In 1965 the Air Force sent me to Indiana University to study Russian Language for 9 months. 6 hours a day, every day, with non-English speaking instructors. From There we went to San Angelo, Texas, for tech training and from there to our overseas assignments. Needless to say, from the early days at Indiana we were all very interested in where we would be stationed overseas. Rumors were always rampant and I wanted to be with my friends regardless. Guess what, I got KARAMURSEL and no one else did. I predicted 18 months of hell based on what I had heard from the rumor mill. New York to Istanbul.
I really felt important, being 20 and all, on a Pan Am jet headed for Istanbul all alone I had a beer at the London airport when we arrived From there, Istanbul I met some Air Force people there and was off to the ferrry for a 2-hour ride From the ferry and a bus ride to the base. Hard to believe, you couldn't call home in those days and thank God for being young, I just went with the flow.
GIs tend to listen to rumors most of the time and I surely did Most of the airmen were unsure of Turkey, homesick and therefore never left the base I was fortunate enough to meet some daring souls who wanted to take a trip to Istanbul Again the rumor mills were rampant about hated Americans, the usual don't eat or drink anything I courageously left for Istanbul trying to hide my American identity Hiding American identity is impossible when you have military appearances, anyway it was adventurous Probably the best part on my first trip was getting to KARAMURSEL (it actually felt like home!) I was determined to do it again.
The Yalova Ferry and Other Transportation
We had a choice of an express ferry or a longer ride which stopped at different islands along the way The express seemed logical and it was I was with friends who had done this many times before and was thankful I rejected the rumors about not eating or drinking local stuff and learned to really like Turkish bread and sometimes cheese with it I have never liked tea before and didn't drink the famous chai (Turkish tea) very much I started learning some Turkish words and always felt good to stand in line and be able to ask for something in Turkish and know the price in advance I only wish I had taken the time to master the Turkish language I felt that this was the way to meet and show respect to my host country The words that I did learn easily set me apart from my fellow airmen though Once in Istanbul we opted for typical local transportation, the dolmushes and buses The dolmus was basically a taxi that picked people up along the way to a specific area You could get off anywhere along the way for set price Once it was full, you just kept going It was much less cheaper than a taxi I can't remember if we tipped the drivers or not though On occasion we took bus rides They were experiences, really jammed with people and didn't seem as convenient as the dolmus They must have been cheaper I guess If you didn't smoke, the aroma of Turkish tobacco would sicken you.
The Bazaar and Other Downtown Istanbul Attractions
The last thing my parents told me before I left was do not buy them any souvenirs and especially a camel saddle footrest! We found the famous bazaar in Istanbul and wandered for hours around it My friends were buying all those things my parents warned me about I'm not a jewelry lover but saw a lot of gold and wondered if it was real anyway I guess the bazaar was precursor to today's giant malls, all indoors We visited Topkapi, the famous palace, and it was impressive I can't remember what hotel we stayed in though, not the Hilton We went to a nightclub on occasion but they were very expensive On the numerous trips we took, we just explored and I can't really remember all the historical sites we saw We saw the Russian consulate at various times and got an uneasy feeling walking by it On occasion we would stop by the NCO Club in Istanbul for lunch or dinner The club was very modern and a treat for us.
The Island Of Buyukada
One of my fondest memories is of the island of Buyukada, on the way to Istanbul from Yalova We rented an apartment for the summer of 1967 with other airmen who were on other shifts so we got a price break without the crowds The island had no motorized vehicles on it so horse and buggy was the only way to go except for walking I got used to eating lamb chops, bread, cheese, and Turkish beer Our view was of picture post card quality One night I vividly remember was going to an outdoor movie theater watching a James Bond movie It made me a little homesick seeing all the scenes of American cities We went to a Turkish disco once but it was not really for American GIs It was an experience traveling around the island in the peace and quiet of no cars or trucks.
I organized a skiing trip to somewhere in Turkey from the base - bus, hotel, just about everything That was a lot of fun The trip was during Ramadan (Muslim holiday) The driver stopped as soon as it got dark to eat his meal Needless to say the GIs just about revolted and I of course got a lot of impatient questions I believe we ran into a blizzard and had to walk part of the way I was an accomplished skier prior to the trip but made the mistake of using ski boots that were 2 sizes too small and my feet hurt so much that I couldn't ski! The resort had lifts and all I did meet some nice Americans who were in the Peace Corps My feet hurt so much that all I could think about was getting back to the base.
I also remember renting a large boat with a captain off the base for a ride We went swimming in the Maramara while it was anchored.
Sports were an active pastime for spectators and participants (I wasn't) The base softball league (fast pitch) was very intense and umpire insults flew all over the place; very high quality play Even the flag football games were thrilling.
I participated in bridge of all things! I was a duplicate (tournament) player before arriving and met a Life Master (highest rank and very hard to get) who was 21 He organized a base bridge league and it was successful.
I also took a college course on base, International Relations, and got credit from University of Maryland.
