It was with some trepidation that I received the news my family was going to Izmir, Turkey. It was late 1976, and my mom and I had immigrated to California from the Philippines only a couple of years before. We lived in San Francisco until my mom married my step-dad, who was a Staff Sgt in the Air Force at the time. I was just beginning to be comfortable living stateside and getting accustomed to meeting new friends at school in Vacaville, near Travis AFB in Fairfield, so the prospect of moving overseas was quite daunting. Nevertheless, the Air Force had spoken—the naturalization process for my mom and myself was accelerated, and before I knew it, March 1977 had arrived and we were off in our family station wagon on the I-80.
When I arrived at Inçirlik AFB in 1971, the elementary students met in a regular school building, but the junior high, which consisted of grade 7-8-9, met in about a dozen quonset huts on the periphery of a large grassy field, while grades 10-11-12 students boarded at Karamursal near Istanbul, returning to their parents at holidays.
Those quonsets were primitive compared to DoDDS school quonsets elsewhere, such as Pacific Middle in Okinawa. The curvature of the building began at ground level, so we lost considerable stand-up space around the outer walls. Many of the floor tiles were cracked so I pulled grass from time to time and I would hear the scurry of mice when I opened the door in the morning. The quonsets were heated with coal oil furnaces which we teachers lit on chilly days, igniting a wad of paper jabbed onto a wire coat hanger with a match, then inserting it into the furnace.