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Mary Stillman

Chief of the Education & Libraries Division, TUSLOG

01 Jan 1960 - 01 Jul 1963

2014 by Author

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(NOTE from Webmaster: Mary emailed me and offered to tell her story here. I'm going to add installments as she sends them - they will be dated.  I'm certain her stories will be interesting since she was all over Turkey.)

(01 Jan 2014)
My name is Mary E. Stillman.  I was a Department of the Air Force civilian and served as Chief of the Education & Libraries Division, DSC/P, from January 1, 1960, until July 1, 1963.  My travels took me to almost all detachments throughout Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.  I was one the first persons to be assigned to HQ, TUSLOG, when it was moved to Ankara from Wheelus AB in Tripoli, Libya.  I was in Ankara for the coup d'etat which removed Prime Minister Menderes from office.  I was also there during several subsequent failed coups.

(05 Jan 2014>
I decided to start with the Coup of 1960 because our efforts were greatly hamper by the conditions following it.  Actually there was a series of attempted coups which followed.  Some were outside of Ankara and another three that I can recall in Ankara.  During one, we watched Turkish troops crawling through our back yard down the hill toward the target and then aircraft strafing them (the aircraft could have been F-86s).  They came so close to our building that we could read the marking on the aircraft.

I arrived in Ankara the day before New Year's Day to become the Chief of the Education & Libraries Division of TUSLOG.  Its Headquarters were housed in an newly constructed hotel on Mihat Pashsa Caddesi.  Most personnel transferred from Wheelus AB to open the Headquarters in Fall 1959 were in the process of returning to the Zone of the Interior (ZI=USA) and replacements were arriving daily.  The attention of personnel was focused on leaving or finding housing on the local economy because the Air Force provided housing only for airmen ineligible for a housing allowance.

Housing was plentiful but not exactly what one would prefer or could afford with a single housing allowance.  It was almost entirely apartment-style living.  Elevators were a rarity, but four-story and higher apartments were common.  A typical apartment had unsealed terrazzo floors and water-based wall paint resulting in a continuous coating of dust.  Very few had closets.  Standing water toilets were also scarce (there were plenty of "bombsight" toilets, though) and water outages were commonplace.  Local water was unsafe to drink and purified water needed to be security delivered daily.  The only furnishing available from unit supply was cots.  Appliances were available at the Base Exchange but often out-of-stock.  After several weeks, all authorized manpower was on board and housed and we settled down to deal with work.

TUSLOG is the acronym for The United States Logistic Group, a hodge-podge of military and non-military government units scattered throughout the Middle East (and one in North Africa).  The largest number were in Turkey, but the entire group spanned Greece, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Eritrea.  The primary military mission was the "secret" but rather obvious mission of monitoring Russian activities in the area during the Cold War.  There were also numerous missions relating to training indigenous troops in the use of American-provided military assets; and finally, the USAFE-supervised units tasked with providing logistic support to all American government activities in the region.

It is my understanding that we used the cover name, "TUSLOG", as an accommodation to Turkish nationalism.  Under the Ottomans, basic regional services such as transportation, communications, and education had been outsourced to European nationals.  Once Ataturk had taken control, there was a deep purge of all foreign-controlled activities and a persistent resistance to anything remotely signaling foreign control or intervention.  The constitution was rewritten to either ban these activities or assure Turkish control of them.  That even included the Boy Scouts because they had raised funds in support of the Ottomans during the revolution.  To have foreign military forces appear to be resident or in control in Turkey would been impossible for the Turks to accept.  The for this problem.  (NOTE from Webmaster: Go here to read about the history of TUSLOG.

The Military Coup of 1960 and Its Immediate Effects Upon TUSLOG

In the Spring of 1960, as the weather in Ankara became more suitable for outdoor activities, rumors of discontent with the Menderes government and student demonstrations surfaced.  Several rooms in the headquarters building looked onto a street leading to Ankara University.  As the demonstrations intensified and curiosity about these events grew, field glasses were procured so that we could better observed witness them.  Mounted police provided crowd control and from time to time we could see the horses rear up on their hind legs throwing the rider.  We were told that the students affixed pins in the end of sticks and then jabbed them into the horses' flanks.

As part of our initial orientation, and frequently thereafter, we were cautioned to avoid discussion of politics or religion with the Turkish people.  We had no reliable source of news, local, or world.  There was no Armed Forces Radio, no Stars & Stripes, no TV nothing.  The Embassy published a translation of selected news articles appearing in the Turkish press but they were mostly press releases on American aid projects.  The Turkish newspapers, although not published in tabloid format, did have a definite resemblance to tabloids in content.  Time and Newsweek were readily available on local newsstands but they had minimal content about Turkey submitted by stringers.  If ignorance was bliss, we had achieved Nirvana.

On May 17, 1960, the coup d'etat finally arrived.  I had rented an apartment on a hill about one block above the Parliament Building and the National Police Headquarters.  Those, together with the radio station, were the prime targets of this and subsequent coups.  What a grandstand seat!  As I glanced out a bedroom window early that morning, I saw tank after tank rolling down Ataturk Boulevard.  I thought it was yet another Turkish national holiday celebration and thought little of it.  Shortly thereafter, our landlord, came to our door and told us that there was a coup in progress and to remain inside.  In late afternoon, a sergeant from Det 30 and came to tell us we were restricted to quarters until further notice.  That evening, Turkish Army personnel, riding in clearly marked American military vehicles "liberated" from the JUSMMAT motor pool, cruised the streets shooting rifles into the air in celebration of it victory.  The Turks proclaimed it a bloodless coup but that seemed rather odd knowing the fighting spirit of the Turkish Army.  They had been our staunch ally there and we know for the ferocity and tenacity.

The next morning we were notified to report for duty.  Lt. Colonel Wilma Rogers, Deputy Chief of Staff/Personnel, assembled us and directed us to map the location of the residences of all personnel in our Directorate and implement an in-person notification system for future use.  Americans and most Turks had no telephones in their residences.  Door-to-door notifications was the only option we had.  We were told that the entire country was under Turkish martial law and a dark to dawn curfew was in effect.  Military guards stationed at every street corner to enforce the rule.  That shut down all recreational activities and classes indefinitely.  We also prepared bug-out bags with basic clothing, medicines, travelers checks or cash, and anything we might need while being evacuated.

Communiques from the Turkish military government were issued almost daily and distributed to us.  At times, the meaning was lost in translation and trying to figure what was changed and what was rescinded was a challenge to us and our translators.  After several months, the curfew was lifted and our evening recreational and educational activities resumed.  Meanwhile the Turkish groups began working on a new constitution and an deep purge of military, government, and civilian "enemies" moved forward.  Progress on solving many of our problems ground to halt while waiting for the new pecking order to be established.

(NOTE from Webmaster: Prime Minister Menderes was arrested on 27 May 1960.  He was executed on 17 Sep 1961.  On 17 Sep 1990, the 29th anniversary of his execution, he was posthumously pardoned by the democratically elected Turkish Parliament and his grave was moved to a mausoleum named after him in Istanbul.  It was admitted that his execution was a mistake.  See my story under "George Durman" in the Samsun section for more on Adnan Menderes.  Be sure to read about "Adnan Menderes" at Wikipedia!)