"Climax" campsite surrounded by Shahi bushes and bramble
Obviously, a fruiting banana tree.
This is one of my Libyan favorites. We must have veered too close to the Algerian border, because the Land Rover with these border patrol approached us for identification. Very courteous and cordial. They agreed to pose for the photo. They look to be, Chad, Algerian, Tunisian and Libyan. The tall armed guard is probably CHAD--he's armed with what appears to be a 9 mm German Erma Machine Pistol. During this time, the Legionnaires were carrying out covert actions during the Algerian Independence. I suspect that they were looking for "lost" or separated Legionnaires. Just a thought. I remember during this time when three ethnic German French Legionnaires approached our base camp for food and water. They were paratroopers and had gotten separated from their units. There was a German-American in our unit--I don't remember his name-- who spoke fluent German and he was able to get permission to fly these guys to Tripoli. If I remember correctly, they drove them to the German embassy and turned them out in front of the steps of the embassy and drove away.
Reverse MPC. I am sure most folks remember Sgt. Techy? Well, Sgt. Techy was a self proclaimed "Hungarian Jew from Brooklyn, NY" who claimed he volunteered to enlist in the Army--I think he must have been about 45 years old--to help out in during the "Berlin Crisis" callup. I never believed that story, nor the war stories about his resistance against the Germans during the Hungary occupation. One story involved stringing wire across the roads to kill German troopers riding motorcycles. (Techy) had accumulated a bunch of MPCs, and before he could exchange them for dollars there was the Wheelus Base shutdown. We were required to turn in all old MPCs for new issue ones...and figured that Techy got caught with the old MPCs. It was not to be. Somehow Techy was able to get word of the scheduled shutdown and turn in his MPCs and Libyan pounds for U.S. dollars.
A partial profile of "Hummer" at the steering wheel of the M-37 Weapons Carrier...there were no weapons aboard.
A Fiat that crashed through the guard rails on the way to Benghazi.
The guy from Tennesse burning good rations before returning to base camp. He spoke fluent East Tennessee (Cade's Cove) Mountain dialect. A delight to hear. I'm so sorry I can't recall his name. All he wanted to do was get back to the mountains. Truly, a man of the mountains.
Another view of the USCG air-conditioned quarters and the M-37 Weapons Carrier. Can't ID this person.
The town policemen were always courteous and kind. Amazing how Americans are treated by the populace when one doesn't go in with guns'a blazing.
Convoy and Landscape
Somewhere between Tripoli and Benghazi.
Other side of Libyan Pound note
This photo is of my Libyan tea party guest returning with that unsolicited container of warm Camel's milk. If you look closely, you'll see his son and wife sitting next to the "baby" camel.
SP5 Thomas Ray 'Tommy' Gentry 1963
Tommy was stationed at Wheelus AFB in Tripoli, Libya for a short time before being assigned to Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission and was one of the first Mapping Mission troops to arrive in Addis Ababa. Below are some of Tommy's photographs of Libya.
(CLICK HERE to view Tommy's photos of Ethiopia).
Rome's Romulus and Remus (during the Italian occupation, atop the pillar) transfigured into the Star and the Crescent
Bank of Tripoli
A Catholic church outside the East Gate of Wheelus Air Base. I wonder if "Toni" attended Mass there? Toni was the cute Italian signorina that ran her father's Italian restaurant outside the East Gate. They specialized in spaghetti with Camel meatballs. Sometimes when I would see her waiting at the bus stop, I would practice my Italian with her.
Is this a 10 piaster note of the United Arab Republic.
Another rock fortification, I assume.
Another view above ground man-made construction. At one particular such structure, I came across an ionic, "fluted" column piece that probably weighed 100 lbs. I think that it was marble. It measured about two-feet in length and was quite a "find" for me. I hauled it around for about two weeks in a duffle bag, until I discovered it missing. I was told the shave-tailed 2nd Lieutenant from Illinois had ordered it dumped. Looking back, it was looting. Now endowed with an interest in Indian culture in Mississippi, I see that removing artifacts from sites is something that make even an Archeologist curse.
Streets of downtown Tripoli.
SP/5 Techy ordered all petroleum products and foodstuffs to be destroyed in a gasoline-soaked pyre, in order that it not "be used by Arab "commandoes." This particular incident occurred a few days before Christmas, 1963. All that I ever saw amongst the locals were poor Libyan agrarians that gladly accepted the sugar, tea, sardines and beans that would have been destroyed prior to our return to base camp or Wheelus. Winning the hearts and minds of these people was part of our mission as outlined to us in a speech by an ambassador back at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He told us that each of us should play the role of U.S. "ambassador," and that the people would judge our country by our conduct in the field. I believed that!
In another incident that I did not film, SP/5 Techy ordered that all empty 55 gal. drums would be de-miled by taking an axe and cutting holes in the bottom and lids of the drums, for the expressed reason cited above.
I remember the red-headed guy from California--I don't recall his name but remember his words--saying that" giving those empty drums to the locals would have promoted more good will that building a four-lane highway from Tripoli to Bengazi." I wonder where he is now?
The Tetley Tea Taster: This Libyan Nomad approached the tent to ask for water. I invited him in for tea (Shahi) and Sardines. He pulls out his teapot and I fire-up the ubiquitous mountain stove (aka "Tanker's Stove").
I introduced him to Tetley Tea and he introduces me to syrupy, sweet Arab-style tea making. I loaded him up with Sardines, sugar and tea and he wanders back out to his waiting camel. A few minutes later, he returns with "camel's milk" for me and introduces his young son. I can see a female (the mother, I assume) looking towards us. I taste the warm milk and then load him up with sugar--it's like Gold to them. I never could get them to haul-off the SPAM in all those two years I was out there.
This is the tennis/volley ball court at the 64th Engineering Compound near the East Gate of Wheelus Air Base, downwind from the Camel Slaughterhouse outside those gates.
THOMAS RAY GENTRY
I think that this is Ghadamas after the 1963 earthquake.
This photo was taken by me of "Hummer" and another "fisherman;" We hired the Libyan to take us fishing-- No life preservers! I think Hummer told me he hailed from Maryland and that his family made their living as lobster fisherman.
Road to somewhere? There appears to be some sort of utility poles alongside the road.
My Libyan tea guest with his son
There appears to be Romanesque columns in the right of the photo. I think that this was in the fortress?
Yours truly in front of my 10-man, Arctic hex tent with liner.
Wider angle of rock fortification.
Other side of Driver's Permit
Waterspout in the Med. That fellow was in Personnel, I don't remember his name.
What appears to be a belt-fed, water-cooled, wheel-mounted machine gun from probably
WWI on the walls of the Fortifications in Tripoli.
Climax camp "bugout." That's Sgt. Bounds, the tall one in profile --the California Armenian -- and the shave-headed one sitting (from Buffalo, New York.)
SPECIAL FOREIGN ACTIVITY
Esso Standard Tank Farm
I think that this is the beach in front of the British NCO Club in Tripoli. From that vantage point, we could see "Gertrude" sunbathing on the beach next "door." We always heard that she was the daughter of a German petro engineer working with the Oasis Oil Company.
Libyan Pound note.
Convoy and Landscape
These ubiquitous caverns always seem to be located near a man-made
structure/fortification. Bomb shelter from WWII? Or maybe a cistern?
ARMY MAP SERVICE
Fortress in Tripoli Harbor
My driver's permit. I don't know why it is stamped "Flight Line."
Looking in from of the British NCO Club
Reverse side of 10 piaster note of the United Arab Republic.
The ubiquitous fort
Convoy and Landscape
Looking down on the streets of Tripoli from the Fortress walls.
A classic "Climax" spike campsite composed of the durable, nylon 10-men Artic Hex tents. I've been in those tents many times when the "GHIBLI" passed, without any damage to the tent or personnel. Of course, we always had hours of preparation for the gathering storm out of the South.
Convoy and Landscape
64th ENGINEER BATTALION
Libyan kids on the block. I never had a problem of Libyans shying away from the camera lens. I never felt threatened by them. I wonder where they are now? I like those 18th century, 10 feet paneled doors to their flat and recently purchased a set of these doors at an European antique sale a few months ago.
This is the US Coast Guard Submarine Monitoring Station at Marsha Bregha, not too far from the Great Arch that separated Tripolitania province from Cyrenicia. We stopped there for hot food, showers, laundry and water. And, too, there were baseball games between the Japanese construction workers building tank farms for Big Oil, and the Coast Guard and "Climax Camp" guys. Great hosts, the US Coast Guard.
Type your paragraph here.
MPC (Military Pay Certificate.) This script was used on base as a medium of exchange to discourage U.S. dollar speculation on the Tripoli black market. When we arrived in Tripoli, we exchanged our US dollars for MPCs
Libyan village with the ubiquitous mosque.
That's Jesus Garcia from California, taking a bath in that 55 gal.drum. Always laughing, Jesus.
Appears to have been an Italian domicile. I often wondered what the roofs were made from,
because there never seemed to be any roof structure left. Probably timbers from Europe and maybe clay tile.
Our own "Sweeney Todd." (the Demon Barber of Fleet Street). I have difficulty remembering his name, but he was from Boston and always called me "Abe". I was then and even now, never enamored of Abe Lincoln. I'm sittin' atop a 5-gallon water can.
Good example of the 1920's colonial architecture during Mussolini's occupation. Is
that a water tower on the right? I do remember wheat-growing areas along the coast. I remember one particular incident when Sgt. Techy ordered a survey crew to cross a muddy wheat field with the weapons carriers. The landowner rode out on his horse and confronted the crew. I wasn't there, but maybe others can tell the rest of the story. I think the landowner was compensated for the destruction to the wheat crop. Sgt. Techy was full of hate for the Arab people. I often wondered if the late Calif. Rep. Tom Lantos wasn't the reincarnation of "Techy." There was a remarkable resemblance between the two; they both had that Dracula-like voice and demeanor and told similar war stories about there days as resistance leaders in WWII occupied Hungary.
I think this is the Sand Viper (Cerastes vipera) I obtained this photo from the HQ. medic.
Maybe "classification" can name this town. I think that it's near Benghazi.