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TUSLOG Det 3-2


2014-2017 by Author

(No Email Address Provided)

During February 2014, Fred sent several emails about his tour at RAF Station, Kirknewton, Midlothian, Scotland, UK, and his two tours at TUSLOG Det 3-2 in Samsun, Turkey.  He talks about his USAF assignments, being at Det 3-2, during "living on the economy", and afterwards when everyone moved "up to the hill".  He also has some interesting stories about the Special Service facilities downtown, the "Compound" in Samsun, and about his life after the Air Force.  He gives special recognition to the things he learned while at Samsun, such as the camaraderie of fellow servicemen, and how the life experience aided him afterward future.  The USAFSS unit at Kirknewton was the 6952nd Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM) until 1963, when it became the 6952nd Security Group.

(Fred's original story was posted here on 13 Feb 2014.  He started re-writing the story on 16 Jul 2014.  What follows is his amended "Story".)

PART ONE:  (From Lackland to Scotland)

Over the past year or so, I have visited George Durman's website on Turkey several times and read with particular interest the commentary dealing with Samsun.  I have found it to be a source of new information, a refresher of memories long forgotten, as well as a valuable bridge connecting fragments in my mind that never fully made sense.

While I enjoyed exchanging memories with George, I was a bit reluctant to write "my story" for inclusion on the website.  What interest would others find in the story of a 75-year old?  But George was persistent, and perhaps there will be some value in recounting my experiences.

The two years I spent in Turkey were indeed important, formative years in my life.  They also provided me with the enduring friendship of my former roommate, Larry Lierz, over the past 54 years.

The journey that ended up in taking me to Samsun started in the Spring of 1957.  As I subsequently learned, like many other young men at that time, I had few prospects to choose from as I was finishing high school.  Again, like many of the young men I met in the Air Force, even though I was a good student with very good grades, my economic situation prevented any possibility of pursuing college.  I found myself faced with choosing which branch of the armed forces to sign up for.  I had an uncle who had been in the Navy, so I was predisposed to join that branch of the military; however, there was a very innovative Air Force recruiter in northern New Jersey who came up with the idea of forming a "Buddy Flight" of young men graduating from two regional high schools and having them sent to basic training at Lackland as a group.  Some of my friends convinced me to join that group of close to 30 Seniors from my high school, and that is how I entered the Air Force.

We did indeed stay together for the first phase of basic training, but then we were dispersed.  Eventually two others from that group accompanied me to Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, for Russian language training.  One, however, washed out for psychological reasons, so only two of us from the "Buddy Flight" finished the program.

We were in the last six-month Intensive Russian class at the AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology) at Syracuse University.  After our class graduated, all succeeding classes were for nine months, and many also had a three-month assignment to the NSA at Fort George G. Meade, MD, before overseas deployment.

As our class was coming to a conclusion in April 1958, assignments became known.  There were 8-9 possible assignments for the members of our class.  The custom was to give the valedictorian his choice of assignment and then take everyone by class ranking and rotate through the list of assignments.  The commander made it known that he did not care if people exchanged assignments with each other, but he would not take any individual requests for changes.

I was determined to get to Germany and was prepared to swap with anyone to get that assignment, even if it involved sweetening the pot with cash.  As I remember there were good assignments that had tours of three years, and hardship assignments with tours of one year.  There may have been some 18 month assignments, such as Alaska.  My roommate at the time got an assignment to Alaska, which I think was for 18 months.  Places like Peshawar, Pakistan; Samsun, Turkey; and Trabzon, Turkey, were for one year.

Amazingly, David Pfost, the other member of the "Buddy Blight" who finished the language program, and I both drew three-year assignments to Kirknewton, Scotland, as did Larry Lierz, my close friend of over 50 years.  Everyone told me how lucky I was going to such a plum assignment that I reconsidered and did not attempt to swap to get to go to Germany.

When we finally arrived at Operations in Scotland, we found that they had more than enough Russian linguists to man their positions.  We new guys were not needed.  So they reassigned us to other career jobs for cross training.  Some of our guys got to ride "side saddle" with the Morse Code guys and got their asses kicked on a daily basis.  Larry and I got assigned to the Reporting Section.  Why, I do not know, but that was the luck of the draw.  Larry typed, but I did not.  So the first set of Mids there (they worked 7 on and 3 off at that time), the Airman who did most of the work sat me down and taught me to type the correct way.  I will always be indebted to him for the excellent instruction because it served me well in later life.  Mids were not the busy shift, so this Airman gave me all of the typing on the key punch machines.  At the end of that session of Mids, I had two sore pinkies but I knew how to type!

