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A Romanian Linguist from Cornell University
is sent to Turkey in the summer of 1957.

By Charles "Rick" Richter

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Ortaköy, Istanbul, Turkey

My Tour of Duty in Turkey, 1957-1958

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At Cornell

My name is Charles Richter (Rick). I was in the US Air Force Security Service. I was a Romanian Linguist and studied at Cornell University for 7 months along with six others.

Chuck at Cornel
Rick in front of the dormitory. Mennen Hall is a Gothic residence for men.


Exploring the campus:
Nick, Betty, Bwetty and Rick


Skip Wagner
Skip Wagner

Romanian Faculty
The Romanian Instructors (see below)

In the photo, above, are:

Domnul (Mr.) Athanasiu - A refugee who was a former Colonel in the Romanian army.
Domnul Chiacu - A refugee professor from Romania

Doamna (Mrs) Barbura - A former dancer and ballet teacher who taught Romanian culture.

Domnul Manuila - A former factory owner in Romania. He did not speak English. He taught History and Culture. As we learned the language we learned to understand him and his stories grew more complex as we progressed. Just like our Grandpa might have taught us. Of particular note, he maintained an apartment in New York City and I stayed at his apartment when we took our field trip to the Romanian community in new York. All the students stayed with Romanian families. We visited Radio Free Europe and the United Nations to practice our Romanian skills. During our trip I ended up at Madison Square Garden one night at a rally held for support of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. It was a chilling experience watching the Hungarian patriots stream through the Garden with bloodied white flags flying.


Students and Faculty

Our graduation party. The students and faculty at Cornell. I'll name them here for those of you that might visit the site and see someone you know. The stars are members of our class. Of course, Skip Wagner and I are right in the center:

Top row: Ray Posladek, Bob Cronin*,Rudy Pondrak, Anderson, Skip Wagner, Rick Richter, unk, Doamna Barburu, Domnul Athanasiu, Mrs. Solar, Mr Solar, Domnul Manuila, Domnul Chiacu.

Second Row: Smith, unk, Max Broussard*, Mrs. Wagner, Mrs. Richter, Virgiu Kornea. Front Row: Geo. Petrocholis, Longorio, Ludwig, Rene, Clinton Daniels, Epler


We lost Petrocholis along with others on a reconnaissance mission in 1958. "A USAF RB-50 (in early 1958) on a reconnaissance collection mission, flying from Turkey, along the southern border of the Soviet Union, disappeared because of unknown causes. Later, along the same area of operations (also in early 1958), another American aircraft disappeared. No information was released by American authorities on the type of aircraft lost or circumstances for its loss. Air Classics, Jun 2001 by Larson, George A

A Wedding at Cornell in Full Dress Blues!

Wedding in Dress Blues
Mr and Mrs. Richter


You already know what this is!


Tossing the Rice
Tossing the rice.

Wedding Reception

Mr. & Mrs. Richter
Chuck & Gail


Wedding Party

After Cornell we were sent to the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C. for Cryptography training and then were sent to Turkey in the summer of 1957.

Traveling to Turkey

We had no idea where we were going in Turkey. Our orders said Tuslog. We flew out of Charleston, SC to Tripoli, Libya, and finally, Turkey. We ended up on a flight to Crete and then after a few days we were put on a C119 to Ankara. We had to wear parachutes on that flight. Some memorable moments were when the rear door flew open during take off. An officer sitting next to the door calmly got up and reached out to grab the door and closed and latched it. To my surprise, he didn’t get sucked out of the plane. Finally, we landed in a desolate desert-like place on an iron grate runway. For a few minutes!

We were soon on our way to Ankara in a "blue" bus. We were taken to the US billets in Ankara where we were told we would only be there temporarily and that the water is only on for showers from 7 – 9 PM

West to Istanbul

Dependents Assistance Center. On the right it reads "Dependents Assistance Center" and on the left it reads "Dikkat Girmek Yasaktir" (Attention: To go is prohibited."
(Click to enlarge)


In a few days we were on our way to Istanbul in a Turkish bus with a Turkish driver. We took the (Turkiye Cumhurietin No.1) main highway to Istanbul (Kadikoy). It was a hot, dusty bumpy ride over a mostly dirt highway under construction that took us all day. We finally arrived at our destination in Kadikoy. It was an Ottoman Empire general’s summer estate (actually in Bostanci near Fenerbahçe).

