TUSLOG DET 4 and TURKEY
I put this document together as a ‘web site’
in May, 2007.
I had just discovered the pages devoted to
the American GIs who served in Turkey.
This is my contribution to all the other web pages honoring them and their
In 1967, as a member of the U.S. Army Security Agency, I was
assigned to TUSLOG DET4.
In my small Russian atlas that I'd purchased at DLIWC, in Cyrillic text,
I found the name
of the town to be Caesar Felicit Sinope.
Julius Caesar apparently loved this place and so do I.
To find it in terms of geography look to the center of the Turkish coast on the kidney-shaped Black Sea.
To find it in terms of human history look to Homer and tales ancient even
to the Greeks.
To find it in terms of time sit at twilight on the edge of the Hill and listen
to the sounds wafting up from the town.
The sounds you will hear seem to come from a place before time itself began.
(from GoogleEarth and Google SketchUp)
spent the longest year of my life. For a year this was the whole of my world.
From the dawn of rainy mornings
to blazing sunsets at the end of the day
Here a few American GIs just did our jobs and helped to ward off the threat of
global thermo-nuclear war.
(from GoogleEarth and Google SketchUp)
Sinope is located on an isthmus protruding eastward from the northernmost bulge on the
Black Sea coast of Turkey.
At the time Sinope was rather remote and isolated from most of Turkey and the
We were a day's journey at 150 kilometers from Samsun with the closer 100
kilometers being hardly more than a one-lane dirt road.
We were a two-day boat ride aboard the Black Sea Steamer to Istanbul.
Assignments here were for 345 days - the shortest permanent
assignments in the U.S. Army, a hardship assignment, 20 days too short for
The town seemed not to have changed very
much since Julius Caesar brought it into the Roman Empire.
Some of us marveled at its age as we walked the cobbled streets that Roman legionnaires laid down some
before our arrival.
During my 'year' here the farthest I traveled save one 3-day
pass was the Roman rampart visible
on the right shoreline where the isthmus
narrows in the first image below.
On the Hill my world consisted of
the OPS building,
the EM and NCO clubs,
occasionally the theater and
the brow of the Hill near the MP barracks where
I idled time away looking at the scenery and
thinking just what in the hell I was doing here and
what I was going to make of it for myself.
I had but two favorite haunts in the
town - the chai garden near the pier for tea and bread and the knife maker's shop near the
As the chaplain told us when in-processing "the hardest thing you'll have
to face here is yourself".
We could deal with the historic 7.1 earthquake that
took out our running water.
We could deal with the long time lag for mail from home.
We could deal with the
rainy season when mail didn't come for a month
as the small plane could not
fly due to fog and rain and
the 100 kilometers of dirt road to Samsun were impassibly reduced to mud.
isolation was the thing that bothered us and we faced it within ourselves every
These images, along with rather pleasant memories, are all that
of this place that became so important to me over the past forty years
and of this place where my imagination came to life in a bigger way.
Diogenes! There must have been something in the damned water and we both drank of it.
This page of images was created for all the
other GIs who were stationed here during that forgotten war, the Cold War.
This page of images was created especially for my fellow travelers on Sgt. John
Thurston's trip on a dirt road that went forever on.
To paraphrase Yegeni Yevtushenko in his poem Babi Yar:
"Nad ... (Sinope) ... nye pomnit stayala."
Over Sinope no monument stands.
That monument stands within the hearts of all those who served
each with his own, quite personally valid, interpretation of the experience.
I personally want to thank those who were here before me
for what they suffered through and did to make my tour much more bearable.
TUSLOG DET4 1967-68
MY VIEW TO THE WEST AND HOME
THE VIEW OF THE ANCIENT HARBOR
MY FIRST PHOTOGRAPH OF TURKEY
This is at that place on the road from Samsun where the 50 kilometers of pavement ended and
the 100 kilometers of dirt road began.
I was able to get off the Hill just once in the entire year.
Sgt. John Thurston
got a bee in his bonnet about going to see some ruins of Byzantine
He convinced his superiors that it was a good idea.
After much solicitation he also
convinced a good number of us GIs to make the trip with him.
commandeered a couple of 2 1/2 ton trucks, Turk drivers, rations and I think we paid a
bit and obtained our passes.
OUR TRIP TO GOREME VALLEY
THERE AND BACK AGAIN (J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit)
When our 'trick' ended we bought some Raki downtown and hit the road on a
three day whirlwind tour of the Turkish heartland.
Most of the time we were like crawdads in looking back at where we had been
from under the truck canopy.
