© 2014 by Author
Contact the Author
I was stationed at the 6932nd RSM from 1958 to 1959. Lived in downtown Samsun with 4 other guys including George, our only AP at the time. After Sgt. Sowell left, I took over the role of Comm Center Team Leader. Have been in EMail contact with a fellow Samsun GI, Jerry Adams, until this day. Left Samsun in late November 1959 for 6961st Comm. Sqd. at Security Hill, San Antonio, TX. I wish I still had my pictures of Samsun, but they were lost in a fire.
I lived in the Elli Altı Evler (56 Houses) housing area. Ed Wilson, also a 291 (CommCen), and Mike Carnahan, the office machine tech, lived in our house. My first an forever image of Samsun was my Sunday arrival via Black Sea Steamer. As we were disembarking onto those small water taxies, I graciously stepped side as several women and children went ahead of me onto the boat each nodding at me, then as I was about to get on, the pilot stopped me and kept saying, "Elli lira an holding out his hand, I surmised he was asking for money. I know only one Turkish word at that time, "yok", so I held up my wallet while he pointed to a 50 lira note. I knew that as a lot, but couldn't understand why I was the only one asking for money. A few days later, guys told me the womenfolk recognized that I was new and opted for a free ride -- was a common scam.
Next, after the long walk from the wharf I see this weathered sign that read, "All incoming military personnel report to the Vidinli Otel." I thought somehow the "H" fell off the
sign. I kept repeating "Vidinli?", so someone pointed me the way. When I did get there, I discovered it was just a ratty hotel and not seemingly like a US facility at all. There was a paraplegic man sitting on a stool behind the counter where I used my 2nd language, German, to get my room for the night. I figured he would speak German because of all the other guys in the lobby were speaking German and he was responding to them from time to time.
The next morning was an experience I also will never forget. I wandered into the hotel restaurant and was shown to a table. I speak no Turkish, but keep hearing people saying, "bir tani bardok sujak su" (bir tani sıcak su bardaği = a glass of hot water ). After a while I realized when they said that, the waiter brought them cups of hot water, so I tried my hand at that. Sure enough, the waiter brings me a cup of hot water and just stands there looking at me as if I am supposed to say something else. After
a bit, he softly says, "Nescafe???" I nod my head and he slips away and brings me back a partial jar of instant coffee and indicates to me I should take some. After I take my spoon and get some from the jar, he quickly takes the jar and lid and leaves. Later I discovered I just used someone else's private stash of instant coffee.
I saw many a movie at the park downtown where the GIs would gather in the evenings across from the Girls School. I also remember the "Flag that lost its stars!", the flag the girls made for us that was damaged during the celebration day to move into the new quarters up on the hill. I also remember the children chasing after the 6-bys as we rode up the hill each morning crying out, "Chiclets!" (Gum!)
I was a 2-stripper, as team chief. Parks Biggie was one of the guys working for me along with Dale Radke. Does anyone remember SSgt Tuffy, our mascot? That dog
lived with us and could smell a Turk coming a mile away.
I took many photos while there. Ed Wilson and I shared darkroom equipment and developed and printed all our black & white photos. Unfortunately all my photos are long lost. I will check with Jerry Adams to see if he has any photos from Samsun. It is amazing that all my close GI buddies from my 8-years USAFSS days have passed away. At 75-yrs old, I feel fortunate that I am still here. My time in Samsun was October 1958 - November 1959.
I hope to hear from you again, George. I can't say that I remember you though. As a CommCen person, we very seldom ever mingled much with the other GIs during my entire 8 years. We were trained to keep our mouths closed and ears open....maybe we were just afraid we might slip up sometime which could be very costly. During my USAFSS days I always knew more than I ever wanted to know about what was REALLY going on. I cherish that, but at the same time it is also a curse.