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Bruce Wayne Rasco

Sergeant

42153 - Ground Equipment Specialist

Cigli AB, Turkey

Unit

1964-1966

2015 by Author

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I graduated Banks High School in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962 and opportunities in my household were limited for higher education.  I had no particular plans other than playing in a rock and roll band and partying a little too much.  My friends were enjoying the Summer of 62 before they went off to college in the fall and I, well I didn't really have a plan.  A friend, Harold Trammel, came by the house one Saturday and asked if I wanted to drive down to Southern Union Junior College in Wadley, Alabama, so he could register for a baseball scholarship.  Nothing else to do so sure, why not.  Harold was in the field house signing up for his fall semester and I was wandering around the administration building killing time.  A lady asked if I would be entering school in the fall; I told her I was just visiting with a friend and within short period of time I was enrolled on a Work Study program and entering the world of higher education.

I worked in the kitchen for forty cents an hour, serving food and cleaning up after meals to pay my tuition and room and board, and went to classes on the off time.  This was the first time I had ever been away from home and I liked college life, there were lots of things for a young boy to explore.  I did all right in the classes I liked and not so well in those that didn't interest me.  I was a member of the Circle K which was an Exchange Club sponsored college organization.  I was chairman of the Winter Formal where I learned how to organize people and things and introduce a little more mischief into that small college faculty/student relationship.  I left after a year and joined the Air Force because I needed some guidance and direction.  I could see I was easily led in the path of least resistance and needed some structure in my life, so I joined the Air Force.  Why did I chose the Air Force above any other service; aside from knowing, or at least thinking that, I would receive the discipline and order I was seeking, they had air planes!  I love aircraft and wanted to be around them.  What better choice, this group had everything I wanted.

I'm home for Christmas

I spent four years in the Air Force and two years on inactive reserve, which was normal during the middle sixties.  I didn't take full advantage of my opportunities in the service, which seemed to be a reoccurring theme and now I regret it.  Clearly there were schools I could have attended, but I never sought them out and they were never offered, so while I was gaining on my structure and discipline, I failed to take the next step.  I accept full responsibility for that; however, it would have been helpful for higher up administrators to have some type of counseling available.  In everyone's life there comes a point where he or she must take responsibility for his or her life path and stop blaming circumstances in the past for his or her future failure.  Failure might be a little too harsh but, to borrow a phrase, "Being all you can be", should be your goal.

I stayed in Ground Power because I loved any type of aircraft and loved being out on the flight line.

I left because I wasn't satisfied with where I was going.  I do regret leaving the service when I did, but I can't go back.  I got some of the discipline and structure I was looking for.  I've always had a good work ethic so that helped me later in life.  With a little guidance who knows?  The military is an organization that offers you opportunities, concealed sometime, but they are there.  The military is not your parents and they are not responsible for your life decisions; however, in any good organization the leaders will place people where they are most effective and by doing so, raises the bar for everyone in the organization.

I was never in a combat situation and as I grow older, I wish I had done more.  I went where they sent me and did what they told me to do but now it doesn't seem like enough.  I did some volunteer work in the children's ward in a hospital in downtown Izmir, Turkey.  We painted and repaired toys and played with the children.  Some of these children had been abused by parents or elders, who then put them out on the street to beg; after all, a bleeding infant draws more attention than a healthy one.  Pitiful conditions.  That was a part of a segment of the culture I didn't quite understand, but I think it is worldwide and we're just not exposed to it.  Quite a life lesson.

When we graduated from Ground Power School at Chanute, we were told there were assignments overseas mostly in Europe and one in Turkey.  The Turkey assignment had Overseas pay, remote duty pay, and hazardous duty pay; that was for me.  I practically begged for that assignment.  Of course, I was told I couldn't just ask for an assignment; it was determined by ones grades and performance in school.  I got that assignment anyway and, guess what, no hazardous duty pay, no remote duty pay, whatever.  I asked for it and I got it.  Be careful what you ask for.  I am grateful to have had that duty base as I learned a lot while there.  It was an experience I would have never had.

I grew up on a dirt road in Birmingham, Alabama, that intersected a chert/gravel road, obviously a very modest neighborhood.  They were paved by the time I was six or seven so things were looking up.  I had never seen people living in conditions like the people I saw in Izmir, Turkey.  When we had some off time a couple of friends and I would roam around the countryside in an area on the other side of the base.  Conditions in those small villages were like nothing I had ever seen.  We wandered into this one area with dirt streets and only a few structures, when a herd of small screaming children came running out of this building that turned out to be a theater showing a Mickey Mouse cartoon, to see the Americans.  Within a few minutes this fellow showed up with his shiny gray and red, very old rebuilt Massey-Ferguson Tractor.  He was the mayor of this small village and was quite proud of his new/old tractor.  And yes, it was a life changing experience.

