Lt. Col. (Ret) G. T. "Tom" McTERNAN, USAF
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Since I am now recovering from back surgery I have some time to share my experiences at KARAMURSEL. When I first arrived in Turkey, we under the dependent travel ban. Charlie Turner & I shared a room in the BOQ. We shared our shower and "can" with Fr. Ed Eardley, the Catholic chaplain. One of the humorous stories was the weekend that the Communion hosts didn't arrive. The 3 of us spent Saturday evening using 2 irons to make the hosts out of flour & water.....as we drank Heineken beer....I would say that they were the weirdest looking hosts.
Finally the ban was lifted and my wife Pauline arrived. We spent the next 6 months living in Yalova in a penthouse. We had the only building in town that had hot water. Pauline was complaining about the future brown stuff in her hair after showering. The vet on the base was a close friend, Capt. Walt Williams from Alabama. He & his wife, Mary Ann, were close friends of ours. We were meeting at the club for Happy Hour and dinner. Walt & I got there first. When the 2 ladies walked into the bar, the first words out of Pauline's mouth were, "What is the stuff in my hair?" Walt replied, "Well that's just plain Sheeeett". I thought Pauline was going to faint.
(Note from webmaster. I was stationed at Karamursel during the time Col. Tom was there and had an apartment in Yalova. I "think"? what Tom meant was that they lived in the only building in Yalova that had on-demand hot water. If you read my story, you'll see that we did have "hot water", although we had to stoke up a water heater with wood or charcoal.)
Our first child, Kevin, was born October 19, 1963. Since the base did not have a hospital, deliveries were done in Ankara. Pauline had to ride in a school bus the 90 miles to Istanbul. From there she was flown to Ankara. She had planned to stay with friends of ours but the night that she checked into the hospital for examination, her water broke. The next day she delivered. My boss, Col. Fred Bown was with her during the difficult delivery. Once the baby arrived he called me to get in the car abd get my butt to Ankara ASAP.
We went through 2 difficult events while in Turkey. The "Bay of Pigs" and the assassination of JFK. Pulling out the disaster plans and reading the specifics caused Charlie and me to decide that our best solution was to shoot each other because neither of us had worn uniforms for several years, they didn't fit too well.
All in all, it was a great experience and we made some incredible friends with whom we are still in contact at Christmas time. Our son was baptized by Fr. John Arthur Collins, who would subsequently become the Air Force Chief of Chaplains. We did meet up with him at Bowling AFB when Kevin was in college. In fact he was the only one of our 6 kids who was not with us as he had a summer job to help pay for his college education. We are now the proud grandparents of 11 grandkids with the 12th due to October. Kevin is now the VP of Wilson Sporting Goods and just returned from a week in China. He is the proud father of 4 daughters.
I guess that that is a short synopsis of our 2 years at KARAMURSEL. I left active duty in March of 1965 but returned to the Active Reserves in 1970, eventually retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1988. I retired out of the 440th Airlift Wing in Milwaukee. Since 1993, I have served with the Employers Support of the Guard & Reserve serving as the Wisconsin Ombudsman Director...trying to mediate employment issues between the Service Members and their Employers. Since 9/11/2001, we have had our challenges....it has been quite difficult at times. It has afforded me to give back for what our country has given me!!!!
G. T. McTernan
LtCol, USAF (RET)