(USAFSS Kirknewton, Scotland, Patch.)

About three months passed and I was fairly happy with the assignment.  The pubs and the dance halls in Edinburgh were new experiences for me, and I fully enjoyed the beer and the girls.  I am convinced that if I had stayed in Scotland for the three years, I would have wound up married to one of the local girls before the end of the tour.

However, at that point an urgent call came in for Russian linguists in Turkey.  The authorities asked for volunteers, but no one stepped forward.  So they just reassigned all of us, except for a couple of guys who seemed to have connections and managed to stay there in Scotland.  Something like half went to Trabzon, like David Pfost, the last member of my original "Buddy Flight," and the other half to Samsun.  Larry and I wound up going to Samsun.

PART TWO:  (In Samsun -- Work Assignment, Turkish Baths, Pavyons, The Compound, etc.)

After looking back, it seems that the Air Force did not have a very good system for anticipating requirements and planning assignments according.

We were pulled out of Scotland to fill an urgent need for Russian linguists at Samsun; However, once we got to check into operations, we learned that they did not need all of the linguists they received.  An NCO saw that Larry and I had worked in Reporting in Scotland and decided to assign us to that job since the reporter was soon leaving without a replacement.  No replacement ever arrived for well over a year!  So much for honing our Russian skills after all of that valuable training at Syracuse!!  But my newly-acquired typing skills did come in handy, beating away at six-ply carbon paper on one of those antiquated Underwood mill, that is ALL CAPITALS, typewriters.

So we wound up working a modified shift, coming in midway through the Swing Shift to start sorting everything from the Day Shift and then compiling the various end of Radio Day Deports.  We usually left halfway through the Mids Shift.  Of course, there were times when some sort of operation was being conducted and we had so much work that we stayed long after the Day Shift had checked in for duty.

Our schedule or shift was dictated by the reporting requirements, so we were not assigned to any Trick but rather worked with all of them as they rotated and we remained stable.  As I remember, we were on good terms with all of the Tricks and got included in many of their activities.  I think when we moved up to the barracks, we lived with Able Trick.

When I arrived in Samsun, I found some members of my Russian class from Syracuse there on the downside of their original assignment.  One, I believe his name was John Ebbinger, a very tall guy from the upper Midwest who loved hunting, told me that some people from the house where he lived were leaving soon, so I wound up buying into the house.  Larry Lierz arrived close to a week after I did because of some delay in processing in Karamursel.  He also bought into the same house where we lived until we were forced to move into the new barracks up on the hill.

I remember going to the Turkish bath, the Hamam, in Samsun several times.  It was a wonderful experience, one that left me feeling so clean and fresh that I still remember it quite clearly.  We would strip and then have a towel to put around our private parts.  After sitting and sweating for quite a while, an attendant would come and with a slightly abrasive glove or hand covering wash and rub my body down.  It seemed like a whole layer of skin was removed by that scrubbing, leaving a clean, almost pristine layer behind.  After that was finished, and after a short rest period, I remember being rinsed off and then moved to a cooler spot.  Then I would be served a bottle of soft drink (the word Gazoz comes to mind) to replace some of the body fluids lost.  When I left the building, I felt clean and fresh and light as a feather.

[Note from George Durman, the webmaster:  Gazoz was a fizzy soft drink similar to a very weak 7-Up.  When we were there it came in only one flavor, lemon-lime.  It was/is the national, native, soft drink.  Now, there are many, many different fruit flavors.]

The "Hamam" experience left me somewhat weak for a while.  Once, after exiting the bath, I recall seeing one of the Air Force vehicles, or shuttles, passing by right as I exited.  I yelled, but could not get its attention.  Since it was not going very fast, I thought I could run to catch up with it.  I took a couple of steps and soon realized that the sweating had left me a bit weaker for the time being and that I was in no condition to run.  I finally hailed a passing horse carriage and for a nominal fee got taken back to my home.

I do not recall reading anything about this following subject (The Compound).  Perhaps even after all these years, some may not feel comfortable about discussing it; however, it was a part of our life and experience in Samsun and, therefore, I will write my recollections and impressions.

It seems to me that we were all basically rather young when we arrived at Samsun, at the very end of our teen years.  No matter how we might have bragged and boasted of our exploits and experiences, I always though it was more braggadocio than any reflection of reality.