If you look closely you can see an antennae on top of the building. We stayed here a few days on the second floor of the building, on cots, until we found permanent housing. We were on per diem in Istanbul for this TUSLOG assignment. There are many memories here. There was a great private beach on the Sea of Marmara. We would swim and snorkel often here. We met Nimet at this beach. She was a Turkish girl who attended The Robert College and was the baby sitter for a Captain and his wife. She spoke English very well and helped us to learn and speak Turkish. As linguists we bought several books and studied hard to learn to speak Turkish. You can’t believe the advantage that gave us in this country. It also helped us to assimilate and learn the culture more than most. Shortly after we arrived the noncoms took up a collection (club fees) to build a members club on the third floor. They put in a bar, tables and chairs, a card room, jukebox, and slot machines. I don’t know how they were able to procure these but it turned out to be a big success. This was a meeting place for personnel traveling through Istanbul. Some guys even brought dates to the club. When it closed in 1958, the proceeds were used to throw a big party at the Hilton Hotel, the newest and most modern hotel in Istanbul. We rented the entire nightclub for dinner and hired class acts from Europe including Apache dancers, Flamenco dancers and circus acts.

Rented House in Kadikoy

Rented House in Kadikoy
Click to enlarge.

Some guys went off to boarding houses in the area but we were really lucky and rented a 2-bedroom house in the area and hired a maid for cleaning and laundry.

Skip Wagner, Jerry Sullivan, Bob Cronin and I stayed here. It was walking distance to headquarters (DAC). We would sometimes cook our own dinners here. I particularly remember a Thanksgiving dinner that we cooked. We bought the chicken from the chicken man who herds the chickens down the street. (And this was a reasonably fashionable street). After selecting the chicken, we took it up to the local butcher who dressed and cleaned the chicken. Since we spoke Turkish, we could do things as the locals would. Then we built a wood fire in the stove in the kitchen and roasted the chicken, taking time out to baste the chicken with wine and sip some along the way. It wasn’t like home but it was American food with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Sile Site

Sile Site

For the first several months of our tour we lived in the Fenerbahçe-Kadikoy area and traveled by bus to the site in Sile to work. I think it took about 4 hours to get there. We worked 8 hours on and 8 hours off for 3 days and then back to Istanbul for 4 days. We liked this type of duty because it gave us plenty of time to tour Turkey and learn the customs and the language.

Road to Sile

The Road to Sile. This picture was taken at a small village on the way to the site.
Click to enlarge.

  Road to Sile #2

Approaching a village on the way to Sile. This picture is of the women working in the field (at left). As is the custom in the country, the men are probably in the village tea house playing backgammon and discussing politics.
Click to enlarge.

Some memorable moments at the Sile site include going wild boar hunting in a weapons carrier, taking cold showers, bunking in a tent, driving the truck to the Turkish base to pick up soup and Ekmek (brown bread) for the Turkish Askeri’s (peasant soldier) dinner. We worked in mobile communication vans at this site on the Black Sea. The Turks guarded the site. The Askeris in the guard shack at the entrance to the secured area as I remember were only allowed one bullet and it was carried in their shirt pocket. But we did have loaded 45s inside the van. Not sure if it was meant for the Russians or us. I don’t have any pictures of Sile for obvious reasons.


After several months at Sile we were suddenly reassigned. Sile was closed. We took up a new assignment at KARAMURSEL. A Naval and Air Force Communications center near Yalova. KARAMURSEL was a newly constructed and fully equipped base with a hospital, AFEX, dormitories and a giant antenna field.

I was disappointed in this new assignment because Skip Wagner and I were preparing to bring our wives over on a tourist visa. Fortunately, we did however get permission to bring them over by agreeing to keep their return ticket on file at the base. And to agree that for security reasons, in the event of an emergency evacuation from Turkey we would be evacuated before dependents were evacuated.

KARAMURSEL Naval Operations
KARAMURSEL Naval Operations.
Click to enlarge.
KARAMURSEL AFEX and Dining Hall. It looks like an antenna field at left.

The Big Commute

We took a small ferry boat that holds about 10 people from this dock every day to the highway and then went by car/bus on to Kadikoy. The trip took about 2 ½ hours each way. We had to make the trip in all kinds of weather and rain.

Grain Boat at the Dock
This is the dock across from KARAMURSEL on the other side of the Sea of Marmara, somewhere near Hereke where the road came near the water. The dock was down a steep hill. The Turks are unloading this little barge of grain. I still remember the great sesame breadsticks they sold near this dock.
Click to Enlarge
Small Ferry Dock
Turkish Dockworkers unloading sacks of grain.
Click to Enlarge>
Nut Orchard
Nut orchard on the way back to the dock.
Click to Enlarge>

Living in Feneryolu

My wife Gail and Skip Wagner’s wife Gretchen joined us in Turkey on a tourist visa. We rented a two flat in a compound owned by a Turkish family. There was also an English couple of the Foreign Service living in a house in the same compound. We lived in an area that I think was called Feneryolu just past Fenerbahçe on the way from Kadikoy. The compound was walking distance to the Dependents Assistance Center.

