Robert D. “Danny” Ricketts
Here's another Dog Flight patch; I also have a "Stable Able" patch somewhere. I arrived as a 202 at Karamursel Air Satation on Dec. 22, 1961 and left on June 14, 1963. Most of the time I was a day worker under Sgt. Standard and Capt. Dottie Aspell. Please look at my "Tour of Turkey" on my website rdricketts.com You can get to it by clicking below.
I was stationed (Air Force) at Karamursel in 1962-63. Back then the base was semi-remote,
surrounded by farms, and was near Yalova. I often took the Ferry from Yalova to
Buyukada and Istanbul .... great trips. We went through the 1962 Cuban crisis, where we were
a hot target for the Russians. Word hit the troops that the military had provisions to move the
dependents out of Turkey, but the rest of us had to get out on our own. That escape plan included a belly dancer, a ferry boat, and a PT cruiser to run us past the Russian submarine.
AH .... the good old days.
The Russian submarine watched us 24/7. The U.S. couldn't do anything about it because Turkey was a neutral country. So, when we walked out to work we'd give the Russians "the finger" and they'd smile and wave back at us. They apparently didn't understand our meaning.
During the Cuban crisis they brought in troops right out of boot camp. One poor sucker was put out by the antennas, and he was given 200 rounds of ammo. The next morning they found him mentally freaked out and all the ammo was gone. They failed to tell him that Water Buffalo scratched their backs on the large antenna support wires.
I arrived and left off the old air field. When we arrived our plane was surrounded by armed
Turkish soldiers. That will put the scare into you. But, I did enjoy my time in Turkey. Saw
lots of stuff and met many people. I particulary liked Buyukada. Lots of stories from there.
I went to the Black Sea in 1962, not to far from Sochi. It was a very drab and gray place with miles and miles of shoreline and little to see. I did meet some Russians, but that was back at a restaurant in Istanbul. That I was American was obvious, and one Russian was trying to run over me with all of the Russian accomplishments. It was Russia made this and Russia made that ... yadda yadda. It was three guys and one woman. The woman took out a cigarette and the Russian pulled out his lighter .."This was made in Russia" he said. But, the darn thing didn't work, no matter how many times he tried. So, I walked over to their table, pulled out my Zippo lighter and lit her cigarette. I smiled, winked at the woman, gave her the Zippo and said "Made in America". The Russian wasn't happy about me doing that. The woman laughed.
My job assignment was Tech Control, which meant I had to have a Top Secret/Crypto clearance.
At Karamursel that meant my life expectancy (while on duty) was 3.5 seconds in the event of an attack. The word in the ranks was that our building would be blown up rather than allow an enemy
to get our crypto machines.Because our duty schedules were whacko, we were pretty much left alone. But when on duty we
were "the boss".
Had a major bust into our duty area declaring that he was the new Communications Officer. We had no notice of this guy showing up, so I called the front air police desk and had the major removed from the building. But, that didn't stop the guy. Next he went out to our antenna station
and demanded that they open the door to let him in. They opened the door and put the barrel of
a 45 into the major's face. That same week the major was flown back to the USA.
Before gettng on the Ferry Boat in Yalova ... for a ride to Buyukada or Istanbul ... I would purchase fruits, nuts, and candy for the trip, but it wasn't for me. I always rode on the open top deck, which was primarily for men and male children. The deck below was for female children and for women who nursed babies. An area for a single guy to avoid. The lowest deck was for the very (very) poor and farm animals.
I'd select a table, cover the top with paper napkins, and put all of the goodies out for display.
Then I'd just sit there and do nothing. Eventually some adventurous kid would come by the table, look at the goodies, and then look at me. I'd signal for him to take something, and then he was off to tell his buddies. Soon I'd have five or six boys at the table, and that would draw in one of the adult males, and that would draw in more men. We then became a group, eating goodies, drinking Chi, and laughing just for the fun of it.