Despite the fact that I was from part of the supposed urban and sophisticated East Coast, as some of my companions viewed it, I was just as naive and inexperienced as any farm boy from the heartland.  I can not remember exactly how long I was in Samsun before one of the "old timers" took me to the "Pound", but I do remember the experience.  As you will recall, the "Pound" was a shortened version of the word "Compound" ("Kampane" in Turkish) because the area was enclosed and had an entrance monitored by Turkish military sentries.  Yes, I had read about bordellos, but I had never seen anything like this in my 19 years of life.  I walked around and looked at everything like a student in a museum.  As I remember, I was scared to avail myself of any of the services during the time of that first visit.

[Note from webmaster George:  We G.I.s called the women's prison/brothel "The Compound".  You can read one person's fascinating story about the "Compound" in Izmir here.  It's a post by someone calling his blog "Mighty Macbuddah's McBlog".  Cem "Jim" Ozmeral (see the link to him on the home page), who was born and grew up in Istanbul, and now lives in America, says the actual name of the place was "Kerhane", which means "brothel", and the women there were NOT serving sentences.  They were there because they were earning a living.  Cem believes "Kerhane" may be a degeneration of the term "kar hane", which means "profit house".  I really believe that Cem attempts to lessen the socio/economic/legal aspects of the "Kerhanes", and that they were, in fact, places for women to serve as prostitutes, and pay off their debts to society.  Sorry Cem.]

The whole situation was quite interesting from a cultural, as well as sociological view.  The experience of being frisked and searched by a sentry (Turkish soldier) before being allowed to enter the compound was something new and unique, as was the idea of having a woman sentenced to sexual servitude for anything from petty crime, to personal debt, to paying off the debt of a family member, etc.  Or at least that is how it was explained to me.  Again, as I remember it, I was told that any woman who had committed a serious, violent crime was sentenced to a real jail, if not execution.  The impression I received and retain to this day, which may or may not be accurate, is that these women were more victims of life's unjust circumstances rather being than any sort of criminals.

From what I believe are accurate recollections, I am convinced that the Airmen of Det 3-2 must have contributed significantly to helping those women pay off their debts and liberating many from their servitude!

When we originally moved into the house in town, there was one person who took care of converting dollars into Turkish currency.  This "black market" activity was a crime, but everyone did it.  This airman, his name was Tom if I remember correctly, never got caught for the currency exchanges but had been arrested for making a gift of some used socks to a Turk.  Since they had been brought into the country without paying import duties, this was illegal, and he was not allowed to leave the country until this matter had been resolved.  I cannot remember just how long he had been on hold, but his rotation date had come and gone long before my arrival.  Somehow things got resolved and he left the country rather suddenly before our move into the barracks.  (See George's "Story" about "Tom", and the illegal money "black market".)

One of the social activities most of the airmen engaged in from time to time was to frequent one of the Pavyons or nightclubs in Samsun.  As I remember, there would be belly dancers and Turkish music, some of which was of rather good quality.  I had been warned early on about the practice of "bowling", i.e. having a female nightclub employee come and sit at a table with you and have you order "bowls" of drink for her.  The drink was almost nonalcoholic, usually tea, sometimes with a little Vermouth in it, but the cost was very high.  One was in fact paying for the company of the woman and the pleasure of being able to talk to her in English.  I never succumbed.

In the latter part of my tour of duty, I was in one of the clubs and saw two newly arrived Airmen falling for the "bowling".  I went over and warned them about what was happening, but they would not listen.  Later when the bill arrived, they did not have the money to cover the cost.  Since it was known that I was an American, even though I was in civilian clothes and they were in Class A uniforms, I was detained and told I had to pay the bill.  The situation was quite tense for a while, and there was the flash of a knife, before I finally gave in and paid the Airmen's bill.  They did repay me, but the irony still strikes me:  After two years in Samsun without any such incident on my own, I wound up in jeopardy because of some dumb "ditty boppers" who would not listen to wise advice!!

PART THREE:  (Downtown -- Recreation, Open-Air Movies, Gulan the Bear, Class VI Store, the Beach, Jellyfish.)

There was a large piece of property in the city of Samsun which I assumed was on lease to the Air Force.  It was conveniently located near where most of us lived, so we could access it by taking a short walk.  It was the fiefdom of Special Services and was under the management of several members of that specialty; however, one local Turk seemed to be in charge of the day-to-day operations.  I recall a name that sounds something like "Mengooch".  Weather permitting, we would assemble there at night under the stars and watch whatever movies had been sent for our entertainment.