We made our way through beautiful but nearly impassable country while most of the time we
were on a dirt road that went forever on.
images that follow are my record of that awesome trip on a dirt road that went forever on.
The following scene may be remembered by many as their first view of Sinope.
Or was it this one?
We slept in the trucks and we ate in the trucks.
Mostly we ate
the dust on a dirt road that went forever on.
High in the mountains south of Sinope we took our first break.
Rumors had it that bandits once inhabited this country and attacked the convoys
on the way to Ankara.
We felt it good to get out of the trucks.
Little did we know of what lay ahead on a dirt road that went forever on.
It was a one-lane dirt road through mountainous terrain that satisfied the soul
of this 20 year old Kentucky hillbilly.
God! I was in real HILLS again on a dirt road that went forever on!
In small mountain hamlets the people brought their children out to greet
us when we stopped on a dirt road that went forever on.
And as I said, it was pretty damned near impassable but beautiful terrain.
The road to the left
middle ground is the way we got to my vantage point.
We went down then up and then down again, a slow roller coaster ride, on a dirt
road that went forever on.
Until we exited the hill country we passed through terrain I felt to
be so similar to east Tennessee,
even to the limestone boulders in the field,
and the two-stranded wire to the
electric pole on a dirt road that went forever on.
Once we came around a bend in the road and Eve herself stood up from
We all fell in love with her but the driver wouldn't stop.
She didn't have one and we didn't have an apple amongst us either.
At the time we were following the course of this river.
We followed the river's meander for
many, many miles on a dirt road that went forever on.
When we came to the Anatolian plateau it was summer and harvest
I saw Monet's haystacks for the first time since leaving home somewhere on a the
dirt road that went forever on.
The fields of barley or wheat were ripe and ready for harvest.
Most of the time we never knew just exactly where we were.
We just knew the lush countryside and the ever present dust on a dirt road that went forever on.
We saw many storks in flight above pastoral fields where the Monet haystacks mirrored the shapes of the few trees.
Were they pistachio trees or olive trees? We never knew on a dirt road
that went forever on
We saw night come to Anatolia.
I felt that our journey merged with so many others, in a long line of human procession, into
the primordial mists of time.
I felt lost somewhere in that procession along this caravanserai on a dirt road that went
We did make it to Goreme.
Here I captured our undying mounts, no Rosinantes these, at the Aciksaray ruins.
On this quixotic quest we had reached our goal at last on a dirt road that went
I got my first view of dwellings out of some fantasy fiction plot.
The local rock is a soft volcanic so dwellings are carved out of the living rock
with nothing more
than an axe.
This is architecture by subtraction.
I know of such a place in only one other location - the former Soviet Republic
The farmer is growing eggplant.
We were in Hobbiton and on a dirt road that went forever on.
Inside the ruins we found the appropriately named Dark Church.
The bright color flashes are artifacts from poor storage of the slides.
With Corel's Photopaint and its darkroom I managed to clean up all the others
and make them presentable.
As they say, 'my bad!"
I could see almost nothing inside so I put in a flash bulb, I prayed
to capture anything worthwhile,
trusted range finder Petri 35mm in the
general direction of 'up' and snapped the shutter.
The eyes were scratched out by the Ottomans in the belief that it destroyed the
pathway to the soul.
There were many underdrawings in preparation for the fresco secco technique that
never came in finishing the work.
The material used to make the drawing comes from a red clay.
The black marks are most probably charcoal as it mixes well with the 'chalk'
from the clay.
In an arid climate neither decay nor fade.
The red clay is called Sinopia and lies underneath all the frescos from
It may also be the material used in the manufacture of the Conte Sepia pencils
that I rely on in doing some of my own drawings.
To understand the iconography one must think in terms of orthographic projection
rather than perspective projection.
Depicting an ethereal world their art was symbolism and not realism. It is
Here we have a depiction of a saint in a niche carved out above a doorway.
I'm not a student of Byzantium nor of the Orthodox Christian church's
so I know not the meaning of this 'wedding' with a cross.
I can recognize this as a fertility image with its emphasis on a stylized
depiction of female anatomy.
My unlettered assumption is that it depicts the Virgin Birth.
The following two photographs are my only ones of DET 4 personnel
and traveling companions on a dirt road that went forever on.
Bob Lydick (OPS repair)
Bob was assigned to Warrenton, Va. after Sinope.
Spratlin (unknown MOS) and others that, sadly, I cannot identify.
Spratlin (maybe Spradlin) came from Maryland's Eastern Shore area.
And, as in all stories, comes
THANKS FOR THE WONDER FILLED MEMORIES FROM A DIRT ROAD THAT WENT FOREVER ON.