On one such trip, during a stop a Buyukada, a kid came on board and he was shoulder hauling a fancy Turkish shoe shine box. He came to me and began pestering me to get a shoe shine. When I put my foot up on the box he pulled out a knife, placed it against my tendon and threatened to cut me if I didn't give him all my money. "That little ____" I thought. But before I could blink the kid was gone and I heard him calling for help. One of the Turkish men had grabbed the kid (and his shoe box) and threw him overboard. The guy then looked at me and said "ok Joe". Yeah yeah yeah, the kid was okay. He was near the dock and soaking mad.
I went to Istanbul as often as possible. A lot of adventure there. Met some GI's that were stationed in Istanbul, and they lived "off base" because that was their only option. Plus, they never had to wear their uniforms, because it wasn't allowed in Turkey. Anyway, I always had a place to stay.
Went to a Turkish club one night and met a woman named Narmin. She was a bellydancer.
Tall, long black hair, and very pretty. Some people may not know that bellydancing is not a striptease. No nudity. It's a sensual dance and the dancer wears many veils. She dances, takes
off a couple veils, and waits for a response from the audience. If they applaud it means she danced well, and then she'll dance again....again...and again until all of the veils are off.
She looked at me several times, which boosted my ego and imagination. I was a dumb kid.
Anyway, after her dance three Turkish guys started giving her a hard time, and grabbing at her.
She moved away from them and (holy smokes) she sat at my table. The three Turks didn't like that and they started walking towards us. They weren't smiling. I stood up (a skinny Italian boy from Buffalo, NY) against three Turkish guys. Fortunately (thank goodness) someone had gone outside the club and called over an armed Turkish soldier. He came into the club, yelled out something in Turkish that sounded very nasty, and the three Turk's backed off. The soldier then montioned for me to leave. I did. But, I was now Narmin's boyfriend because I stood up for her.
I made her laugh because my name "Sal" means "Salt" in Turkish.
The Turkish Bazzar was my favorite place. All of the stuff ... WOW. That's where I learned about bartering ... never pay list price. I was buying goods for my mother but the vendor and I couldn't agree on a price. Back and forth we went, and soon there were people arguing on my behalf and people arguing for the vendor. So, I called over a little kid, gave him money, and asked him to get two trays of hot Chi. All of us then sat on the floor (Turkish rug) drank the tea,
argued a little more, and laughed a lot. The vendor and I compromised. It cost me ten dollars.
Then, I had the need for a bathroom. When you don't know the language, try to talk yourself through that one. Finally, in desperation, I grabbed my crotch and made a "gotta go" face.
Well, now here was an adventure. No stations or stalls. Just a hole in a marble floor. Stand to pee and squat to dump.
The Ferry Boat always stopped at Buyukada for passengers, and then went on to Istanbul. Buyukada was an island and looked very special. So, I decided to check it out. I wandered by the water front shops and restaurant, and decided to try an ice cream. As I fumbled for the money a voice asked "are you American ??". It was a guy a little younger than me, and we started to talk. When he found out I was Italian he got excited because his mother was Italian, and he insisted that we go to his house to see her and have lunch. Mom didn't talk much, but she smiled a lot and put out a great lunch.
Afterwards he decided to take me on a tour of Buyukada. No motor vehicles. You either walked, rode a donkey, or took a bike ride. The first place he took me was called the European Beach.
No Turkish people. It was European people on vacation, which also included many female topless sun bathers. I would have been starring much longer, but he brought a Greek bather to our table. I was amazed by her beauty ... enough said.
Next he took me to another beach that had no people. He explained that this beach was
used for taking a bath in the morning. There was a row boat and we rowed out into the bay.
The water was absolutely crystal clear. Then, he called out to someone. It was a girl swimming
not too far from us. She swam over to the row boat, talked with him, looked at me, and then swam away. I had a date for that evening and didn't know it.
Yeah, define "date". I was pleasant and respectful towards her father and mother, and dad agreed to the date. It was me and my new friend, and ahead of us was the girl with two sisters and an aunt. The girl and I didn't exchange two words all night, and stayed eight feet apart.
Please check out this link to Major Combs website for more good stories
ABLE FLIGHT Patches
The picture of the mug below shows the patch used in 1961. This was sent to us by Charlie Leggett.
More BAKER FLIGHT Patches are on the "Return in 99" page above.