Clinton Daniels
Clinton Daniels and our dog Nick in the compound.
Click to enlarge.
  Jerry Sullivan and girlfriendJerry Sullivan and his girlfriend in the garden in front of our house.
Click to enlarge.
  Gail waiting for cab.My wife Gail and friends waiting for a taxi outside of our walled apartment.
Click to enlarge.

Waiting for Taxy in Feneryolu
Skip and Jerry waiting for a taxi at the Tramvay stop in Feneryolu.
  The market near our house in Feneryolu.The market near our home in Feneryolu.
Click to enlarge.

Crossing the Bosphorus

Ortaköy, Istanbul, Turkey

We spent a lot of time in Istanbul proper sightseeing and shopping. To get there we had to cross the Bosphorus by ferry because we were located on the Asiatic side of Istanbul and at that time there were no bridges across the Bosphorus. The AFEX was over there of course and the Hilton which was the only modern western hotel. You can see the Hilton on the horizon, just to the right of the Ortaköy mosque, in the picture above. It was there that we could get a milkshake and burger but the milkshake was made of powdered milk and the burgers were really “Turkish” burgers. But it was great R&R for us.

Area Photographs
Click any photo to enlarge.

Car Ferry landing in Uskudar
Car ferry station in Üşkudar.
  Gail on the upper deck.
Gail on the upper deck of the car ferry, with naval ships docked along the Bosphorus. We were allowed to board the ships and take advantage of the PX onboard.
  Our car driver.
Our driver. The car is on the bottom deck. Here we often enjoyed a glass of çay (tea) and a cheese sandwich while we crossed the Bosphorus.
U.S. Navy ships in port; Hilton in background.
U.S. Navy ships in port with the Istanbul Hilton in the background.
  Ferry Commuters
Pedestrian commuters lining up for the docking of the Üşkudar car ferry.
  Car ferry docking on Istanbul side of Bosphorus
Car ferry docking on the Istanbul side of the Bosphorus. Taxis awaiting pedestrian commuters.
Turkish tea house, Kadikoy
Turkish tea house at the Kadikoy foot-ferry dock.
  A glass of tea and a shoe shine on the car ferry
Having a glass of tea and a shine on the upper deck of the car ferry while crossing the Bosphorus. We used the car ferry even when we didn't have a car, because it was less crowded.
  Cars lined up for car ferry in Uskudar
Cars lined up waiting for the car ferry to dock in Üşkudar.
Shopping in the covered bazaar, Istanbul.
Gail and Gretchen shopping at the Kapali Ciarsi Grand Covered bazaar in Istanbul.
  Checking out a Meerschaum pipe at the covered bazaar
Checking out a Turkish Meerschaum pipe in the Capali Ciarsi Covered bazaar.

4th of July - Sea of Marmara 1958
Click any photo to enlarge.

On the 4th of July we all contributed and chartered a small private yacht, actually a converted ferry, for the holiday and went cruising and picnicking on an island in the Sea of Marmara where the water was as clear as one can imagine. Here are some pictures of the group.

Skip Wagner and Gretchen Wagner
Skip Wagner having a sip of rum. Gretchen Wagner is beside him and our record player and a can of Budweiser can be seen on the table in the background.
  Skip Wagner and Jim Lane
Skip Wagner and Jim Lane as we headed away from Fenerbahçe in the morning.
  Gail and I, Nimet and Jerry
Stopping for a swim. My wife Gail and I in the foreground. Our Turkish friend, Nimet Tuna, is on the right and Jerry Sullivan reclining on his girlfriend's lap behind us.
Jerry, Jim, Doug and others cruising.
Cruising along. From left to right: Jerry Sullivan, Jim Lane, Doug and his Turkish girlfriend, her sister, Gail and Nimet.
  Clinton Daniels, Jim and Jerry
Clinton Daniels, Jim and Jerry clowning around.
  Picnicking on one of the islands
Picnicking on one of the islands. Nimet, Rick and Skip.
Holiday picnic: Gail, Nimet, Skip, Jim, Gretchen
Enjoying the holiday picnic. Left to right is Gail, Nimet, Skip, Jim and Gretchen
  Cruising back to Fenerbahçe
Cruising back to Fenerbahçe after a long day of celebration.

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