Main Page: The American Military in Turkey at @comcast.net9;                            

Dave R. Mason

SSgt in Turkey
Retired as CMSgt




2015 by Author

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The Red Tile Roofed Building is new.  It sits where the Wavegude Runs were located that fed the 120' Billboards shooting to Elmadag Tropo (Dark Mountain).

The tower in the lower right is the Water Tower.

The Tee-shaped Building is the Radio Facility.  Elmadag Tropo Equipment Room to the far left, Malatya Tropo Equipment Room to the Far Right.  The Center of the Tee includes a 2nd story lookout (Mediterranean cooling tower).  The Dynamo (Flywheel Power Backup) is on the south of the Tee Intersection.

The Tech Control Facility and MUX Room with Microwave Equipment was in the North End of the Tee shaped building.

The Power plant (with the two 150KW Diesel-powered Generators) was the building just accross the parking lot to the north of the Radio (Tee) Building).

The Barracks and Chow Hall were located on the northwest corner of the site (you can still see the foundations).

Funny Story:  In the Spring there was a local crop-duster that used to fly up to the 120' Billboards (flying from the northwest).  We could hear him coming in the baseband audio because his engine noise chattered all across the baseband and affected every channel in the MC-50 Multiplex System on the Elmadag Link.  The crop-duster pilot would roll 90 degrees and fly between the Billboards.  His little plane barely fit between the antennas.

Karatas had the distinction of having the only known Microwave link that experienced fast fade (like a tropo shot) during the peak summer months (when the sun's path crossed close to the Dish to reflector path).  The Microwave RSL would fade slowly then dip quickly and return, then repeat (this lasted about ten to twenty minutes) - it also happened almost every day for about a week.

The Maltya Tropo link was so solid during the winter that we logged the link up with marginal (but useable) success with only the 100-Watt exciters on-line.  This happened twice when we had one (10Kw) Power Amp down and the other died while we were repairing the first.  In fact, during a period when the Folks at Langley were downloading satellite Imagery from Diyarbakir we got a frantic call from Tech Control (at Incirlik) when our only PA died (we had the first one dismantled completely and no-way to get back up sooner than 25-minutes).  I put both 100-Watt Exciters into the PA waveguide feed, adjusted the Line Matching units - and brought the entire link up on-line.  The Satellite imagery passed fine and Tech Contol later called to say thanks.  Malatya confirmed that they had decent RSls as well.

NCMO was all over us - how could we be up with both PAs dead - further, how could we log the link in (I told them we didn't log anything in - we blamed it on tech control.  We just put the exciters on-line to get a useable signal to Malatya Tropo so Diyabakir could get their imagery out).  I also rationalized that the only reason the configuration was working was because the Mux saw the marginal signal quality comming from our site to Malatya, and therefore passed the imagery data over the data line back down the line towards us (not being intelligent enough to know that the data was coming to us on a channel that only had really goor signal level on-way - the signal going back towards Malatya was marginal and noisey, but it worked).

Then DCS Called and wanted to know what we were using for Power Amps and when we would have the link back up (they told me they didn't believe we were up, and absolutely refused to believe we were using the 100-Watt exciters).  DCS accused us of lying (dah - why would I lie and say we were up when we weren't?  Even better, if we were in fact still dead in the water - why was Langley happy with the imagery?  I never got an answer, just a hang up).

We got flack about that one for months.

When the Turks placed a garrison at the site (political SNAFU about the Greek Cypriat incidents).  The Turk "Oscars" (Askeris - enlisted) used to walk accross the waveguide (they actually walked on the waveguide).  When we started experiencing issues with bent waveguide, our genius Commanding Officer started in with them and telling them not to walk on the waveguide.  This didn't work.  He gave all kinds of techical explanations, but the Turkish Captain, and the Turkish NCO didn't believe him and dismissed it all (they didn't like him because he was arrogant and only wishy washy when he wanted something, to make matters worse - he always talked down to them).

I was friends with the Turkish NCO and his Captain.  The Captain asked me if the American Captain was crazy and told me how our Captain was trying to tell him that his Troops were messing up our radios.  I told him we were having problems, and that it appeared that his troops were in fact walking on the waveguide.  He called all the troops out and ordered them not to damage the waveguide.

But in the rainy season they still jumped up onto the waveguide to avoid all the mud when walking out to the gate shack.  The problem continued.  And the feud between the American Captain and Turkish Captain only grew worse.

