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7394th Munitions Support Sq.


Erhaç, Turkey

Fred Gosnell, CMSgt, Ret.

© 2013 by Author

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I was assigned to 7394th Munitions Support Sq. from Aug 72 to Aug 73 as NCOIC, Munitions Loading Section.  Attached is a picture of our unit patch while I was there.  Our Commander was Col. Oliver Hatfield.  My OIC was Capt. Ronald D. Johnson.  Our unit mascot was Harry the Hog.  It was an interesting assignment.

[Note from webmaster:  Really enthused about Fred's contribution.  This is the first information we've had about the 7394th Munitions Support Sq., TUSLOG Det 93.  Thanks a bunch Fred - hope to have some more "stories" from you about your tour there.]

OK, Fred sent a follow-up on the 7394th Munitions Support Sq., on 12 Oct 2013.  Here's what he had to say:

Erhaç was a remote assignment for the Turkish military as well as a remote tour for us.  It was not a favorite assignment for the Turkish military.  The base was about 15 miles from the town of Malatya.  We were encouraged not to go there.  The terrorist group "Black September" was in the country and in Dec 1972 two operatives from that group were arrested trying to leave the country.  Wikipedia’s notice is per "December 26, Turkey:  Two Black September operatives were arrested trying to leave the country en route for Paris.  Police found explosives, detonators, firing devices, and plastic bombs in their car."

When we would leave the base to go to İnçirlik, there was a large poster with pictures of various individuals on it.  Certain ones would have a large red X over them.  We were told that they were terrorists who had been killed.  When I left in August of 73, the Turks supplied a vehicle with armed guards to escort us half way to İncirlik.

Our unit patch was designed by one of our munitions maintenance technicians.  His first name was Steve and I believe he was from Arkansas.  I don’t remember his last name.

Mail delivery to the Detachment was by NATO "Black Bag", which was basically a Diplomatic Pouch.  The reason being that when the Status of Forces Agreement was made with Turkey, regular mail delivery was not included.  Our mail came on the C-130 that delivered our supplies.  Sometimes there was mail and sometimes not.  A major morale factor.  We had to go to the Tropo site which was further up in the mountains in order to make phone calls home.  That was always an exciting trip. Malatya was farther up the mountan than Erhaç.  In fact, on top of the mountain.]

Life at Erhaç consisted basically of work, eating, and the Club.  As was the case in all the Dets, the chow was excellent and gaining weight a problem.  I was not a Christian at the time, so, like most of the Det, I spent lots of time in the Club.  One of the requirements for anyone going home on leave was for them to bring back as many of the top 40 songs as possible for the jukebox.

Erhaç was a Special Ammunition Site (SAS).  I worked with the Turkish Load Crews as a Load Monitor ensuring they did the required tests on the aircraft before loading the "Special Ammunition" and maintained custody until the aircraft was loaded and the security police took over.  The Turkish Load Crews that I worked with were very good and I never had any problems with them.  Their OIC was Lt. Zeki Zeybek who was very good as well.  He was learning English and when he wanted to get the correct pronunciation of a word he would say to me "Fred, say this word three times for me."  That happened a lot!  Of course whenever I was with them, there were always lots of "çay" breaks.

[Note from Webmaster:  I think we may assume that "Special Ammunition" meant "Nuclear Devices"?]

I’ll tell you about "Harry the Hog" in next installment.

(18 Oct 2013 update from Fred.)

You are correct on what “Special Ammunition” referred to.  Now for "Harry the Hog".

I was returning from leave in late May of 1973 and when I arrived at İncirlik I found the "Sheriff" (NCOIC of Security Police), the NCOIC of Munitions Maintenance, and two other Detachment personnel there.  I assumed they were on a supply run for the Det, but I was totally wrong.

İncirlik had a Gun Club and they would routinely go hunting for wild Turkish boar of which there were plenty.  The Turks, being Muslim, did not eat pork, the hogs being unclean per their religion.  Secondly, the wild hogs rooted up their crops.  They were more than happy for the GI’s to shoot all the hogs they wanted.  So, a member of the Gun Club shot a hog on one of their hunts.  But it was a female and she had several piglets, which they captured.

Next to the radio station at İncirlik they had an enclosure with chickens and ducks in it for the kids to see.  They decided to put the piglets in there as an extra added attraction.

Someone in the Det found out about the piglets and there were several phone calls made to the people who possessed them to try to get one of them as a mascot for Det 93, Home of the Hogs.  They couldn’t make a deal.  So, without our Commander, Col Hatfield’s knowledge, the senior NCO’s decided to kidnap one of the piglets.  It seemed to be a plan that would go off without a hitch.  They had set up a bottle filled with milk with a nipple on it which would be given to the piglet as soon as it was snatched, preventing it from making any noise.  The pignapping was to occur the night of my arrival at İncirlik, at midnight.  We parked the truck a short distance from the enclosure, motor running.  I was a lookout.  The Sheriff and one other went to the enclosure to snatch the piglet.  All was quiet, since nothing happened at that hour at İncirlik.

