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First Ankara, Then KARAMURSEL

In the Army in Turkey - 1967-1969

Jerry Moon

© 2003-2014 by Author

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In June,1967, I completed 98C Radio Traffic Analyst training at the Army Security Agency Training Center, Ft. Devens, MA, and got orders for the USASA 15th Field Station (Det 27) located outside Ankara, Turkey.  On my "dream sheet" I had hoped for Germany and blonde frauleins; however, when I stepped from the Boeing 707 at Ankara, Turkey, the strong smell of Turkish cigarettes hit me in the nose and remained with me until the day I left the country.  I remember in Ankara the broad boulevards, Ataturk's Tomb, the Byzantine walls, and the Citadel.  The surrounding countryside, back then, was rolling dirt plains of poor wheat, mud brick villages, and sheep marked with bright daubs of paint.

I encountered my first Honeydew melon at the TUSLOG Detachment 27 dining hall.  As a country boy, I couldn't imagine a melon with green insides being any good!  It was delicious!

The first high-level skill I learned at Det. 27 was to efficiently separate the carbon from the multipart paper created by the Ditty Bops, and to transform the DD173 messages to punched tape and take it to the Communications Center for transmission.

I was at Ankara from July to October 1967 when they closed down that site and moved some of us down to KARAMURSEL, where we became TUSLOG Det. 4-4.  We were assigned to Bldg 513 near the front gate - probably to help us Army guys make a quick escape from the airbase in case things didn't work out!  Our First Sergeant, Rodney, decided he needed to make us into a disciplined Army unit so he had us stand in formation and march around the base.  We were a motley crew, and the hangovers from late nights at the Airmen's Club didn't help.  The good sergeant quickly gave it up as an exercise in futility!  We were sure the Air Force guys were hanging out their windows laughing at us but we all made many friends among the Air Farce Zoomies.

Back up at Ankara Det. 27, there was a large rock by the road which ran from our barracks to the Ops building.  Someone had painted in large letters on that rock the word 'F*ck', and that word would quickly reappear after each time it was cleaned off.  That severely irritated the powers that be.  So, at KARAMURSEL, we placed a large rock in our entry hall and painted 'Fock II' on it in memory of the famous Det. 27 rock.  And so we had a rock for a unit mascot!  My best buddies at Det. 4-4 were Mike Hazelbaker, Ralph Tilney, Doug Lake, and airman Cecil Richardson.  The names of some of the other guys were Cifuni, Belanos, Wisnewski, Dunnam, Bean, Hap, and Lund.  I also recall a Lieutenant Holland and a Major Cima.

We had a favorite cafe about in Yalova, about 17 miles west along the Sea of Marmara, where we would have grilled lamb kebobs, green salads, Turkish french fries, and a glass of Kavaklidere wine, followed with some gummy, rich goats milk ice cream.  I never learned to like the muddy Turkish coffee, the bitter licorice tasting Yen Raki, or the Hepatitis Rings (sesame seed pretzels).

The scenic ferry trip from Yalova to Istanbul was special.  It usually started with a crusty grill cheese sandwich at the dock.  I liked to sit on the upper deck drinking çay (tea) and enjoying the scenery.  Once during a stormy passage, I had to go below and got to watch seasick Turkish women throwing up into clear plastic bags.

Life was mostly quiet and routine at KARAMURSEL, but the September, 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces created a lot of excitement for us Army SIGINT guys!

I left KARAMURSEL in January 1969, but will always carry with me the memories of that special place and special friends.