The Base Movie Theater
Wow! We used to go to the movies after the 11:00PM shift Usually the airmen would get very upset if the movie didn't start exactly at midnight, screaming obscenities at the Turkish projector operators Sometimes, their antics were funnier than the movies.
The base Airmen's Club was a great start for drinking and gambling problems Very cheap drinks all the time and those damn slot machines That's where I learned to have a shot and a beer for breakfast! The Airmen's Club was a lot of fun with bands coming in and those belly dancers A lot of security was needed when the dancers were there.
One of the most memorable trips I took was a 6-day trip to the Holy Lands All for $66.00 And it didn't even count against your leave time I wasn't a very religious person but I knew this trip would be full of history to say the least We left in May and the 6-day war (Israel vs. Arabs) started in June I really got caught up in the war (I mean reading everything I could get my hand on) since I was just there Jerusalem was a divided city then.
My Turkish stay was a momentous time in my life and when I meet someone who might be Turkish, I always say Merhaba Abi. I have met Turks on the web and love talking to them and would love to go back some time.
Pamukkale (Cotton Castle), Denizli Province, SW Turkey.
Below, you can find some pics of people I don't really remember and mucho credit to Jeff Dickinson for
Click either of above to download and view as .pdf files.
Left is a February 2, 1967, KARAMURSEL Sentinel and on the right is an Ops schedule on which Bill Waters wrote notes These are scans of the originals and are in .pdf format Great additions to the MerhabaTurkey archives.
A terrific collection of 1960s pictures!
KARAMURSEL Bowling Ass'n patch.
Golden Horn Divers patch.
A2C Bill Waters from Syracuse, NY, area.
Uludag ski area, T-bar lifts.
Picnic area somewhere on the base.
Firetruck on base at KARAMURSEL.
of air base, note modern street lights on right front of pic.
shot another view.
landscaped barracks at base.
view outside the barracks.
theater on island of Buyukada. Saw a James Bond movie at it.
Not a bad idea!
ride off base, Sgt. Ryan in center.
at the Airmen's Club on base.
apartment with (L-R) Russ Gross (N. Jersey) George Knowles, and Jeff
an express ferry to Istanbul from Yalova.
shot - from one side of the boat to the other.
at Buyukada - note the advert for the maritime bank.
going up Bosphorus from Istanbul.
View towards the famous Leander's Tower.
Wendt from Providence, RI, had a relationship with musical group Cowsills.
Shafer(from PA) telling us about something.
in Yalova, all Americans, Jeff Dickinson is next to his wife and Ed
Shaffer is in the corner.
and I think he's calling us to go on duty
Bill Waters-cooking lamb at Buyukada apartment.
and 3 guys at the apartment.
A2C, standing outside the barracks.
picture of the base.
legged - caravan outside the air base.
standing in town in front of some interesting stoneworks.
Waters, at Buyukada and the view from that location is spectacular!
submarine watchin' off Buyukada
photo study - Buyukada.
- similar foto - interesting, don't you think?
building in Buyukada.
of the apt on Buyukada.
again - great scene.
Waters - enjoying the good life.
and Mrs. Dickinson.
his wife, and Bob Miller
his wife, and Bob Miller - different pic.
Bob Miller - and thanks for the name.
Bill Waters at the Scuba diving club on base
A softball game.
newsprint heading somewhere in Turkey
with Turkish guide.
Trade Fair - view 2.
kids - these guys have to be, hmm, maybe 40 now? If you know
these guys, email me.
Sea: no bathing suits for most of us; just too damn hot and so
we went right in.
shrine at Ephesus.
guide at Ephesus.
kids - hey, if you recognize yourself, please email me.
guys at a ski lodge somewhere (Uludag?) with a bottle to share. L-R, Richard (Desi) Desiderato, NJ, Mid (unk), and (R) is Dennis (?)
LaVoieand hey, there's a sailboat on top of the frig
and note the modern ceiling light!
Hickey(Iowa) and Jeff Dickinson.
Drees, wife was Ginger, lived in Yalova. Gotta be going to Istanbul.
TimYeager and Willie Lemmon in the apartment.
Rick Drees, Bill in chair, standing is Jimmy Johnson, and drinking is Paul
Connors in apt in Yalova.
Knowles, Ed Shaffer, and Bernie Williamsin the Yalova apartment.
Williams and Ed Shafer.
Lemmon, quarterback for "Baker" flight flag football team.
guy with beer can is Russ Gross, Brian Mattison big guy in white, Jimmy
Johnson in white, partially hidden guy is Tim Yeager and with glasses,
L-R Phil "Hud" Newman & Bernie Richards
(Updated description submitted by Jim Hickey, 20 Mar 2017.)
Dennis Bonzo, a Bulgarian linguist, at Uladag Turkey, on a ski trip.
(Updated description submitted by Jim Hickey, 20 Mar 2017.)
Anybody know the guys in the pics below?
if you know who they are: