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Hadji 1974


By Barron M BroomfieldPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 21 min read


It was November 12, 1952. Steel mills were dominant in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio and the pure white blanket of snow which had descended on the area earlier in the day had now morphed into a grayish slush because of the billowing clouds of soot that regularly filled the skies. As the temperature dipped, the slush changed to black ice which combined with the ever-present potholes to make driving a chore. As Doyle Broomfield maneuvered his vehicle through the streets of Warren, Ohio his thoughts were focused on getting his young wife to Trumball Memorial Hospital. He quickly pulled up to the emergency room entrance and helped the orderlies place his wife on a stretcher and wheel her into the hospital. Inside the maternity ward doctors and nurses exchanged sly looks and grins as they prepared their patient to give birth. This would be the fourth consecutive year Mrs. Geneva Broomfield would be having a baby in November. In 1949, 1950, and 1951 they had delivered three beautiful girls but this year the couple were expecting their first male child. As Geneva began experiencing the now familiar pains of labor, she focused her attention on the television which was showing a popular wrestling show. Tonight’s show featured an Italian wrestler who had recently set a record with a live gate of $1000,000. He apparently made quite an impression on the young mother. His name was Baron Michele Leone and shortly after the show’s conclusion, Barron Michael Broomfield was introduced to the world.

On October 6, 1970, American Billy Hayes was arrested in Turkey as he attempted to smuggle 2kg of hashish out of the country. His subsequent trial, imprisonment, and escape from custody were the subject of a popular novel and film entitled “Midnight Express”.

On February 16, 1974, twenty-one US airmen were arrested in Turkey on drug charges and thirteen of them were indicted on charges of attempting to smuggle hashish out of the country. I was one of the thirteen and this is my story.

Chapter 1

Times, they were still a changing in the early seventies. The turbulent 60’s spawned the formation of many protest groups. Civil rights, students against the Cold War, anti-Vietnam protesters, gay rights, women’s rights, and the environmental movement. The war in Viet Nam was heading towards its conclusion but it, along with civil rights and Roe v Wade were the subject of nightly news, and America yearned for peace, love………………….and drugs. From heroin addicted GI’s returning home from the war to the flower child and hippie movement, increased drug use, especially marijuana was the new norm, and acceptable in society. Events such as Woodstock and the increasing glamorization of drug life led to the “War on Drugs” by President Lyndon Johnson. I had my first exposure to marijuana through one of my sister’s boyfriends and it was an underwhelming experience. It made me laugh for no reason and increased my already healthy appetite, but I could not see what all the excitement and hoopla was about.

I graduated from high school in 1970 and as part of the affirmative action program that was a product of the Civil Rights movement, I was given a scholarship to Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While I had been a member of the National Honor Society and in the top ten percent in my class at Youngstown South High School, I was ill prepared to enter one of the top three engineering schools in the country. I lasted two semesters before I was put on academic suspension and was forced to leave school. I often have said that the only thing I managed to learn was how to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, but in hindsight I learned to appreciate diversity in people and to realize that affirmative action requires more than just receiving a handout.

Fifty years later affirmative action has yet to work. There are more minorities and other interest groups in visible positions but not because of politics. I graduated from college with a BS in History in 2002. I was married, had five kids, worked four days a week and commuted ninety miles to school three days a week. I took five classes my senior year and had to earn an A in each to graduate on time. I received a perfect 4.0. It was my affirmative action that enabled me to graduate, not the policies of the government.

When I moved back to Youngstown, Ohio in January of 1972, my parents offered me two choices, find a job, or join the Armed Forces. Their actual words were “Well I don’t know what the boy gonna do, but he aint staying here “, my dad declared to my mom. She was in complete agreement. They had assumed correctly that I had partied my way out of school and missed a golden opportunity in life.

I never acknowledged it, but the next day I took the ASVAB for the Air Force and filled out an application for the DeBartolo Company, a local construction company. My brother-in-law was in the Air Force, and he was my role model. The older brother that I had longed for, having grown up with three older sisters. He encouraged me to join the service and there was a part of me that was curious about serving in the military during wartime. My other option, The DeBartolo Company was a pioneer in the construction of suburban malls. They would eventually come to own over a billion square feet of commercial real estate related to retail. Edward J DeBartolo Jr. later became owner of the San Francisco 49ers football team. The day I was to report for induction into the Air Force was also to be my first day on the job in construction. I chose to enlist.

After an uneventful boot camp at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas I was eager to graduate and be assigned to my next station. The training was comical, we had to do ten push-ups in a minute, ten sit-ups in a minute and run a mile and a half in 12 minutes to pass the physical. I qualified expert in the rifle and pistol tests, and I was exceptionally good at taking orders. The verbal abuse and threats from the drill sergeants were nothing compared to the scolding’s and whippings I experienced growing up with caring but stern parents. After graduation I left for technical training at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado. The first night we I got to the base all the newbies popped on the bus to town to check out downtown Denver. We stopped at a McDonalds and ordered extra- large cokes and then poured equal shares of a quart of Bacardi 151 into our cups …and that was the last thing I remembered when I woke up naked and passed out in my dorm room the next morning. I later found out that it was the effect of the high altitude and adjusted my drinking habits. The Missile Maintenance Technical School was no match for the curriculum at Carnegie-Mellon University and I graduated at the top of my class with ease. As the saying goes, “Real men join the Marines, real SMART men join the Air Force”! So far life in the Air Force was full of great food, little work, and living quarters that compared favorably with my college dormitory. I also enjoyed wearing a uniform and the military’s pomp and circumstance. After completion of tech school, I was assigned to McChord AFB in Tacoma, Washington. McChord AFB is next to the Army’s Fort Lewis and the two posts share infrastructure and other facilities. They also allow the servicemen stationed there to travel freely to the service clubs on each installation. This proximity increased opportunities to mingle with the opposite sex as there were social activities in abundance. Overall, it made for a great first assignment. My duties in the missile shop were simple, we tested and repaired air to air missiles and tv guided bombs that were then shipped to war zones. It often made the evening news more interesting when we would sometimes see the direct results of our handiwork. It was during this early part of my Air Force experience that I began considering making military service a career choice. Unfortunately, this was also a point in my life when I made the choice to start associating with people on base that were into smoking marijuana.

It started innocently enough when I accepted an invitation to hang out with some of the guys from my dormitory. They were a few that smoked pot and after becoming a part of their inner circle my dorm room was the center of our drug activities. I started using pot on the weekends and then it became an everyday experience after work. Our little group thought that we were safe, but those assumptions would prove to be exaggerated. One summer night there were about a dozen of us gathered in my dorm room on the second floor of our company barracks. We were passing around rolled joints and pot-filled bongs that created a dense fog despite the open windows and small box fans we employed to disperse the smoke. We shoved a blanket under the door to try and block the pungent odor of marijuana from the common hall beyond it. The music was playing, not too loudly, and conversations were taking place around the room. Suddenly a new sound was introduced, and it was coming from the hallway.

We heard dogs barking and voices coming from opposite ends of our hallway. They were ordering everyone to evacuate their rooms and to exit the building. It was obviously a drug raid and everyone in the room panicked! I froze where I was standing but my mind was racing at top speed. My whole Air Force career rested on what would happen in the next few moments. An Article15 was possible and that would include a reduction in rank and loss of pay. How would I explain that to my family and friends back home? More importantly my job as a missile technician required me to be drug free. Our shop contained live warheads and rocket motors that were highly volatile. The smallest amount of negligence combined with static electricity would be disastrous. No place for potheads.

Growing up I was drawn to super sleuths in print and film. I read all the Sherlock Holmes books and was glued to the screen for every Bond movie. My childhood friend and I formed our own Man from U.N.C.L.E team, from the popular tv show, and went so far as to kidnap a neighborhood kid and leave him hogtied in an abandoned house overnight; because of course he was a THRUSH agent. I was ready for this!

In that frozen moment I searched the room for a way out. I knew I would not be able to escape through the door and it would be equally foolish to hide under one of the beds or in the closet. I saw one of my buddies look down from the open second floor window and it appeared he was going to jump. I yelled for him to either go or move out of the way. When I saw him turn back in hesitation I ran across the room. I grabbed the windowsill and launched myself out the open window. Holding onto the windowsill made the drop to the ground about twelve feet, so I let go. Miraculously I landed upright and hit the ground running. I went to the front of the barracks, which was located on the opposite side of the building and asked the gathering crowd what was going on. Someone replied that the Security Police had conducted a drug raid on the second floor, and they were bringing down a bunch of airmen who had been smoking pot on the second floor.

The front doors of the barracks opened, and nine airmen were led out with their hands cuffed in front of them, escorted by the SP’s and their dogs. I slid deeper into the crowd and glanced back as they passed in front us. None of the security people paid any attention to me but the looks on my buddies' faces ranged from astonishment to envy. None of them had followed me out of the window and now they would face the consequences. I went to the base theater and sat through whatever was playing but my mind was on the raid. Would my friends rat on me, was it safe to go back to my room, should I report a strange smell in my room? I decided to go to the airmen’s club, and I stayed there until it closed. By the time I made it to my room there were no signs of what had happened earlier, and I went to bed.

The next morning was a Saturday, but I was awakened by a couple of security officers who were there to escort me to the First Sargent’s office. The Sargent and security officer present asked if I knew what had happened in the dorm the night before and I gave an Academy Award performance. I was shocked and outraged that my two roommates would dare to smoke marijuana in my room. I demanded new roommates, which was a given, and offered to help any way I could. They were satisfied with the fact that I was not present in the room and that nothing was found in my locker or chest. I also had the backing of my crew chief from the missile shop who told them I had performed well in my duties and there were no signs of drug use at work. I was officially off the hook but unofficially I was the main character in the story that spread across the base grapevine about a crazy Airman First Class jumping out a window. The legend grew every time the story was repeated, and I wisely refused to take any credit.

In the days and weeks following the bust I was a model airman, on and off duty. I limited my pot use to events and locations away from the base. I never attempted to take drugs on base and waited until I was sober to return to the base whenever I did smoke. I joined the squadron’s flag football team, volunteered for extra duties, and continued to excel in the missile shop. I was promoted to a crew chief and was selected Airman of the Month by the Squadron Commander. Our flag football team made it to the base championship game, and I played offense and defense. As a defensive back I made an interception and then made a crunching block from the fullback position that led to the winning score. After the game was over, I found out that I had played with a fractured heel from the beginning of the second quarter. The next day I received orders to Turkey.

Turkey? Where the hell is Turkey? I joined the Air Force to see the world, but Turkey? It was not on any list I had drawn up, but orders were orders and I had four months to get used to it. I began looking for information about Turkey and the surrounding area. I was familiar with the region through Geography and History lessons, but I wanted to learn more. I hit the local and base libraries and attended all the informational meetings for transitioning airmen. Turkey is situated on two continents, partly in eastern Europe and the rest in western Asia. Although they have some minority populations, with the largest being the Kurds, the people are 75 percent Turkish. It has cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Turks are fiercely nationalistic, secularists and follow Christian Air Force ideology brought by the reign of Constantine.

Incirlik AFB is located on the outskirts of Adana, Turkey. In addition to the USAF and the host Turkish air force, there were units from the RAF and the Royal Saudi Air Force. We were briefed by the base officials on the importance of not only following the Turkish rules and regulations, but also to be sensitive to the local cultures. Hence, “gobble, gobble” jokes or other negative inferences to our national holiday would not be tolerated. It was rumored that one young airman had his throat slit after such remarks. As a twenty-one-year-old, leaving the United States for the first time, I suffered from the 3 I’s invincibility, immaturity, and ignorance. As the time for my deployment grew nearer, I focused on my Air Force duties and continued to learn about the country I was headed to. A group of us would go to Vancouver, Canada on weekends and it was an eye-opening experience to see life in a foreign country, even though we have a lot in common with our northern neighbors. I became more excited about overseas travel as my departure date neared. I spent the last two weeks saying goodbye to friends on and off base, and because I had been relieved of my missile shop duties, I used this time to get high as I figured it would be a minute before I could find a connect at my new duty station. Then it was time to go.

I arrived in Turkey around five am on Thursday, February 14, 1974, Valentine’s Day. I was processed into the base and taken to my room in the squadron’s barracks. It was a three-man room and the bunks had been stacked three high so there would be more room to move around. As the newbie I got the top bunk, which was only 3 feet from the ceiling. It took a couple of days before I stopped banging my head getting in and out of bed. This was going to be my home for the next eighteen months. The day was spent attending briefings and otherwise acclimating myself to the base. It was strange seeing all the different uniforms and hearing languages other than English in the mess hall and airmen’s club. In the background was the sound of Turkish music and calls to prayer blaring through speakers around the base. The guys in the dorm were cool and they all welcomed me to the place. I was invited to go on a three-day camping trip, celebrating Washington’s birthday, for the upcoming weekend. It seemed like a great opportunity to meet friends and the talk surrounding the party promised plenty of food, fun, and alcohol. The site was on the Mediterranean coast, near the port city of Mersin.

I woke up the next day, Friday, and after attending more meetings and briefings, I was free to leave the base for the first time. After changing into civilian clothes, I decided to explore the city outside the gates. Adana is the fourth largest city in Turkey and although it was considered as modern compared to other cities and towns in the country, waste ran in open sewers and the stench assaulted my nostrils as soon as I stepped through the installation’s main gate. All military bases have areas outside their gates that are dependent on the soldiers, airmen, or seamen for their livelihood. There were bars and shops everywhere one looked. The streets and alleys were filled with merchants selling their wares and street vendors offering fruits, vegetables, and succulent lamb dishes prepared on vertical rotisseries. Seasoned lamb and veal meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical heating element. When meat is roasted horizontally the fat drips down on the flames into, causing the flames to rise and singe the meat. Turning the meat vertically keeps the flames in check and washes the meat in a tasty bath of fat.

Vendors shouted in English and Turkish promoting their wares and the brightly colored stalls and native dress drew me further from the base. I lost my sense of direction. The streets were a maze of one-way avenues and back alleys that led to dead ends. Signs were all in Turkish and I had neglected to look for landmarks to track my way. The sun was beginning to set so I asked a store owner who spoke English how to get back to the base. It turned out that I wasn’t far from the main thoroughfare, and I began to work my way towards the base. I decided that I had a little more time to shop and crossed the street to look at some jewelry. In the middle of haggling with a jeweler over the price of a gold wrist band, I was approached by a teenager. Speaking in broken English he said, “Would Hadji like some of hashish?”. He took out a package concealed in the folds of his loose shirt, “Only five dolla American”, and flashed a quick smile. I looked around and no one was watching so I quickly dug out a five-dollar bill and made the exchange. The kid vanished into the crowded streets, and a cold chill went down my spine while my sweaty hands were concealing the package in my windbreaker. “Okay dummy”, I scolded myself, “you just bought drugs, you’re lost, and you have no idea what the procedure is for re-entering the base!”

I shopped some more and as dusk settled in, I joined a group of airmen headed in the direction of the base. I stayed a little distance behind them but close enough to eavesdrop. The conversation was casual, and no mention was made of any kind of package inspection. We lined up to enter the gate and as I got closer to the front I relaxed when the MP on duty gave only a perfunctory glance as each person presented their ID. I made it back to the barracks without any hassle and immediately locked myself in. Both my roommates were at work so I tore open the plastic so I could inspect my package more closely. Inside the wrapper was a 3x5in, greenish colored brick, about ¼ inch thick. According to my limited knowledge of hashish, this was a great deal and I immediately regretted not establishing a lasting contact with my young salesman.

One of my other purchases was a tobacco pipe. Meerschaum pipes from Turkey are treasured around the world. They are produced in an off-white tone that absorbs the tint and aroma of whatever substance is smoked through them. They are hand-carved and highly decorative. I knew once I used my new pipe I would never be able to take it back stateside, but I wanted to see what Turkish was like. I packed a bowl full, grabbed a lighter, and left the dorm in search of a suitable place to smoke. I found a secluded area that was used to store outdated equipment and discovered a niche that would prevent anyone from seeing me lighting my pipe. Already nervous and paranoid I just took a couple of deep drags and quickly left the site. I didn’t really feel a head change, but I attributed it to jet lag, my unfamiliarity with hashish, and being in new surroundings. I made a quick stop at the dorm to hide my stash before heading to the airman’s club for a few drinks. I would wait for the upcoming camping trip to try my hashish again.

Friday afternoon I packed my gear and joined the thirty other campers jostling for seats and storage space on the old tour bus we had rented for the occasion. By the time we entered the main highway the party was well under way with cans of beer and bottles of liquor being passed in every direction, but all was not well. The weather was not cooperating and by the time we reached the campsite we were in the middle of a torrential downpour. Our Turkish driver skidded to a stop atop a bluff that led down to the water. We exited the bus and carried our camping gear and supplies nearly three hundred yards down to the beach. I was bunking with two other airmen I barely knew and as we unpacked our gear It was miserable work, try to erect our tents and light fires in the howling wind and driving rain but after an hour or so we managed to get set up. Then all hell broke loose!


About the Creator

Barron M Broomfield

After attending Carnegie-Mellon for three semesters, I served in the USAF, worked in Vegas casinos, graduated college at fifty, on my fourth marriage, in the process of authoring two novels in a series. Favorite author John Grisham.

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  • Barron M Broomfield (Author)9 months ago

    This is the beginning of a complete manuscript, more to follow.

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