US Naval Air StationPort Lyautey, Morocco
The following narrative and photographs were submitted Dick Allen who arrived in Morocco in 1961. In the narrative he recounts his arrival, friendships, favorite memories and the later years with former friends found. And as he eloquently states:
I tend to ramble, so pick out what you want and toss the rest to the "bit bucket".
Dick Allen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional photographs courtesy of Allan Kunkel.
Joined the Navy right out of High School in 1959. Boot camp at USNTC Great Lakes. First duty station was NAS Oceana where worked in Admin for a short period, then Avionics Maint. Transferred in 1960 to USN Target, Stumpy Point, NC (total complement 10 men, with a BM1 in charge uniform of the day was class A bathing suit and sneakers). Filled out my "Dream Sheet" requesting a French speaking country. Got my orders for Port LaHooch in Nov 1961.
Jerry Hargraves, Dutch Fielder, Allan Kunkel (purse was a joke)
Upon arrival, and while in transit company, I was "stressed" between paydays when a fellow transit offered to lend me $10 to get through the week until payday. That fellow was Allan Kunkel and that single act created a friendship that is as strong now as it was in 1961. Probably will be that way until I pay him back!
View from behind the Allen barracks
Allan Kunkel (Kunk) was assigned to the crash crew and I was assigned to the Air Terminal loading cargo on MATS, and NOACTs aircraft. When I arrived MATS was flying Lockheed C-118 (DC-6) and the occasional C-124. NOACTs was flying Fairchild R4Q (C-119) and R5D (C-54). There was, as I remember there was one Douglas R4D that was damaged when a LCDR who was later named "Twinkle Toes" taxied it off the ramp and collapsed the landing gear.
I was so oblivious to what was going on that I never realized the base was being decommissioned. When I arrived the Red Cross had many activities on and off base, such as French Classes, bike rentals, tours, etc. We had an LCDR with a civilian secretary (a Hawaiian native if I remember right) that had an office in our area of the terminal. Over my 18 month tour, the officer and secretary disappeared, as did the Red Cross, the Hobby Shop area was all but closed and there was an incident where a the local AFRS operator locked himself in the radio station and broadcast his protest of the lack of equipment and repairs. I started to get the hint when the French closed down their side of the base.
Left to right, Allan Kunkel, Jerry Hargraves, unknown, Dick Allen (on his 21st birthday).
My first few months were spent like most everyone. Recreating at the EM Club, Swimming pool, and bar hopping in Kenitra. There was a fellow, named Dutch Fielder who spoke French and had a motorcycle and got me out of my rut. He introduced me to the real culture of Kenitra and Maroc. Even to trying out for a part in the Mogreb Players (I wasn't cut out for that). Finally I bought my own motorcycle and that's when my horizons expanded. About that time, the teletype operator in the air terminal passed out on the barracks floor with blood coming out of his mouth.. Ulcers. They discovered I had taken typing in High School and was made teletype operator, a position I held until I left.
NAS Crash Crew
Crash Truck #9
Kunk was my rider, and we traveled all around Kenitra. Took several trips to Rabat, Casablanca, Plage des Nations and other places. By that time I was speaking some French and while at the Royal Milk struck up a friendship with M. Pain, the owner, M. Barbara co-owner, and M. Pain's son, Gerard. Through Gerard I met a lot of French, Spanish, and Moroccans students in my age group. A marine who spoke fluent French, who I won't name, suggested we form a "social club". I helped him organize it. We rented a 4 room villa near the train station ($50 a month). One of the local students, painted seascape murals on the walls and we decorated it with netting, and a bar. We had dances once a week, even were able to talk some of the bands that played at the EM club to play for us for free (free booze). The last I saw that Marine he had a glum face and was marching between two Marine guards over an on-base incident involving the armory and some Moroccans that I won't talk about because I don't know the facts.
MATS C-118 getting an engine check. Dick Allen still has his "Belly Hatch Key".
I sold my motorcycle and Kunk and I pooled resources and bought a 1958 Renault Dauphine. We didn't know it had been a Petite Taxi and was pretty tired. It didn't last too long, but we had fun with it. I still have my Moroccan drivers licence which I am told is still valid only requiring a stamp. We sold it to a wealthy Moroccan cattle rancher from Rabat who invited us to his home where I met his father, who's most prized possession was an old radio in a niche in the wall. He said it was given to him by someone in Winston Churchill's party. We also had a traditionally cous-cous dinner.
