Chapter 4 - Assignments in Germany and Turkey
We found out shortly after arriving at Celle, we were being extended another 90 days TDY and maybe more after that. So most of us (forecasters) request PCS (permanent change of station) and we put in for transportation of our dependents to Germany. This was granted and I was reassigned to the weather central at Rhein-Main AB. Jane and David arrived by March(?) 1949 at Bremerhaven, Germany by ship. David recently told me that he remembered being told that their ship was the sister ship to the ill-fated Morro Castle and due to the rough weather that they were never allowed to go on deck during the trip as if anyone fell over-board there was no way to recover anyone from the ocean. After debarking it the Bremerhaven port, they took a train to Frankfort. Since I didn't have housing Jane and David were supposed to go to a dependents housing hotel near Munich. This was at least 4-5 hours travel time from Frankfort, I found a temporary room at a military hotel for us nearby at Bad Hamburg(?). It was to be temporary but we got extension after extension. Finally the WAC Major in charge said we would have to leave.
About that time David came down with measles so we got another couple of weeks. Our friend a Captain James Rudolf found a bachelor apartment (bottom floor of a home) for two officers. We moved our families in to wait for permanent quarters. We had a kitchen but we mainly ate out at the Farben Building (formally a large German War company and now US occupation headquarters). I was assigned shift work in the upper air section. The hours were 8pm to 4am or 8am to 4pm. I had two German forecasters working with me. We were responsible for analyzing several charts, probably 850, 700, 500 and 300 millibar charts plus making prognostic charts and upper level wind forecasts. Lt Ernest Cogdal and Captain George Holt were a ssigned here from Celle also. George had brought his "fraulein" from Celle to Frankfort to be his family's maid.
About a month after Jane and David arrived I came down with measeles. I was realy sick, my eye sight got bad and I was quarantined behind a closed door at the hospital. Jane had to talk thru the door when she came to visit. I was promoted to Captain while I was in the hospital but couldn't read my orders to Captain. I finally got well and got my sight back to normal. Eventually we got a 2 level apartment in Hedereheim(?) a Frankfort suburb. We were assigned a German woman as a maid. This was done to help the German economy more than to help us. Jane picked her out. No cute fraulein but a grandma type about 60 years old. We also had a fireman to keep the furnaces going in a string of about 10 apartments where we lived. He became our black-market contact to exchange cigarettes and sugar for Deuche Marks. We each had an allotment of 3 cartoons of cigarettes and 10 pounds of sugar a week. I didn't smoke and it was more sugar than we could ever use. Sort of "OK to engage in the black market if it didn't become too big". Jane usually had to buy back some cigarettes by the end of the each week and at the going rate which was much more than she had sold them for.
We bought a 1949 ford 6 cylinder sedan which ran pretty good. We took trips to Holland and to Garmish in the German Alps. Lots of things to buy with our ill-gotten Marks. Lt Ken and Arline Smith were good friends. They adopted a German baby girl. He was a pilot working at Rhien-Main AFB. They were later assigned to Dyess AFB, Abilene, TX and we visited with them when we were based at Carswell AFB, Ft Worth TX. The Air Lift came to an end by the end of the year. We got a chance to visit Berlin if we knew someone we could stay with. Captain Gene Wolz, my old neighbor and operations officer from the flight service center at Hamilton Field, CA was based in Berlin and had quarters there. David, Jane and I got a flight on the C-54 courier to Templholf AB, Berlin to visit and see Berlin. This included a ride in Wolz's Volkswagon thru Brandenberg Gate into and around the Russian sector of Berlin. I still have some 8mm movies of it.
Assignment in Turkey
In February 1950, we were having a group of friends to our home and I got a telephone call from Major Sickes, my Detachment commander at Rhein-Main asking if I would volunteer for an assignment as weather and operations officer for a MATS detachment at Ankara, Turkey. I told Jane and she was all for it. So on the 13th of February 1950 I was reassigned to Turkey with my Squadron Headquarters in Tripoli Libya. We left Frankfort, Germany 22 February 1950, on a C-54 stopping at Rome and on to Athens, Greece. We remained over night and departed the next day from Athens to Ankara on the C-47 courier plane. We landed at Etimsut, a Turkish air force base where I would be working. It was about 12 miles from the city of Ankara. We were met by a Lt Ralph Johnsen. He was the other weather officer assigned to our "Liaison Briefing Team". He took us to the best hotel in Ankara (Gehan Palace). It was quite a change from Germany were everything was done for us and now we had to find everything ourselves. We lived on the local economy. The US PX had only toilet articles and BOOZE, LOTS of BOOZE. We had two MATS weather officers and shared a staff car between us that we drove ourselves and could use for anything. We found an apartment near the Mission headquarters and US Embassy. Our Turkish landlord could talk German so we could communicate somewhat. We soon found out that his daughter could talk fluent English which worked out better than our German. On second floor were two Indian Embassy families (a Mr & Mrs Gossell and another who's name I've forgotten). The third floor there was a Belgium Embassy family and a Russian Embassy Family. The 1st floor was us and the Landlord. The Basement was also the Landlord and the janitor (Karpetgi).
I was attached to a MATS Detachment consisting of Major John Phillips and Sgt Ripley. We also had 4 AACS communications people for running our MATS communications etc. The American Mission was primarily training the Turkish Air Force and Army in Turkey. Also there was the American Embassy Air Attache and a secret clandestine group for evesdropping by radio communications on Russia. I flew occasionally with one of the officers and all I ever got out of him was when he flew over a small house with antennas where he said he worked. Also he was a former weather officer forecaster. Later a Captain Barrett from the Air Attache at Ankara had Lt Johnsen and I watching for "unusual" cloud formations over south and central Russia. He showed us where to watch. I know now that was an area where the Russians where conducting atomic tests. The Mission had 4-5 C-47s and a stripped B-17. The Navy group had a C-45 and the Air Attache had their own C-47. The two weather officers jobs were to supply weather forecast and operation clearances for these and any other American aircraft that came to Ankara. Ralph and I rotated this responsibility and as we both were pilots and we had to do a fair amount of flying. Every Monday the C-47 would fly the US personnel to various bases throughout all of Turkey and on Friday would pick them up for return to Ankara.
These Bases included Istanbul (Yesirkoy Field), Izmir, Bursa, Eskisehir (P-47 training) to the west. Kayseri, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Erzurum and Erzincan to the East. There was a large runway at Adana but I don't remember many flights to there. I never made any during my year there. It later became a U-2 spy plane base. Our flights were like "bush" flying with little or no radio beacons. Luckily most of the time it was clear- VFR. In winter we did have IFR conditions. We never lost a plane while I was there. Major Gardner, the base engineering Officer had a crash on take-off just before I got there. The wreck was still off the end of the runway. This is the same Gardner I saw after I retired on a TV sports coverage driving a Gold Cup racing boat. He hit a wave or log and flipped over on Lake St Clair, Michigan and was killed right on TV.
We almost lived entirely on the local economy. We shopped a t he local stores for vegetables and meat. The PX had some staples such as powdered milk, coffee and all the booze you could ever buy. The local Ankara meat market was quite an experience. The side of a freshly slaughtered beef (probably the day before) would be hanging in the shop with the associated flies. The shop would have a "side of beef parts " chart on the wall and you would point out what piece you wanted on the chart and they would attempt to fill the order. We soon found out that you had every thing ground, no matter what, if you were going to be able to chew it. They called this ground meat "Prima". Of course if some one had some lamb ground before you, you would get some of that too. The lamb was something else. It was really tender, good and cheap. We liked lamb and often had lamb chops. Eating out was different. The Turkish restaurants were excellent and the steaks were tender. I found out that most restaurants raised and cured their own beef.
When the Turks found that the Americans were willing to pay the price they started getting refrigeration and by the end of 1950 we had good fish and the beef was better. For Thanksgiving a Army friend of ours had shot a big Ukranian Wild Goose and it was excellent. For Christmas I bought a couple of skinny Turkish turkeys and tried to fatten them up on yogurt and grain. I got our Turkish maid to kill and clean them. We had to rely on our landlord's English speaking daughter to get most things straightened out with our maids.
There were lots of parties with the Mission and Attache officers. We played lots of bridge with John and Amiee Slusher and Bill and Billy Jones. Billy was an Australian bride who Bill had met when he was based there. John and Bill were the two TUSAG Mission weather officers who were teaching the Turkish AF weather station procedures. In good weather we would drive to the edge of Ankara and have picnics. We had David and the Slushers had Alison who was about the same age as David. The Jones had no children at this time. We had a Military Hospital\Clinic but no one would want to get sick as our doctor might not be sober when we needed him. On August 4, 1950, I had my first and only flight in a B-17 that was attached to our mission at Ankara. I thought it flew like a truck. I had a few trips outside of Turkey. I went several times to Athens, mainly to go shopping in their commissary to buy hams which we couldn't get at our Px in Ankara. The USA people in Athens couldn't get good eggs and as Ankara had plenty of good, cheap eggs we had a good barter\exchange system going with the Athens courier crews. Maj Phillips MATS Commander came to Ankara in his C-54 from MATS Hdqs in Wiesbaden, Germany.
On the 2nd and 3rd of September 1950 John Phillips and I flew his C-54 to Wheelus AB, Tripoli, Libya. John Slusher went with us. I think we brought back several tons of soap and other commissary items that were not available at Ankara. Clear weather for the whole trip but did have some thunderstorms at Wheelus AFB on the night of Sept 2nd. On The week-end of 6-7-8th of April, 1951 I took advantage of the USAFG TUSAG policy of allowing local pilots to take their spouses on a trip out of the country on the TUSAG military C-47. The only stipulation was to take other military and wives as passengers on the trip. I planned to go to Cairo, Egypt but they had been a recent incident involving Americans getting stones thrown at them in Cairo so I changed the trip. I took the other MATS weather officer, a Lt Charles Daley as co-pilot. We got Captain Bill Jones, one of the JAMMAT mission weather officers to cover our weather duties and keep David while we were on this trip. Daley's wife Pat and Jane also went along. We flew to Nicosia, Cypress on the 6th and spent the night there. On the 7th we flew to Beirut, Lebanon and stayed at a pretty hotel on the Mediterranean.
Before we left Ankara I weighed all the passengers and their baggage. I figured how much each person could buy in Cypress and Beirut to bring back on the plane. When we took of from Beirut International on Sunday, the airplane felt extremely over- loaded. In fact it took almost the entire way to our check point over Cyprus to get up to our flight level of 10,000 ft. After dark we had some instrument weather over the south coast mountains of Turkey. We picked up quite a bit of ice on the plane and it scared some of the passengers when the ice occasionally was slung off the propellers and hit the airplane fuselage. An interesting happening on this trip was while we were in Beirut a Warrant Officer from the Ankara USAF Attache, who was on a car trip to Beirut called on me at the hotel in Beruit to ask if I would take a hassock (a stuffed foot stool) back to Ankara on the plane with us. I accepted and I brought a wrapped package about a yard across and one foot thick back and put it in our closet till the Warrant called for it. On Monday or Tuesday of the following week a Captain from our Air Attache called on us at our apartment in Ankara and asked if we had brought a package back from Beirut for so-and-so. I told them yes and the circumstances of how I got it. They took it unopened. I later found out that It was full of black-market money that the Warrant officer had illegally exchanged in Beirut.
My last flight as pilot in Ankara was on July 1st, 1951. We flew to Yesilkoy Airfield at Istanbul. I remember seeing a WWII B-24 bomber on the field. They said it and it's crew were interned there during WWII. We finally received orders to for transfer to the USA with duty at Chanute AFB, Illinois as an instructor at the weather forecasting school. We sold everything including David's toys to the Turks. We had some furniture that had been ordered from Sears and had not yet arrived. We sold it sight unseen to Captain Bill Jones, one of the weather officers attached to the TUSAG Mission. We left Itimisut AB in July 1951 on the C-47 MATS courier plane that flew the round trip from Athens. We spent a day in Athens and left the next day for Rome. We spent a few days visiting Lt DeSalvadore and family in their "villa" outside of Rome. He was the weather officer assigned to the MATS detachment at Rome and we knew them from Frankfort. We arrived at the Baseler Hof Hotel Frankfort Germany about 12th July 1951 to await transportation to Westover AFB Mass.