Early on after arriving at Samsun, I remember going to a movie at the theater area that had me experiencing nightmares for quite some time.  It was, I believe, a movie from the mid-50's called "Mau Mau".  I can still remember quite vividly having dreams of black snakes attacking me.  While I can not point out any other movie in particular, I do have the feeling that I spent lots of evenings there watching movies.

One of the surprise attractions to newly arrived airmen was a bear (Ed Note:  The Bear's name was Gulan.) that was chained to a post.  As I recall, the bear had some type of muzzle on its snout to prevent any possibility of biting.  About all I can say about the bear is that I remember it and that the story was that it had been trained by an old Gypsy who supposedly sold or abandoned it when it got too old to perform.  I remember many of the GIs would "wrestle" with it, so it must have been quite tame.  Even if the smell had not turned me off, I do not think I would ever have had the courage to make such an attempt.

The theater area was more than just an outdoor movie house as I remember.  The Special Services people had installed under a big pavilion ping pong tables, pool tables, free weights, and I believe tables for other types of activities and crafts.  Outside there were some horseshoe pits, exercise bars, and what I always called monkey bars, a basketball court, and, quite possibly, other games I can not remember.

My buddy, Larry, remembers a building near, or on the same property, where we could go inside and play card games.  He called them REAL card games.  Guys would bet more on one card than they would spend on a week's beer and cigarettes.

One of the "Special Services" guys that Larry remembers was a Staff Sergeant.  He was a real boozer.  When we moved to the new facility on base, he lived in our building.  Each night before going to sleep, he would take an empty quart bottle.  He would fill it half full of water.  Then, he would finish filling the bottle with Old Granddad whisky.  Each morning, before arising from bed, he would swig down a half bottle of liquid.  That amounted to 1/4 of a quart of whiskey before he got out of bed!

I also remember this individual, but I remember him as being in the APs, i.e. the Air Police.  I also remember going through the lunch line after we had moved on base and following him to get my food.  He had picked up a bowl of Russian salad dressing, thinking it was soup.  The man ate it without blinking an eye.  When I asked him how it was, I believe he said something to the effect that it was a bit salty.  The years of alcohol had killed most of his taste buds!

While they were not legion, there were many NCO's in the Air Force, and the other branches of the Armed Forces, who were obviously alcoholics.  They stayed in for the cheap drinks at the clubs as well as the extremely low Class VI prices for hard liquor, something they would never have been able to afford in civilian life.  I often wondered whether the military services created many of these alcoholics, or merely served as enablers for their addiction.

But, back to the Special Services facility.  They also had some beach equipment there.  I can remember at some point taking a Special Services truck to a beach on the Black Sea and swimming there.  The beach and the water, as I remember, were fantastic, and you could walk out well over 100 yards without having the water reach your head. But it was a real obstacle course because of all of the jelly fish.  I remember many people getting burned by the jelly fish, but nothing serious enough to require medical attention, but my buddy, Larry, has the following memory.

Joe was the name of a 292 kid from Pennsylvania that pulled Larry out of the Black Sea.  Some jelly fish had surrounded Larry and he had become disoriented.  He remembers drifting out to sea and then yelling for help.  This fellow swam out, grabbed Larry, told him to lie quietly or he would knock him out.  This Joe was a great swimmer, and they got to shore in a hurry.  Larry has never forgotten him and often wonders if life has been good to him.  (Larry's second son is named Joseph Frederick.)

The following memory is one that has persisted with me for over 55 years.  It has been brought to the fore frequently over the years with the recurring hatreds and hostilities that crop up repeatedly in the Middle East.

After processing through Karamursel, I was taken to the docks in Istanbul and given a ticket for a Black Sea ship.  I remember spending a night on the vessel, so it must have taken at least a day and a half to get to Samsun.  Once in Samsun, I had been instructed to go to a certain hotel on the waterfront and to wait for a vehicle the next morning to take me to the base.  It showed up and I got on.  I recall my fascination with the view while winding back and forth as we weaved our way up to the top of the hill where the base was located.  Along the way, I saw many people walking and going about their daily activities.  What especially caught my attention, and my interest, was a group of women dressed in long black robes with black veils across their faces and black cloths covering their heads.  My first impression was that I was seeing a group of nuns going to Mass.  That impressions was soon dispelled.  The women turned toward us when they saw the truck full of Americans and made the sign of the cross with the index fingers of both hands and proceeded to spit on them.  This was the first display I ever encountered of not only anti-Americanism, but also of hostility toward, and hatred for, Christians.  It is an image that remains quite vivid in my mind despite the over 50   years since its occurrence. Unfortunately, such religious hostilities and hatreds still exist in this world.  [Editor:  What Fred saw was a group of "peasant" women, who had been taught to despise foreigners.  Their actions were, in no way, indicative of the general feelings of the urban population's feelings toward Americans.  They were the uneducated, brain-washed, fanatical people of Islam, whom we see every day now in the Mid East.  They were/are a minority in Turkey, but their beliefs mirror those of ISIS/IL in Iraq/Iran/Syria.]