Kids Running out to See Us

I was asked which assignments I had that were the most fondest, and which one was my least fondest.  I truthfully cannot remember a least favorite assignment.  When you enter the military you go to Basic Training and everyone is scared to death, mostly because of the unknown.  I saw people just as nervous as I was, but when you work together, everyone makes it.  I loved Basic because of all the different things you are exposed to.  You test yourself and when possible you get to help someone else get their stuff squared away.  Basic is a very competitive place and there's no better feeling than trying to be the best and achieving goals.  At Chanute AFB, I was in the 60th and it was a very strict training squadron.  They demanded perfection and they got it, which helped everyone with discipline and teamwork.  The 60th won Honor Squadron in 64 and again in 65, which was almost an annual event because the 60th was expected to win every year.  I remember the other squadrons called us "Crispy Critters" because we had to maintain creases in our fatigues all day, even for late chow.

Cigli AB in Turkey or Kelly AFB in Texas, were great assignments too.  When I returned home from overseas in the fall of 1966, I went straight to my high school sweethearts house and proposed and we were married the following December 30th and she went to San Antonio, Texas, with me.  We had very little money but managed quite well; newly married people do that I understand.  I wanted to improve out standard of living so I worked part time jobs digging ditches, then at a Phillips 66 gas station, and finally at Waukesha-Pierce Heavy Equipment shop in the daytime and flight line at night.  Jane worked as a radiologist at an Orthopedic Office in downtown San Antonio so now we had money but hardly ever saw each other.  At some point during that time I was assigned as an instructor and examiner of Ground Power Equipment and taught Ground Power use and procedures to flight line personnel.  Newly married and with little money we both worked very hard to get ahead and this December 30th, 2015 will be forty-ninth year.  I have been blessed.

The most important thing I got from the military service was knowing someone had your back.  There would always be someone to help you and you would be there for anyone that needed help.  Working together and raising the bar is important and I appreciate that lesson/experience.  It's a life lesson.  Events in your life are balanced on a razor and can go one-way or another easily.  I remember one time at Cigli AB, Turkey I was putting a clutch in an MJ-1 bomb lift.  I finished it and was pulling it back out on the lot and moving slowly just above idle and the clutch blew up.  It exploded and blew shrapnel everywhere.  I was lucky because I was sitting on the engine compartment.  I never understood what caused that and no amount of reflection could a satisfactory explanation.  It revved up to max RPM and then exploded.

The NCIOC, I wish I could remember that guys name, came running out in the yard, mad as hell and accused me of hot-rodding the thing.  I wasn't and could not begin to think of a way to explain what happened.  Unfortunately, his assumption was reasonable, because of what happened, had I been in his shoes I would have thought the same thing; some idiot popping the clutch on a machine that couldn't do anything but fail, but there was no way I could prove I hadn't done what he suspected; then a SSgt Collins came around the corner and told him he had seen the whole thing and I was not speeding or hot-rodding the lift.  If that didn't convince me of Divine Intervention, nothing ever would.  My whole career could have taken a much different direction had SSgt Collins not been watching me.  Grateful is all I can say.  Something I never forgot and encouraged me to look at situations from a different perspective, something I've remembered since.  More life lessons.

Turkish Countryside

I never achieved any significant awards other than Expert Marksman and I was part of an Outstanding Unit Award wile at Cigli.  They already had one and we were awarded another while I was there.  I remember during an extremely heavy rain storm, dragging an NF-1 light cart and generator with A1C Marshall Brosius, a buddy of mine, in our shop to some outpost across a field in the north forty, at dark thirty in the AM, when we got a call to bring it all back.  For a couple of twenty year old's that was more exciting than dangerous, it didn't seem to be anything outstanding.  They said letters of commendation would likely go in our folders but nothing ever came of it so that was my shining moment.  Likely some minor act of indiscretion negated that letter.

I do admit it was exciting driving that tractor across country dragging light carts and generators, but, then, when you're twenty you are easily excited.  Years later I found a set of orders sending Marshall and me somewhere, can't remember where, but on the orders was Marshall's home address, LeMoyne, PA.  I called directory assistance and asked for Marshall Brosius in LeMoyne, PA, and the lady came back and said, "Honey, Marshall moved over to Harrisburg seven years ago".  I guess Birmingham, Alabama, wasn't the only small town in America in the 60's.  I called and Marshall picked up and we must have talked for hours.  He lives a few miles from our son in Harrisburg so we get to visit at least twice a year and tell the same old lies over and over every time.  Reconnecting with old friends and sharing old stories is part of the fabric of America and the military.  I am grateful for that, Marshall's a good friend.