Well, everything went downhill from there.  As soon as they snatched the pig, he started squealing.  The bottle of milk with the nipple was not something he wanted.  You can imagine how loud that squeal sounded at midnight.  Everybody jumped in the truck, squealing pig and all, and speeded to the building we were staying in.  Fortunately for us, no one evidently heard a thing.  When we got to our quarters, we had to control the piglet somehow.  There was a large cardboard box that we put him in which was fine, but he oinked and snorted the whole night.  That’s all I heard, didn’t sleep a wink.

The next morning we left early hoping to get away before someone noticed that they were one piglet short.  Normally, all vehicles were stopped at the gate and inspected by the SP’s.  When we got to the gate the Sheriff slowed down and just told them we were returning to Det 93 with supplies and they waved us thru, since they knew the Sheriff.  We were far enough away from them and there was enough other noise that they couldn’t hear the oinking and snorting from the piglet.  So off we went with our pignapee.

By the time we got to the Det, the deed had been discovered and they knew immediately where the piglet was.  When we drove in to the Det, Col. Hatfield and the Shirt (First Sergeant) were standing outside with their arms folded with huge grins on their faces. The Col. let us know that the İncirlik Commander had already called, was not happy with what we had done, but acknowledged the success of the mission and was willing, after Col. Hatfield noted the important morale builder this was, for the Det to keep "Harry the Hog".

By the time I left, Harry the Hog weighed about 75 pounds.  You can imagine that he ate really good.  Everybody in the Det would take him a tidbit or two every day.  He was a real bright spot for us at that remote site.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there for Harry the Hog.  Harry continued to gain weight and was over 200 pounds when he escaped from his enclosure.  He was found rooting in the Turkish Commander’s flowers next to the Headquarters and shot by the Turkish guard.  I guess you might say Harry the Hog died with his boots on doing what he liked best, rooting for the tenderest shoots he could find.

I’ve attached a photo of my OIC, Capt. Ronald Johnson, looking toward the mountains where the Malatya Tropo site was located.

(Looking Toward Tropo Site)

I’ll write about some of the people there next time, and about the bird.

27 Dec 2013
New email from Fred today!

Sorry it’s been awhile since I wrote.  Here goes some more on “The Hog”, as Erhac was referred to.

I guess in every small unit many of the people had nick names that they had earned there.  Erhac, or “The Hog”, as it was referred to, was no different.  Those assigned to my Load Monitor Section were "Load Toads". I was the "Senior Load Toad".  There were 3 of us in the section.  We had one logistics person assigned to the Det. He was “Big D” and was responsible to load and unload the C-130’s when they arrived.  The Load Monitor Section’s additional duty was to assist “Big D”.  Unless they had a mechanical problem, the C-130’s left their engines running while we unloaded supplies and loaded empty pallets for return.

We had one personnel specialist assigned who we called “Stuff”.  Our one supply troop was “Squirrel” and he was a little squirrelly at times.  Our one medical technician was “Band-Aid”.  Unfortunately, he committed suicide after returning to the states, assigned to 4th TFW at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC.  Our Orderly Room tech was “Smiddy”.  The NCOIC of the chow hall was “Cookie”.  We had one Italian assigned to the Det and he preferred to be called “The Wop”.  We had some new young troops who arrived that objected to his nickname and complained to the Commander.  So, we had to stop referring to him that way, even though he preferred the nickname.  All of the names were affectionately used, not intended to make fun of anyone.  There were other nicknames, but I just can’t remember them.

We did have one Lt. who was a careless smoker who set fire to his room twice.  Fortunately there was only minor damage.

The picture below was taken the one day it snowed there that year.  Normally, Erhac received a lot more snow.  As a matter of fact, it snowed more in Myrtle Beach, SC, that year where my wife was.  They received 24 inches of snow in February of 1973.

In the picture, the screened in portion of the building on the right was our theater.  The chow hall was the other portion of the building.

Weather permitting, we would have movies about every night.  We had one individual from the munitions maintenance section who ran the projector.  We called him “Birdman”,  because he had a pet bird that was always on his shoulder wherever he went.  When he was running the projector at various times during the film we would hear chirps in the back of the room.  It wasn’t the bird!  One day when “Birdman” was going through the security gate to the munitions maintenance section, the bird fell off his shoulder onto the ground.  The security policeman immediately stepped on the bird killing it.  We assume it was an accident, but frankly weren’t completely sure of that.  "Birdman" was not really the same after that.  He continued to run the projector and show the movies as well as provide a chirp now and then from the back of the room.

As difficult as a short, remote tour can be, it becomes bearable and interesting because of the good people assigned there with you.  I have good memories of my 1 year tour at “The Hog”.  Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Snow at Erhaç.