PART FOUR:  (Duties, Tour Extension, Promotion, Fate and the Future.)

Fate has a way of playing tricks on us mere mortals!  My enviable three-year assignment to Kirknewton Air Base in Scotland was never to be completed, and my forced reassignment to Samsun, Turkey, turned out to be the defining factor in the course my life took.

As I mentioned, Larry and I got put into reporting rather than sitting an intercept position upon our arrival at Samsun.  The NCOIC of reporting latched on to us because of our experience in Scotland, and that became our permanent job for most of our almost two years in Samsun.

Living on the economy in Samsun and having some extra money in my pocket was a wonderful experience for me.  While I never starved when I was growing up, I can tell you I came from a very impoverished background and never had any financial security until I entered the Air Force.  After a few months at Samsun, I decided that I would put in for a one-year extension to get my third stripe.  I had it all planned out.  I would extend, get the promotion, then return to Advanced Russian in Syracuse at the end of the tour, and then quite possibly get that much desired assignment to Germany.  I fully intended to spend at least 20 years in the Air Force.  There were no prospects for me on the outside, and I was naive or just ignorant of the civilian possibilities at that stage of my life.

Well, when the time came to cement the deal with my promotion, and that of Larry as well, a bureaucratic glitch developed.  I had no idea what a "five level" was, but it turned out that I would have to have one in order to get promoted.  One could be assigned a five-level back in those days on the basis of on-the-job experience or a five-level test.  The people in Scotland never initiated, or rather documented, the OJT (On the Job Training) period for us, so we could not get a five level awarded that way.  Everyone scrambled to get a test ready in that remote outpost, and one did get administered, but without any preparation for those of us who had to take it.  Most of us who took the test without any preparation failed.  As I remember, a couple of people did in fact pass.  So without the five level we could not be promoted and since that part of the contract could not be fulfilled, we were given the option not to stay for the extra year.

For a variety of personal reasons, a major one being the money we were getting while living on the economy, we decided to stay for the year extension even though we could not be promoted.  I still thought that my other plans could still be worked out with respect to future training and assignments as well as a long career in the Air Force.

As the saying goes, "the best laid plans of mice and men....."  Lo and behold, the days of living on the economy and getting that extra money soon came to an abrupt end for us with the completion of the base facilities and our forced move into barracks.  I/we felt doubly screwed:  No promotion and no extra money.

Then an even greater tragedy befell me.  This is where Ron Locker, an Airman who had been in Samsun for quite some time, comes into the story.  Ron spoke good Turkish and had made many Turkish friends in Samsun.  He was a large, black man who was easily recognized.  It seemed that any place I went with him in Samsun, we encountered people who knew him by name.

One evening a 292 by the name of Bill Pittman and I accompanied Ron downtown for a couple of beers.  When we got back to base, Ron wanted to go to the mess hall for something to eat.  It was change of trick time, so meals were being served.  It was a common practice for guys to stop in for something to eat like that, either after a trip downtown or merely a late evening at the Airmen's Club.  By the luck or unluck of the draw, that evening the sergeant who was on mess check was a southern racist who could never hide his dislike for blacks, in general, or his particular hatred for Ron.  The only name that comes to mind is "Charlie Brown", which may have been a nickname.  He told us we could not eat, first because we were not on duty, and second because we were not in uniform.  There were others eating under the same conditions, so it was in fact determined by his hatred for Ron.  They argued and I mumbled something to the effect that I was going to get a box of corn flakes.

The next day the three of us had orders to report to the commanding officer in Class A uniforms.  The sergeant had brought charges against us and we were summarily given an Article 15 and punished with a reduction in rank.  The orders detailing this action were dated 9 July 1959.

This action changed the course of my life for good in that any previous desire to remain in the Air Force for a career was totally destroyed.