The BAKER FLIGHT Patches below are courtesy of Joe Hogg who enjoyed two assignments to KCDI (1969-70, and 1971-73).
CHARLIE FLIGHT Patches
The four patches above belong to John Butts. Below he writes about the awesome Charlie Flight Football team of 1970.
Below is a nifty picture of a Dog Flight patch from this time period. Our thanks to Greg Mason for sending it to us!
Do you have any patches from this era? If you do please take a picture of them and e-mail them to [email protected]
We will put them here on the website.
John "Seymour" Butts
Charlie Flight 9/69 - 3/71
Just to note about the football patch above. We won the championship that year in overwhelming fashion. We dominated every team we played and the closest game we had was with the Day Shift that we won that 60 to 50. There was a kind of rivalry between them and us and they started dedicating songs to us on the radio. I came up with the idea that we should use the song "Catch Us if You Can", by the Dave Clark Five as a dedication to their team and that title became our flight motto. They took most of our starting team and added guys from the other teams and made an all-star team. This team practiced for a few weeks as an eleven man football team (you remember we played 8-man ball in our league) and then they sent the team to Naples. They played a game against the European Military Champion, which that year was the Naval Base at Naples, in front of a crowd of about 20,000. The Karamursel team won the game by a score of 26-6 and they did it without a coach. Yes, just before they left for Naples, the coach of the team Sgt. Frank (who was the coach of the Charlie Flight team) was called back to the States on emergency leave. Friday night they still beat the best team in Europe on Saturday. So, 1970, was a great year for Charlie Flight and Karamursel football.
Able Flight 1960 to 1962
Just found your site and noticed there is nothing posted earlier than late 60's.
That could be because most of us are over 70 and many aren't very good with
computers. However, so long as they don't shovel dirt on me, I will continue to
learn and adapt to our Brave New World. I posted on the site but encase you don't
get over there very often I'll tell you I was a J202 on Able Flight from 5/60 to 5/62.
Didn't save my patch, but did manage to keep my flight coffee mug as pictured.
Unfortunately most of my photos from that period were lost in a typhoon while
I was stationed on Guam in 1976. Those I could save are in poor condition, but I
will offer them now.
1. Only picture of me. Taken at the Istanbul train station in 1960
2. This was my 55 Plymouth, 4 door. I arrived in May 60, wife and children in November and the car in
approximately February. In late May 3 of my shift mates and I made a 3 day trip down to Chanakkale (Troy), Bergama (Pergama) , Ismir and Ephesus. Only a few poor quality pictures survive. Back then we worked the 4/1 4/1 4/4 cycle which only lasted a short time (something about 3 day pass rule) But we took advantge of that time off.
3. The Base BX
4. This was my first barracks and also the classroom for my son's 1st grade.
Before my family arrived, they opened a new 3 story barracks
Those were very austere times but I did manage to get down to Izmer via pov with 3 buddies.
I can't remember their names now. There were no paved roads south of Ismet until just
outside Izmer. Troy was still being dug out and was a mess.Ephesus and Pergama were
somewhat neater but probably not ready for prime touring.
His crew shut down the Elephant Cage in 1979
Norm Perez was
there in the late 70’s and was in the last and final crew at the Cage. He
"My school at Wichita Falls was extended since this went into a special assignment. After being scheduled to go to St. Albans, Vermont I was reassigned.
Yes, the hobby shops, BX, Movie Theater, Commissary, and restaurant were all still there. It didn’t take long after I got there that we started closing stuff. From The list above, all that was left was one small mess hall for the remaining crew. If you needed a hospital or dentist you were shipped to Incirlik or Germany(Frankfurt). Do you remember the radio station? This closed as well along the same time as the above. I remember working at the theater to show ourselves movies to stay occupied. Films stopped being shipped to us as well.
Shortly after that, I remember being 1 of 3 and we had the whole barracks to ourselves. Family housing was all empty except for 1 or 2 homes.
We couldn’t wait to leave. Being alone got to some people while others handled it very well. I stuck it out to the last day and really really wanted
to kiss the ground at JFK when we landed!"