My most important ribbon/medal was the Good Conduct/Honorable Service Award.  I am getting old now but I still value the Honor, God and Country part of the Military.  I worry about this country and the lack of respect for the history of our nation and Constitution exhibited by some of the population today.  I've been fortunate to have been able to connect with several friends I was in Tech School and overseas with.  I learned something from each of them and sadly probably contributed to a portion of their adolescent delinquency with some of my misguided adventures.  Alcohol could have been involved.

We had a full dress parade at Cigli where everyone participated.  It was very impressive, Company after Company was lined up at Parade Rest, Squadron Guide-Ons in front of each company, and all straight as an arrow.  The Guide-On was standing there with flag at a forty-five degree angle, sun was beating down on everyone as the heat climbed and we sweated, and of course we waited, and waited, and waited.  All of a sudden a little four-year-old Turkish kid came running right out of the stands and whacked this Guide-On right in the, well, as high as the kid could reach (and you know where the kid hit him), and the Guide-On sank to his knees, and then down for the count, face first in the warm Cigli dust.  Squadron flag never touched the ground; teamwork.

There were quite a few people who made an impression upon me while in the service.  I am still friends with several of the people I served with; some have passed away but I still remember them well.  Stewart Ragland, because of his ability to take things in stride.  David L. Stacy, because of his ability to see the best in people around him.  John Thomas, because of his silent nature and ability to do his job in Air/Sea Rescue.  Dennis Gladfelter, because of his quiet, peaceful nature that kept me grounded when I got too hyper (I am a tad Type A, so I tend to get a little Gung-ho over stuff).  Marshall Brosius because he listened when I was pumped up and ready to go before anyone else was, and because he and Douthit and I ran the Turkish Obstacle course one night after spending way too long at the Rod and Gun club.  That was a stupid thing to do but at the time it seemed perfectly normal.  Alcohol could have been involved.


Stewart Ragland
 
John Thomas
 
Sgt. Hopper
 



Dennis Gladfelter
 
Marshall Bosius
 
Dennis & Marshall
 

Marshall and His Wife Kathy

Bruce Rasco
 
Russell Simpson & Sterm
 

The most important person was probably TSgt Saxon in Basic Training at Lackland.  After four or five weeks you are kinda settled in the process and feeling pretty good, "Standing tall and Looking good", I think they said in the movie Stripes.  One morning after chow, he called me to the side and said, "What did you do wrong this morning?" ; no idea what he was talking about, I tried to be a good troop and do everything exactly right, I'm pretty competitive and wanted everything to be perfect.  I was totally speechless.  He said I had left my footlocker unlocked and that's not good.  Security is high on the list of don'ts.  He could have set me back but he didn't.  I guess because I humped it all the time and he knew that; either way I was grateful for that and never forgot it.  A lot of people had a positive affect on my life in the service and I remember them to this day.  I probably sound like a recruiting poster but, it's true for me and likely for many others too.

One of my "not so good ideas" at Cigli:  Cigli AB, Turkey, is located on the opposite side of the Bay of Izmir and it's pretty desolate, desert you could say.  Our shop had basic facilities complete with PSP (perforated steel planking) for the parking yard (slippery as Owl Poop when it rained) and very little covered areas for repair, painting, and cleaning.  We were to have an inspection the next day so several of us were on the wash rack cleaning up the equipment.  It seemed like a good idea to go ahead and top them off with fuel and oil, so when I spilled a little oil on the side of an MD-1 and wiped it up, it shined.  Not bad, looked like we polished it.

I went inside and got the NCOIC and brought him out and showed him my great idea.  Why not wipe them all down with oily rags and they'll look like we just spit-shined everything.  He was a little skeptical, but finally agreed and got everyone to wipe down all the equipment with oily rags and they were shining like a new penny.  I was looking good and standing tall.  That is, until we had a dust storm that night; Cigli AB is surrounded by miles of nothing but rocks, scrub, and dust.  My stock dropped rapidly, so I stayed out of sight and kept my great ideas to myself after that little trick.  At least for a little while.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.


AGE Shop Yard
 
AGE Shop Yard
   

I left the service in July of 1968, actually in 1970 since I had two years of inactive Reserve.  I went to work in a furniture store to supplement my GI Bill while at Jefferson State Junior College.  My plans were to study Psychology.  I worked during the day and went to school at night.  Long hours at school and work were tiring while Jane worked in radiology at Baptist Memorial Hospital.  After a year we were blessed with a son so school was out and I was in the furniture business until we raised and educated the newest member of our family.  I was not going to allow our son to experience the same lack of education and opportunity I had.  Brad graduated and did graduate work at The University of Alabama with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and has worked for Lockheed since.  He and his wife, Allison, have presented us with three most excellent grandchildren, a girl, Caroline, and two boys, Dylan and Max.

