William "Bill" Rodgers


Tuslog Det 16

Jul 1965 - Dec 1966

2017 by Author

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TUSLOG Det 16, Incirlik A.F.B. Adana, Turkey July 1965 - Dec 1966:

I have a previous posting under Erzurum that I wrote first as it defined my stay in Turkey the most.  It also covers some unique incidents relative to Incirlik and my earlier training.  I was a 30450 Radio Relay Equipment Repairman, trained to service Microwave Transmitters and Voice Frequency Telegraph Multiplexers.  Incirlik was an 18 month assignment for unaccompanied personnel.

Fresh out of High School, Basic, & Tech School, I arrived at Incirlik in the middle of the night due to aircraft problems and missed connections.  We were dropped off a a transient quonset hut barracks.  This was to be home for about a month, until a bed opened up in the I-type permanent party barracks.  We were right at the one end of the runway.  The B-47 phase-out was happening then and provided some interesting sights.  Also there was a Super Constellation Radar Picket plane that sat beside the runway for over a year awaiting repair and disposal.  Aircraft activity was mainly C-130's, C-141's, & Turk F-105's.

Base housing for lower ranking NCO's was pitiful, resembling a migrant labor trailer camp.  Most were 50's vintage trailers that had been brought in for the U-2 detachment in earlier days.  Hardly a blade of grass present.  Most pursued off base housing after their families arrived.  Only permanent party accompanied officers and senior NCO's resided in the few houses on base.

For the most part we walked the about 1/2 mile or so to the Comm. Bldg at Det 16.  I believe there was a base bus, with a Turk driver, that made irregular pick-ups.  We just walked if we wanted to be sure if we were going to be there at an appointed time.

The mess hall was half way between the barracks and Det 16 headquarters.  At the time it was one of the more modern facilities on base.  There were many Turkish busboys and cook's helpers working there.  The base agreement said we had to hire 1 Turk for every G.I. assigned to Incirlik.  We could always tell when we were having hot dogs or pork as the Turks would be in a foul mood.

I learned to drink my coffee black in Turkey.  Reasons:  #1, the sugar had weevils in it; #2, the milk was reconstituted (they scooped it out like lard, added water, simmered it . . smelled like sour milk, and then chilled it . .yuck!); #3, the coffee was warehoused with cod liver oil in it to promote shelf life .... yielded an oil slick on the surface.  Most memorable meals were the few times we had steaks.  An interesting side fact was the C-141 crews would bring in stashes of fresh milk that the base mamas would line up for.  I believe it was coming from Wiesbaden.)

After about a month I moved into the permanent barracks.  I got into a room close to the laundry room and diagonally across from the mail room on the ground floor.  I shared the room with two of my co-workers.  Turned out not the best experience.  The other two had a total clash of personalities.  We saw each other at work and after hours.  I totally missed the quonset hut.  The only good thing was the BX, snack bar, theater, and rec facility were all within a 1000'.  I had 2 TDY's that broke up my time with my room mates.  There were Turkish "house boys" that you could hire to maintain your room and do your laundry.  I never hired one as your room would reek of Yeni Harman cigarettes for a day or two afterwards.  All kidding aside, you could tell if a Turk was in the barracks, just by his cigarettes.  Guess you can surmise I'm a non-smoker.

My job at Incirlik was totally like a civilian job with 8 hour days.  The bad part was that initially we were on rotating shifts 3 swings, 3 days, 3 mids, 2 off.  Later in my tour I volunteered to take over midnight shift on a permanent basis.  Made everyone else happy!  I was totally happy with my job and believe I probably would have gone for 20 if left in AFCS.  But that was not to be.

Part of my job was to make a monthly trip to a Comm detachment at Iskenderun to service their fly swatter microwave and multiplexers.  It provided the rare occasion to use my tech school training on WW2 vintage equipment.  It was made as a day trip from Incirlik, leave at daybreak and return at dusk.  I didn't get to do any sightseeing, as I usually traveled with a married NCO that wanted to get home.  We drove past Snake Castle many times.

I spent a fair amount of time in Adana, (and Ankara) on my own, walking the streets and markets.  There was a base bus that ran "almost" hourly pick-ups on a standard route.  Several of the NCOs lived off base and their dependents always enjoyed having another American voice to talk to.  I got fairly frequent invites to parties, work parties, (preparing for the family's arrival) and such.  There was only one time I felt threatened.  I was downtown while an Anti-American labor dispute was assembling.  Just as they started "marching" a Turk grabbed me and dragged me into a hotel saying, "I must buy you a drink".  Since then I have had similar experiences in Spain, Canada, & Morocco where the locals look out for the "dumb" American.

Looking back on it I regret that I didn't do more sightseeing.  Being as young and inexperienced as I was was a factor, along with a shortage of disposable income.  Since then I have tromped all over Spain and Africa, while traveling with NASA.  I usually went out on my own as I try to avoid groups, as there always seems to be one loud mouth.  The local beggars sense your fear of them and play upon it.  They harass you in hopes you will throw money at them.  I have traveled 3 Muslim countries extensively and never had a problem.

One plus of my 2 TDY's to Erzurum was that my Incirlik assignment was cut short by 45 days for having spent more than 90 days on an isolated remote site.  I was suppose to have returned in early February but got home the week before Xmas instead.  I didn't let any family know as I wanted to surprise them. Boy, did I ever!

Prior to returning stateside I was given the choice of 3 assignments:  Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Edwards AFB, California; and Statesboro, Georgia, a remote SAC Detachment at Statesboro municipal airport providing ECM (enemy radar simulation) & radar bomb scoring training to B52's.  I really wanted another overseas assignment, but it wasn't allowed.  The rule at the time was that if you had spent more than 90 days at an isolated remote site, your next assignment was CONUS.

I asked my NCOIC about all three:  Elmendorf, "cold"; Edwards, "hot & in the middle of no wheres"; Statesboro, "a girls college town".  Guess which one I chose?  Actually I came to regret choosing Statesboro, as I was in an OJT program to be an operator.  The equipment was so sophisticated that no 1st-term airmen, even the ones that had been to tech school, were involved in any "hands on".  I was bored to death and hated the job.  To make matters worst, as a "trainer" for B-52's during the Vietnam Era, I was "frozen" in the career field.

"Good Bye" Air Force !

All in all my time in the Air Force did provide me many rewards.  My 1st full time job, post USAF, was repairing business machines and accounting computers.  When the Space Shuttle program was ramping up they were looking for people with at least 2 of the following experiences:  Microwave, Mono-pulse Radar, Computers, & Lasers.  I had experience in 3 of the desired fields.  I was selected to be trained on the Space Shuttle's ground based landing systems.  I spent the next 20 years traveling around the world with NASA going to Shuttle abort sites.

Click Photos to Enlarge

SSgt King at Iskenderun, TRC-24 Microwave Comm Shack.

Snake Castle from the distance, on drive to Iskenderun.

A farmer's pavilion:  There were broken bottles on top of the wall to keep intruders out Snake Castle in the background.

Bridge on the way to Iskenderum.  There are Roman aqueduct ruins in the background that you can't pick out.

Me receiving the "Silver Snoopy" award selected by and presented by the Astronauts.  I was selected for "actions taken" during a Super Typhoon on Guam.  Anderson AFB was a contingency landing site after the loss of Challenger.

Yeni Harman Cigarettes.

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