One morning when I was comming off a mid shift I was in the dinning hall and the Turkish Troops were there, the Turkish NCO was trying to harrass them into staying off the waveguide.  He called me over (Myself and maybe two other Americans actually got along with the Turkish Troops, and they listened to me) I offered an explanation:  I took a glass of water over to the chow hall microwave - put it in and cooked it for 90 seconds.  Then I handed it to one of the troops.  I told him that microwaves heated the water by exciting the water molecules.  This caused the molecules to rub against each other and heat up.  This is why Microwave ovens can cook food so fast.  I tried to explain that the microwave oven had a cavity (using my hands to express dimensions, width, height).  The troop looked concerned and passed the glass around.

Then Gelliel (the Turkish Sergeant) said something about the waveguide being like a microwave cavity.  The Turkish Oscars actually got a terrified look on their faces, and all nodded "yes" they understood.

A few days later I was walking up towards the Radio Building from the barracks and observed three Turkish Troops navigating the waveguide field runs on their way to relieve the gate shack at the gate.  One by one they attempted to literally leap over the waveguide run, and fell in the mud.  One almost landed on the waveguide and through some kind of contortion would up lying in the mud.  This was somewhat comical - they had gone from just jumping up onto the waveguide to literally avoiding them at all costs.

The Troops being relieved at the gate literally repeated the scene while returning to the barracks.

Later I asked Gelliel what was goin on.  He only smiled and told me, "They aren't walking on the Radio Guides anymore."  The Turkish Captain also came over and commented that Gelliel and I had solved the problem.  He told me it was very smart to tell the Turkish Toops they could cook their feet if they walked on the waveguide.

I told him we didn't say that - he replied, "But they think you said that, and they trust you - so they don't want their feet cooked, so they don't walk on the waveguide."  Problem solved  He laughed and said, "No harm.  They don't get their feet cooked, you don't get bent waveguide, and I (the Turkish Captain) don't have to discipline them for not following orders.  Everybody Wins!"

Karatas was an interesting site to work at.

Dave R. Mason
CMSgt Retiree
(SSgt at Karatas).

(Note from Editor:  Karatas was done away with (as far as a U.S. operation) in September, 1976, with the dissolution of TUSLOG, which actually took until 1982 to become final.  The U.S. had an agreement with Turkey allowing the site to continue in "U.S. hands" until 1992 when our government turned it over to Turkey.  The Turkish government assumed responsibility and still uses it for domestic communication with different technology, of course.  (Tower lower right in the attached picture.)


Karatas Tropo-Recent
(Coordinates: 36.6669473N 35.365296E.)
Karatas Tropo in relation to town of
Yemisli, just north of, Karatas.
Karatas Tropo in relation to town of
Karatas, Turkey.

Follow-up from Dave, 31 Jul 2015:

I was originally signed up on the earlier Merhaba Turkey Web site.

My old eMail was

Phoenix Computer Labs has been sold and gone the way of the 486L MEDCOM Tropo Network.

My current eMail is:

I was a Staff Sergeant Assigned to Tuslog Det 187, Karatas. (Aug 1975 through Aug 1976)

I was also assigned to Tuslog Det 113, Erhach. (April 1978 through March 1979.)

I also worked at BATMAN and the FPS-75 Sensor Array.

I am a Retired CMSgt. (I retired in 1997 after 26-years of Military Service.)

Many people think that the ADA on the 486L MEDCOM Site Map is Incirlick AB (Adana, Turkey), but, in fact, it is the Karatas Tropo Gateway Site located just north of Karatas Turkey.  The local Turks referred to it as "Karatas Radar" because of the FRC-75 Billboards that provided the Comm Link to Elmadag Tropo.  There was also the FRC-39 Tropo link providing the comm link to Malatya Tropo and on to Diyarbakir.  The Radio Link to Incirlick AB was via an FRA-90 Microwave Radio ink to Det 16 at Incirlick, Air Base.  We also maintained a Korean War Vintage TRC-24 UHF Radio Link providing Communications to the Yurmatalik Petroleum Port.  (The US ArmyTroops at Yurmatalik.)

I can arrange for some photos from Det 187 via Luke Akemon (another Karatas Vetran - and one who served again at Karatas just before the decommissioning of the 486L MEDCOM Radio Network.)  Luke and I were avid Photography Buffs (and the reason that Karatas had the only Color Photo lab in Turkey in the 1970's) and we took literally photos of every one and every thing, as well as virtually everywhere we went.

Between the two of us we have way too many stories about Turkey.

I myself had way too much fun in Turkey and basically never met a stranger.  I used to give guided tours of Adana to US Military Dependents and Service members that were new to Incirlick Air Base.  I also took humanitarian aide to the two women and guy who were imprisoned in the Adana Jail.  They were young and stupid and got caught with drugs they had purchased in Turkey while there as tourists (dumb idea - but a lot of youths are less than experienced in the world).