Being in Elmadağ, Turkey 1973-1974

John Nett

2007-2011 by Author


Click Photos to Enlarge


Elmadağ Power Plant

The Power Plant Guys

Elmadağ Youngster

Power Plant Operator

Woman Carrying Wood


Hiltop Installation

View around Elmadağ

Sgt. Mike Tickle

Part of Tropo System

Street Sweeper in Ankara

From Nov 1973 until Nov 1974 I did a remote tour at Elmadağ, TUSLOG Det 16-2, south of Ankara. I had just left the 24th NORAD Region at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, was 21 years old, and had never been outside the US except Canada.

To say the least, culture shock set in, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. Even though I had been to the base library and researched the country of Turkey, it's history and peoples before I left the US, it still blew me away when I got off that airplane.

I didn't take long to discover that the Turks were a wonderful people. A more hospitable group you would never find.

We were frequently invited to dinner at the house of the "mayor" of the little village at the base of Elmadağ mountain, next to the dump, and next to the school. He had those big sheep- protecting dogs with large spiked collars. We ate lamb and other things cooked on their fire pits. Tons of kids with shaved heads were all around. We would usually give he and his wife butter, whiskey, and cigarettes in return for their hospitality.

Other Turks, (some were Tartar), worked at the Elmadağ site as cooks, housekeepers, etc. In the summer they would take my friends and I fishing to nearby places. I don't remember what kind of fish we caught, but by the time we got it back up to the site and the cooks had it all cooked up and wonderfully spiced, it was great.

The winter at 'Dag could be mild at times or it could be an absolute blizzard. I saw 80 mph winds that were deadly. You couldn't see across the parking lot to the power plant where I worked due to the wind blown snow and ice. Most of the buildings were connected with enclosed steel walkways for protection.

When it was calm, we would throw our tobogans on top of the snow cats and head out. Elmadağ mountain was a great place to ski and tobogan. We'd ski down a few miles and the snow cats would come pick us up and take us back up to the top, to start the process all over.

I understand Elmadağ is now quite the famous ski resort area.

We had two old International Carry-All vehicles. They were NAF (Non Appropriated Fund) items, and we could check them out. We would get the government credit card, pack our stuff, carry 10 extra gallons of gas and head out to the Mediterranean to the south, or to Istanbul and the Bosporus to the northwest. It was great. Driving however could be dangerous and you had to be on your toes as I am sure anyone who reads this knows.

I wish I had seen more of Turkey. I was impressed by the ruins I saw in Istanbul, of old Constantinople.

There were probably 35 or so of us at Elmadağ. It was a Tropo Scatter/Microwave site. I worked in the powerplant as a power production specialist. TSGT Bob Sieber was the NCOIC of power and a better man to work for, and with, you would never find.

The day room got a workout with the pool tables and foosball tables. The bar downstairs got its share of use nightly. I think we all probably drank too much back then... I mean it was a remote unaccompanied tour even though we were close to a city of millions of people.

Some guys had their wives living in apartments in Ankara, they just maintained a room at the site. We had one room in the barracks converted to a small BX. You could get just about anything you needed there.

While there, we adopted an old Turkish sheep dog, you know the type: kinda mean with a big spiked collar. She slept by the front door, greeted people as they came in, and ate wonderfully from the chow hall. She was the only female thing at Elmadağ and we all loved her.

John Nett
Coulee Dam, Washington

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