Otis "Ohio" Slusher
© 2003-2011 by Author
I was an 18-year-old ASA, E3-E4, 982 on "the rock" at Sinop between Aug 1965 and July 1966. I ended up spending eight years on active duty with ASA with tours at the 14th Field Station in Hakata (66-69), 330th RRC at Pleiku and Nha Trang (69-70) and both Bad Aibling and Augsburg (70-72).
Memories of tours following Sinop are much easier to remember, for some reason, but do have some recollections of Sinop I'd like to share! My memories of Sinop are spotty and randomly follow; not many bad memories of Sinop other than boredom and loneliness! It wasn't a good place for a young man who loved the girls, cars and fast driving, for sure!
I received orders sending me to Sinop in early July 1965, but was held over at a casual company in Ft. Devens, MA until my 18th birthday in early Auguse - an easy month as I recall. I had firewatch twice if memory serves. I do recall wearing civilian clothes on a Pan Am flight from NYC to Paris and then THY Turkish airlines from Paris to Ankara! After a day or two at an army repo-depo in Ankara, it was off to Trabazon, Turkey on an OTTER aircraft, followed by a truck trip to Sinop, which was on a peninsula in the Black Sea!
I do recall the "canned" radio station KBOK, and I believe it was "land-lined" everywhere on the rock. As a rock-and-roll lover, I remember Petula Clark's "Downtoan" as the number one song there, and I remember that tune being sung drunkenly - and badly - at the club, again and again. We also were into folk music (esp Peter, Paul and Mary) and really enjoyed Buddy Holly tunes. I remember an acoustical guitarist doing Holly tunes at the club! I also remember cheap beers (a dime) at the club and lots of $1 dunks! I have memories of stacks and stacks of beer cans on the tables and the "NEXT" (to leave) having the honor of diving through them! Yep, I do have very, very vague memories of my last week on the rock, for sure!
On a sad note, I do recall a suicide about halfway through my tour. It was in same billet I lived in, on the square directly across from the mess hall.
Mess hall food wasn't very good, but there being plenty of it, 'cept the milk and eggs sucked. Oh yeah, I can't forget the nasty smell of the Turkish cigarettes stinking-up the place! (I wasn't a smoker, yet) I brought home two packs of "Yeni Harmen" cigs, one of which my sister opened in "desperation" one day *smile* 30-plus years ago and the other, still unopened, is now in my memorabilia drawer. And it still smells bad!!!!
I had my basic training photo (Oscar 4, second to none, Fort Dix, NJ - Dec '64-Feb '65) painted as a portrait in downtown Sinop. It hung in my parents living room and later my dad's room for over 30 years. It's now in one of our closets scaring away the rats.
I have two wooden model sailboats, marked Sinop '65, on our bedroom dresser. There's a Sinop shop Meerschaum pipe, a puzzle ring, a lighter and Turkish playing cards from Sinop among my memorabilia as well as some photos. I vaguely remember going to midnight "Flicks" many, many nights. We saw a movie called "Racing Fever," about speed boat racing which played over and over - a lousy flick, for sure, but kind of a "cult" thing packing the theater night after night. I also recall that we'd all wait for the Turkish fireman to check the fire extinguishers on the stage and then we would all bombard him with everything we had! It was kind of a nightly ritual at the midnight flick!
As a Private First Class, I got into a big argument with a Second Lieutenant, ROTC :). The "fuel" for that argument was my having sided with some drunken older NCOs at the Christmas section party in a quonset hut on Christmas Eve of 1965. I woke-up on Christmas day, in a cell at the PMO!!! I heard that the "louie" was in the other cell! I had to write a letter of apology to someone but I made SP4 a month later so it wasn't that bad.
I spent some times in town, and remember drinking "Raki" and getting "yenis" (newly arrived troops) bombed on it, as kind of a "welcome" initiation! I remember a little bar (3 stools and some tables) and believe it was a soccer betting room. There was a glass bar (like a store display case) filled with rotting peanuts and roaches. The head was an outhouse behind the bar on a little stand built out over the Black Sea harbor! Did your business right into the water! Had to watch for passing boats as the wakes played hell if you were inside the outhouse!
I remember encountering big angora sheep. Some were dyed bright orange (the leaders of the pack? :). The first one I saw was tied-up behind the bar and I almost ran into it on a trip to the aformentioned outhouse. It scared me because at first I thought I was seeing things. It was fun to freak-out the yenis with that huge orange thing!!! I certain heard lots of rumors about Turks, big boots and sheep!
My memories include boat trips and Turks shooting seagulls with shotguns and renting boats (four or five of us went together and bought one) and drunkenly drifting on the Black Sea! It had a lawnmower engine! I tried snorkeling and water skiing, my first time on water skis, on the Black Sea too! It was some kind of a summer (4th of July? - there were real American girls there - USO??) party on the beach near town! I stepped on some kind of nasty sea creature shaped like a pillow (about 3 or 4 inches long) with long curved spikes at each corner. MY foot swelled up so I went to sick call and had no duty for nearly a week. Just sat in the club playing cards and drinking beer with my foot propped-up on another chair!
I remember the work as being occasionally interesting, but usually boring, though it opened my eyes a bit. Except for Vietnam, of course, I always treated the "work" as some kind of game that I was involved in! I have memories of the KARAHANIs at Trabazon and Ankara, too but I'll skip that part!!! :)
It's funny how you remember stuff once you start writing about it! I have much more on my mind, but enough is enough! so hope this stirs your memory cells a bit! I've been living in Fort Walton Beach, Fl, for 3 years now (formerly from Ohio), right on the Gulf of Mexico! A fisherman's paradise!!!! Love it, 'cept for the hurricanes and tornados. I would enjoy hearing your comments on this, as well as your own recollections of Sinop! I like to exchange stories, and memories with other "Sinopians" or those from my other duty stations, especially if you remember me. Hmm, I was that skinny blonde kid working mids as a 982 and was known as Otis, Slush and OHIO! Played lotsa pinochle, spades and dinking' at the service club". Remember me???? Otis "Ohio" Slusher - 1965-'66
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