A Most Excellent Wife

I spent forty years in the Furniture industry doing everything imaginable from cleaning bathrooms, stocking warehouses, delivering furniture, and sales.  I retired five years ago after a most excellent heart attack.  Heart attacks should be scary but this one gave me some new perspectives, more life lessons.  I have a great physician and he keeps me squared away and doing well.  My wife Jane and I went to the University of Alabama's External Degree program to complete our education and had a great time traveling to England for a class in 18th Century London Urban Society.  Jane excelled in creative writing and won an award at the Alabama Writers Conclave.  My current occupational specialty is reading everyday and deciding if I want to re-up.  I still keep my hair short just in case.

I am a member of Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, NCO Association, Together We Served, and the Air Force Memorial Benefits, and like being surrounded by like thinking individuals.  Very comfortable.  The Rod and Gun Club and NCO club in Turkey were a great place to to in off-hours to sit and have a few brews and unwind; listening to some of the "Old Timers" talk about their experiences in the late 40's and 50's during the Korean Conflict was interesting.  The Air Force was in it infancy back then moving from an Army organization to the new self contained Air Force, and they would talk about the "police action" they called Korea; but they said they never saw many policemen.  We listened and understood, but not like the ones that actually participated.

Listening to these old vets was interesting back then, but as I grow older I now realize that they were telling me they participated in history.  These associations are a great way to keep the flow of knowledge traveling down the line of young recruits much like the oral history of our ancient ancestors.  What amazes me is the commonality of perception between people decades older than we.  To me it seems like the definition of "Like thinking people".

My Military Associations

Discipline, structure and organization are the key to eliminating chaos and achieving goals.  It doesn't matter what the goal is, achieving something, taking a step forward and helping someone beside you to do what they is think impossible, like raising a flagpole.  That is the key to winning. When you help someone achieve a goal you raise the bar and make the sum of the group greater.

Welcome to Turkey

For those who have just joined the Air Force, my best advice is to listen to all the people around you and then sift through the BS.  Most will be helpful; some will tell you what to do and how to do it, and you will see others demonstrating what not to do.  You will know what's right.  Do the right thing and you will not fail.  You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Listen more than you talk.

Situational awareness is taught, and has been, since Julius Caesar.  Roman soldiers as part of there training were taught to be aware of there surrounds, everything from terrain or where were the hills or depressions that could hide a squad or company of men.  how many men they encountered while on patrol and most importantly how to efficiently repeat orders.  When you are excited and trying to relay a message, leaving out one small fact could be disastrous to the reinforcements being sent forward.  Part of their training was observation and retention.  Listen and learn.  These troops were reduced to their lowest common denominator and then built back up with the same goals so they worked as a unit.  So take a good "chewing out" when you deserve it.

Chew, Chew, Chew

Looking back over my military career has been very interesting.  Mostly it has reminded me that so many others made more of a sacrifice than I did, and it makes me wish I could/would have done more.    You can't go back.  I respect the military and what it stands for and I appreciate my country.  I also appreciate the people I was associated with while I served.  I would do it again today.  My mind writes checks that my body can't cash.  The thing I remember most in basic training is "I can!"  As I look back over the different situations I've experienced, the phrase returns, "I can!".  I remember telling people who were experiencing difficulties in some life problem, no matter what happens, you can overcome this; just believe and it will happen.

Smokin on the Deck

Sitting on the deck many years later, pontificating about the past with my son and several of his college buddies is a wonderful experience that many people in other nations will never have.  These young people are the future of the nation and the military.  They will grow up and lead platoon's or become CEO's of companies.  They will become physicians, engineers, or councilors, or they will dig ditches or other mundane work that it takes to maintain this country.  It doesn't matter what they do, they will all contribute in some way.

They will guarantee the safety of the nation and protection of weaker countries around the world for the future.  Sharing ideas, concepts, and mistakes I've made with these people is an honor and a privilege.  Our country is ever evolving and the youth, with our guidance, will lead us into a better world; better yet than the one we have now.  The growth and prosperity of America is predicated upon the youth of today.

*J*

(To see Bruce's photos at "Together We Served", go here.)

(Some more of Bruce's photos.)


CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE:

F-100
 
Flight Line
 
Dennis' F-104

Dennis on Right with TA Cap

Transport Aircraft

Transport Aircraft

John Thomas' Plane


Turkish Merchant Ship
 
Seaside Izmir
 
Seaside Izmir

Seaside Izmir

The Ferry
 
Izmir Beach

Twin Towers