A day in Turkey

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    A day in Turkey by Bruce Stark

    I woke up early to try to get in and out of the chow hall and still get to the Recreation Center before the deadline of 8:30am. The recreation center offered weekend tours to various tourist locations here in southern Turkey. I had earlier been on one of their tours to Konya, Turkey for the 700th anniversary of Mevlana with the Whirling Dervishes and all. I was working in Adana Turkey at Incirlik Air Force Base. There were three of us from Torrejon Air Base in Spain. We were in Turkey to support the electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems on a squadron of F-4 Phantom jets stationed there. It was Saturday morning and Jerry was to be on stand-by if he was needed.

    It was the 20th of July,1974 and I found myself walking to meet the bus for the Castle by the Sea tour. Just as I got to the bus it took off and left me standing there. The man in charge told me that the tour had been cancelled. It seems that the Turks had attacked Cyprus that morning. They had unfortunately used the beach next to Castle by the Sea to launch their navel attack on Cyprus. No Tour today.

    I had heard a lot of fighter jets that morning and could still hear them taking-off as I walked back to the barracks. After a few minutes, a guy came into the barracks and said that our stand-by person was to report to duty......immediately. The sergeant and myself tried to wake Jerry , but he was passed out cold from excessive drinking the night before. The sergeant, Larry, told me to get into uniform and report to work.

    I got a ride over to the flight-line where the Avionics Maintenance Shops were. I walked into the ECM area of the room when a cluster of people moved into me. Each one was a higher rank than the last one. Things went quiet when one of them finally said, we have four Phantoms on the Victor Alert Pad. I need to set their ECM Pods to war-time frequencies.

    It is not often that I say exactly the right thing at the right time. I looked at the group and motioned some of them out of the way of my view of the safe. I pointed to the safe and I said, I need and officer with a top-secret clearance and the combination to that safe. A person I had never seen before got down on his knees and worked the combination to open the safe. I told him to take the book out that is marked top-secret and follow the instructions. He read for a minute or two and said, grab your tools and we will all go out to the VA-Pad, together. The Victor Alert Pad consisted of four single aircraft cement hangers in a fenced-in area at the end of the run-way.

    Once we were at the first aircraft, I popped a panel off of the side of the ECM Pod to expose about ten rotary switches. Each switch goes from 0 to 9. The officer read off, switch four to position three. Switch five to position 7 etc., etc. We set the war-time frequencies into the pods of the four Phantoms while the Munitions Maintenance guys placed a live nuke on the center-line of each fighter.

    We were all ready to go back to the shop when it was announced that as long as there is an active alert, we had to be available to secure our equipment. That went for the MMS guys too. We were all escorted to a pilots hide-a-way. It was a bar set in a dug-out so it had a low-profile. We sat there for several hours. We were told that President Nixon had called a nuclear alert because he was afraid that the Soviet Union would come to the defense of Cyprus and maybe bomb our base as this is where the Turks launched their air attack.

    Late in the day we were called off of nuclear alert. I scrambled all the switches on the four pods and marked them to go back to Spain for an inspection. After I got back to the barracks, I was told of a talk that the commander of the base would be giving about the Turks attack on Cyprus. I attended the talk. The commander was basically reassuring the families living on the base that everything was going to be ok He told of the US just selling the Greeks some new fighters. I believe they were F-100's. He said that the planes could reach our base but wouldn't have enough fuel to get back to Greece. The commander added that the Greeks could do an air-to-air refuel but we sold them the wrong nozzles so they couldn't.

    Jerry got into big trouble for not coming into work when he was called upon. I think he kept it to just an Article 15 but he said he stopped drinking after that.
     
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