albums for my story. I wonder if he could be alive today? His name is on the foto and his address. The foto will be on its way to you and maybe you will have a way to locate him.
On the day he was leaving Dreux Air Base we met at the snack bar for a meal, which was on me. We bid each other fair well in Turkish and with a hug and a handshake he went back to his native homeland. He was the only Turkish airman I ever saw after I had left Turkey for good. Let's hope someone will remember him there in Turkey.