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Memories of Karamursel, Turkey
1968-1970 and 1972-1975

Turkey from the spouse's point of view. Alice is married to Larry Holeman, USAF (now Retired)
By Alice Holeman, married to Larry Holeman USAF(Ret.)

© 2004-2011 by Author

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Arriving at, and living in Karamursel

My memories of KARAMURSEL are a little different, as they are from the view of a military wife.

I married an airman, Larry Holeman, in June 1968 – he was 20 and I was just short of 18 years old. Three weeks later he left for KARAMURSEL, leaving me behind until we had enough money for me to join him. He saved up enough money to buy an apartment full of furniture for $400.00 from a departing GI, and also took a lease on the apartment. By January he had enough money to pay for half of my round trip ticket on a charter flight back to KARAMURSEL. I met with a family in New York who were at the airport to see their daughter off on the same flight, thus beginning my love affair with Turkey.

I worked at the European Exchange System (EES) the whole time we lived there. I was an office clerk in the manager’s office and took care of the “beyonnami” sales slips to monitor items that might be sold on the black market. These were turned over to the police to watch for excessive purchases or anything else that looked suspicious. For two hours every afternoon I worked the cashiers cage in the BX, to give Zeki his lunch break. We rode the Turkish bus between Yalova and the base, and would often meet each other as Larry was going to work on the swing shift and I was coming home, or he was coming home after a mid and I was just going to work. The bookstore was a daily stop to pick up a copy of the Stars and Stripes. This was good reading on the bus, which made those 17 miles go much faster.

Our rent was $35.00 for the two bedroom apartment. We heated with a Vezuv kerosene heater. We always let it go out at night, so the apartment was like ice the next morning when we would get up. Our water heater in our first apartment was fueled with wood. There was a little door on it that we’d fill with blocks of wood, spray with kerosene and light it. In a short time we’d have very hot water. Our second apartment had a kerosene water heater, and we thought that was the life of convenience. Just turn on the kerosene and let it drip into the fire tank, light it, and hot water! No more carrying wood upstairs. Kerosene was inexpensive, but very hard for a first-termer to afford. In fact, everything was hard for a first-termer to afford. Trips to the commissary were usually limited to $10.00 a payday, with an occasional purchase of milk or bread in between trips. I think we kept the Spam company in business. It could be sliced and fried for sandwiches or broiled with ketchup on it for a main course in place of more expensive meat.

One of our favorite affordable pastimes was the YCC in Yalova. At first movies were free, and later went up to 25 cents each. Other times we would take a dolmus to Termal and walk around on the beautiful garden grounds. On very rare occasions we would go with a friend to the NCO Club and have a real dinner. What a treat! I remember that the weinerschnitzle was $1.60 for the dinner, and it was a plate size piece of meat. Our budget was really stretched for the rest of the month, but we enjoyed it so much.

Leaving Turkey and Returning

When we left Turkey our next stop was back at Medina in San Antonio. Larry got out of the service then, and we returned to Arkansas. After about 18 months of civilian life with a 1 year old, no medical insurance and low pay, the military life didn’t look so bad, so Larry reenlisted. He asked for KARAMURSEL (no problem there!) and we were off again.

Karamursel Revisited

Our second tour in Turkey (1972-1975) truly felt like coming home. We got an apartment in Yalova again, on the third floor, right across the street from the elementary school in the middle of town. We even bought a car.

After a while we moved to trailers so our daughter could have a yard and be around other children. We finally moved to real base housing in the 900 series for our last year there. I did not work full time, but worked the Hallmark card display in the mini-mart beside the BX. Our daughter started Kiddie Kollege there so I spent those 2 hours a day, 3 days a week at the mini-mart. (One of her classmates from Kiddie Kollege was also one of her classmates the year she graduated at San Vito Italy).

I knew many of the Turks from the BX, since I had worked with them when we were there in 1968-69. I remember Mazhar Budak from the BX Office, his brother Maumer who was manager of the Snack Bar, Shevki (Zeki’s brother) and Saleem, the ID checker at the BX. Saleem and his wife Emlai would have us to their house and fix the most delicious food for us. She would have eggplant and other roasted vegetables in olive oil, rice and lamb.

We loved going to the bowling center for cheeseburgers. They just seemed to taste better than anything at the Snack Bar. Does anyone else remember standing in line to go to the movie? If you didn’t get in line about an hour before the movie, it would be sold out and you’d miss it. It would get mighty cold standing out there in the winter wind, waiting for the box office to open. We’d go to the chow hall for holiday meals and appreciated the effort to decorate and make it more festive for the families.

During our time in Turkey we were fortunate to find our church had groups meeting there and we made some wonderful, lifetime friends. Every 3 to 4 years there is a big Church of Christ reunion in Hoxie, Arkansas for anyone who attended the church at KARAMURSEL. Ann and Dan West sponsor this get together, make beds for anyone who wants to stay with them, and cooks wonderful food for us. Their house was always open to us in Turkey, but especially for the young unmarried guys in the barracks.

Our assignments included the two in Turkey, two in San Vito, one in Medina, two in Pensacola, Florida, one at Fort Meade, Maryland.

In 1989 Larry retired from the Air Force after our second assignment at San Vito, Italy. We again live in Arkansas and the years have just flown by for us. We just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. It was truly a wonderful life being an Air Force wife.


Alice's fellow workers at the Base Exchange (BX) - you may recognize a few.
Zeki is 4th from left, and far right above is Mazhar Budak.
If you recognize any and know names, let Alice know!

The KARAMURSEL headquarters building above left, and Yalova
marketplace (above right and below), including Yalova Tin Wares below right.

Our beloved "Commuter Car"(above left). At right above, Mainsite's Chapel Annex on Wednesday night.
Below left, Charades at Dan and Ann West's base housing, New Years Eve, 1969, and at right are some Gypsy kids.

#1 (left to right) daughter Mendy and Larry; #2 Mendy on bike - we had shipped our car to the US so we borrowed bikes
from the Mohorn family.; #3 Mendy age 3 learning to count; #4 Mendy age 4 going to Kiddie Kollege.
She changed so much while we were there.


Holemans' anniversary

Alice and army couple

Alice and Larry at Veterinary hospital

Alice and Mendy at Steak House

Alice and Saleem at BX

Alice and Bop's Taxi

Alice at Base Exchange

Alice by clothing shop, Yalova

Alice at dress shop in Yalova

Alice going to work at KAS Base Exchange

Alice & Princess

Alice on crutches

Alice on pier in Yalova

Alice in Yalova with Princess

The apartment next door to Holemans'

KAS bakery

Beach cafe

Couple with donkey

Hills near KAS

Horse cart

Holeman's houseboy

KARAMURSEL Air Station street

Larry at apartment, Yalova

Larry at bus stop

Larry at waterfront cafe

Larry on apartment balcony

Larry at Termal restaurant

Larry at Termal

Larry in front of KAS

Larry with water jug

Little boy, Yalova

Mendy & Musa

Yalova mosque

Side street, Yalova

Side street, Yalova

Team of oxen

Toilets destined for installation

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