© 2003-2011 by Author
In October, 1961, after a tour aboard USS ROCHESTER CA-124, I left Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island with orders in hand - enroute to a place I had only heard of in high school geography. I took 30 days leave and left via Eastern Airlines out of New York, enroute to Paris, France; We arrived in Paris (PN2 Tommy Coco was with me) and we overslept, got "chewed out" by an E9 air force type who said we weren't worth much (He said more - @!%++#&!!) . He put us on an Air France flight to Naples, Italy. From Naples, we flew by C130 military aircraft to Nicosia, Cyprus, to Athens, Greece and then Istanbul.
Of course - the ferry to Yalova and a taxi to "home", KARAMURSEL Air Station. We checked in, had chow at the air force dining hall and found out that the air force would be our "host" but really - we had better watch the "Turks".
I checked in and was assigned to the Legal Office. YN2 Becker had been doing the job for some time, and when he left, I took over and found my home for 18 months working for Captain J. R. Hunsicker, a "salty" attorney who had been assigned as NATO Trial Observer for U.S. military in trouble in Turkey.
For the next 18 months, with lots of liberty, I travelled much of Turkey with Captain Hunsicker and a Turkish attorney named Ayden Menguc. We attended several Turkish civil court trials of folks in trouble and cared for a Navy Chief who was in a Turkish prison not far from KAS. We managed to get him out of Turkey some 6 months after he was jailed by the Turkish authorities. It was EASY to get in trouble in Turkey, just sell a carton of cigarettes or anything to the wrong person.
I vaguely remember the Chief's Turkish trial. It was a very quiet, civil affair and not like the USA and, my memory isn't perfect, he did sell the cigarettes - the evidence was there. So, off to jail. Turkish prisons are spartan with the only food and support coming from family and in this case, we were the Chief's "Family", so a periodic visit was necessary.
I was the Court Reporter for a number of folks that didn't obey the rules at KAS and we were also responsible for all Navy and Marine Corps people in Turkey. The SECGRU personnel at Det 28 were comparatively disciplined but a few needed help and we did provide that. Ayden Menguc, Turkish attorney, worked hard with us during that time and got quite a few servicemen out of trouble and out of the country. He was one of the most dignified, qualified people I have ever met.
Many serious stories here but on the "high side" liberty was GREAT. I did many foot trail "walks" in the hills in back of KAS. One could walk the Roman roads that were created a couple of thousand years ago. They were perfect in condition and one could stretch their way through miles of rural Turkey via "shanks mare", visiting small Turkish villages that were not even on the map. On one hill about a mile in back of KAS, one could look out and see almost all the way from Yalova, to Site 4, to KAS, to Golcuk with the Sea of Marmara in the background. It was beautiful in the summer.
We traveled to almost every place worth seeing in Turkey beyond the "bul". I remember "Buyukada", a Turkish island resort that I have a number of films of and I recall horseback rides in the mountains, and eating in Turkish restaurants in places my wife would never go to. About a year before I left, a YN2 Hartzell checked in, a good shipmate that I travelled with on liberty. PN2 Tommy Coco was fun. Seems he would show up at the KAS NCO club,and after 2 drinks, Tommy was ready to sing, and not a bad voice. He sang alot of songs at the KAS NCO club.
Then there was the Chief's Club at the Golcuk Turkish Navy Base. A person could easily walk there along the shore. They would let anybody in-had a few slot machines, food, and a perfect view of the Sea of Marmara.
Well, after many trips around Turkey and many, many trips to Istanbul, it was June 1963 and I boarded another C130 in Istanbul and headed for Sidi Yahia, Morocco; West Malling, England; the Azores; Greenland and finally Norfolk.
I reenlisted some 60 days later, did A and B School and became a CTT1 a short time later. When the Viet Nam War was nearly ended, I left the service early and finished up in the Naval Reserve community. Highlights? The wonderful receptivity of many Turkish people that took care of Ayden Menguc, Captain Hunsicker and me while travelling a number of dusty roads. I remember one trip in the winter to a Turkish court. We found no restaurants that were open on the road. Ayden had me stop the car at a closed restaurant on the Sea of Marmara where the owner opened up and fed us a meal that I will never forget. Hospitality with a capital H :)
Thanks to many good people for many good memories. BTW, here's a pic of me getting the Good (?) Conduct Medal from Captain Hargreaves.
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