Navy R5D Transport. Note tail stand, required to keep it from sitting down when passengers walked to the rear of aircraft.
I lost track of Kunk after we got out of the service, but I found him in Fargo ND on the internet in 2005. We now get together a couple times a year, and he and his wife bought a camper about a mile from where I live in Florida and spend winters with us. It's like we were never apart. He still wants his ten bucks.
P2V in for crew rest and refueling.
Some of the things I remember.
An Inn called the "Half Way House" between the back gate and Mehdia beach that sat up on a bit of a hill. That was the first place I ever tasted fried squid.
A Moroccan customs official who had an office in the Air Terminal and loved to play poker with us.
Sneaking a huge roast beef out of the mess hall complete with roasting pan, wrapped in an old parachute and stuck in the trunk of a Marine's car to get it through back gate customs. Took it to the beach for a fantastic picnic.
The spicy charcoaled brochettes that the vendors sold in front of the Cafe Lux by the clock. Some said it was dog meat, but man... it was good.
The two Americans whose motorcycle quit as they rounded the clock. Suspecting it was out of gas, opened the tank, and tried to look inside using a cigarette lighter for illumination. The Kenitra F.D. arrived with empty fire extinguishers and the bike burned to a crisp.
The drinking anisette apparatif with Mama and Danielle at the Cafe Des Sports next to the Royal Milk.
Watching a John Wayne western at the cinema dubbed in French.
Warm afternoons sipping Mint Tea at the Royal Milk.
The delicious "Flan" (custard) that topped off a perfect meal.
The Moroccan cigarettes that you could smell 1/2 block away.
The night a short in the electrical system caused many of the electric lines in Kenitra to glow red... drip insulation, and finally drop to the ground.
Going to the Fish Market in the morning with the owner of the Royal Milk.
The street vendors chanting "Moule, Moule" (Mussels) selling to the restaurateurs early in the morning.
Flag Pils Beer
The first time I ever saw a bidet - heh, thought it was for washing feet!
"We are the Joy Boys of Radio, we make the electrons go to and fro" AFRS Radio
The most unusual incident I remember.
One warm summer night, June of 1962 I think, we were all lying out on the grass in front of the terminal ramp, no traffic due, just smoking and chewing the fat when we saw a set of landing lights in the distance. Called the tower, they weren't expecting any traffic and they were not in contact with the a/c. The a/c landed and I recognized it as a Russian built Ilyushin Il-18 "Coot" passenger aircraft. My petty officer, hearing this, called the O.D. The aircraft had Ghana Airways on the side. It taxied to the ramp and we moved the ladder to the hatch. The hatch opened by a smartly dressed fellow who was speaking French. I was asked by my petty officer to see if I could find out from him what was going on. Well this fellow was quite irate at his reception and the fact we wouldn't let him get off.
I found out he was the Ghana ambassador to France and the plane was carrying a load of Ghanian students returning from school in Paris to Rabat. The plane was piloted by a Russian Crew who all of sudden didn't speak any language. By this time the O.D. had arrived and interviewed the crew after reminding them to fly internationally they needed to read/speak and understand English. . He was able to determine they had been cleared to land at Rabat after reporting "Runway in Sight". The runway that they saw on that very clear night was ours and they thought they were landing at Rabat. The O.D. allowed the passengers to deplane and confined them to the cafeteria and rest rooms while the Russian crew contacted Rabat Airport. After about an hour, they all got back in the plane, and the tower, using light signals cleared them to taxi, then to take off. Afterward we all looked at each other and said, nobody's ever gonna believe this."
Side art on either a MATS C-118 or a VR-22 R5D???
Looking across the Sebou River to the hills. Unknown sailor on wing.
Click here for photographs of friends and scenes at Mehdia Beach
Click here for photographs of friends and scenes at the Cafe Royal Milk and Kenitra
Click here for photographs of friends and scenes at Des Oudaias
Click here for R4D Crash
Click here an unusual aircraft that landed at Port Lyautey