It took a while, but in April-May 1960 we got our first visit by an IG (Inspector General) team.  Apparently from the rumors, there had been many complaints about Samsun and an IG Inspection was ordered.  I got into my Class A uniform and went to see the Major with my story.  He had a Master Sergeant with him, a sharp, black man.  He, as I remember it, asked most of the questions and seemed well informed about the incident involving my reduction in rank.

The end of May 1960 I got my stripe back.  So after two years overseas, I was finally back to where I started!!  Ron had already left Samsun, so there was no corrective action applied to him.  I believe Pittman also had already departed the post, so I was the only one who benefited, if that is the correct word to use, from this IG Inspection.  But that was too late to cause any change of mind on my part.

I later learned that a 292 by the name of Skip Bossette, a very intelligent black airman from Chicago had played a major role in lodging a complaint about what had befallen us and the racist nature of the affair, thus helping to bring the IG Inspection to Samsun.  In the mid-1960's, when I was living in Washington, D.C., and working for the Department of Defense, I got to speak to Skip via telephone and thanked him for his role in righting what I considered a grave injustice.  At that time, Skip was working for a publication of the Nation of Islam in Chicago.

Now if you will indulge me for a moment while I express some philosophical and possibly religious ponderings.

Many dwell on the past and harbor great resentments for events and people involved with those events.  There is nothing to be gained by that.  The past is just that, the past, and no one can do anything to change it.  That does not mean it should be forgotten; it should be remembered with a view toward learning lessons that can be applied to the present and the future.

Many people also think that everything that happens is for a reason and, in a sense, possibly predetermined.  I can neither fully embrace nor reject that possibility, but must remain agnostic.  I can, however, recognize that each one of the events that took place in this period of my life led me to where I am today.  If I had gone to Germany rather than Scotland, I would not be who or where I am today; if I had remained in Scotland for the full three-year tour of duty, who knows what would have happened to me; if I had been shipped to Trabzon rather than Samsun, the same conclusion; if I had gotten my stripe along with the extension, who knows what or where I would be today; and if I had not experienced that reduction in rank, I most likely never would have had the work and life experiences I had up to my retirement.

PART FIVE:  (The 203 AFSC -- The Greatest Fraternity!)


Looking back over the years at my experiences in Samsun, I am constantly impressed with the caliber of the young men assigned there who were awarded the AFSC 203 (Air Force Specialty Code).

All of us who entered the Air Force back in the late 1950's went through a battery of testing at the "Green Monster" at Lackland and got filtered and channeled into various career fields.  I always believed that the intellectual cream of all of those recruits rose to the top and were assigned to language school and became 203's.

That may sound egotistical on my part, but believe me I do not mean it to be.  While I was always a good student in school throughout my graduation from high school, everyone I encountered in language school and overseas in the 203 career field was of superior intellect.  We were called odd, weird, crazy, and all sorts of names, but what the group was in general was extremely bright, intellectual, and deep thinkers.

This struck me early on after my arrival in Samsun.  Many of the 203's had a year or two of college and were people who fascinated me with their intelligence and learning.  So many were indeed better educated and much smarter than I was.  I can still remember my impression of one, Dick Curnow, as being one of the wittiest and smartest people I had ever met.  There was another 203, someone from the Boston area by the name of Garth McGill, if memory serves, who impressed me with his education and intellect and deep philosophic thoughts.  There were many others who in retrospect contributed to the creation of what I would now call a graduate level seminar atmosphere.

The card games, drinking gatherings, and just plain bull sessions were an educational experience for me.  While some of these gatherings took place while we were still living on the Turkish economy down in Samsun, most took place in the barracks after we moved on base.  Not only did I learn from the conversations, but I started to read books mentioned and discussed that I never would have stumbled upon on my own.  My time in Samsun with the 203's was an educational experience that I acknowledge to this day.

After my tour with the USAF, when I enrolled in college, I found myself to be better prepared for the rigors of university studies precisely because of the educational experiences I had received while in Samsun.  I must say that when I was approached and asked to join several fraternities, I thanked them for their kind offers but told them that I was basically beyond that stage.  I had participated in one of the greatest fraternity experiences possible while in the Air Force at Samsun.

While my experiences in Samsun may have shattered my plans for a career in the military, it gave me something much more valuable and enduring:  A desire to learn, to improve myself intellectually, and, yes, to pursue knowledge.  Yes, before going to Samsun I may have had an idea about going to college some day when finances permitted; however, the experiences I had, primarily with a fantastic group of 203's, provided the added incentive and what I have often described as the thirst and hunger for education.

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