Ed Kohler recalls Trabzon, Turkey

Ed Kohler

2011 by Author

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I was one of the first group to stay in the new barracks at Trabzon, arriving in late 1959. At that time we had a combined airman-NCO-officer club. One night we were scheduled to have a traveling troupe of belly dancers in for entertainment. As you can imagine the joint was jammed and rocking! Just before the show was to start -- there was a loud banging at the door. When it was opened there stood the commander of the Turkish infantry outfit with which we shared the "joint" base. He demanded that the show be stopped and informed our CO that the building was surrounded on two sides by a heavy weapons platoon which would open fire if we did not obey his request! After some jawing the show was canceled! Seems that the townsfolk had caught wind of our "party" and were convinced that we would get all riled up and rape and pillage the town. There never was another attempt to have female entertainers at the "club" during my year there.  (NOTE from Webmaster:  There WERE later "female entertainers" at Boztepe!)

So we turned our energy into building a softball diamond in the antennae field. The Turks would not let us use their soccer field in town. Trips to town to play there had been reportedly fired upon by local residents with pistols on more than one occasion. As I recall when we finished, right field was about 30 feet below home plate!

Then there was the outing to the monastery of St. Theopastikos (sp?). About 20 of us loaded up in a truck with box lunches for a day at this monastery carved in the side of a mountain. The place was fabulous -- or had been! The Turks had slaughtered the Greek monks and their families and destroyed the place looking for treasure or just for the fun of it! There was an open pit with human bones up there! On the way home we were stoned as we drove through a village and three guys were injured with gashes in the head! Some allies!

But I learned about "Dreamboat" while there and took the 3D program which encouraged trained linguists to stay overseas -- it included automatic A1C stripes and a TDY to Goodfellow with delay enroute authorized -- and spent the next three-plus years flying out of Rhein/Main. Got flight pay to boot! Made SSGT EWQ and then got out.

All in all a very enlightening experience.

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