Escape from Turkey!

Turkish women shearing sheep
Turkish women shearing sheep
Incirlik, Turkey
Incirlik, Turkey

My Story

Why did I have to leave Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey within a week's time? A 19-year-old wife and mother of an 18-month old son with another on the way, the innocent "trouble" I got into labeled me a "fugitive" in Turkish newspapers after the Air Force got me out of there!

Here's my story. While my husband and I were stationed at Incirlik Air Force Base in 1983, I worked for XYZ American Company. My immediate supervisor's name was Mark. We reported to the CEO, Mr. McDonald. I'd met Mr. & Mrs. McDonald while singing at the Officer's Club. They told me about their dear Turkish friend who acted as their guide around town named Ali. Ali also took me downtown to shop a couple of times. Needless to say, we all knew each other.

In Turkey, there were no American phones, no cell phones either. Incirlik, unlike Istanbul, was the old historic part of Turkey. Women still wore scarves on their heads, sheered sheep and used washboards to clean clothing. Turks there still practiced public hangings in Adana, the nearest town with a small airport.

My husband received orders to go away on a temporary duty assignment (TDY) to Greece for three months. While he was gone, Mark invited me to join him, his wife Mary and Ali for dinner in Adana. I agreed to ride there in a taxi with Ali. While waiting at the bar for Mark and Mary I saw Antonio sitting there, too. Antonio also worked for XYZ American Company. He said he was also waiting to have dinner with Mark and Mary. Mr. McDonald was planning to attend as well.

We all enjoyed dinner together. I sat next to Mr. McDonald at our table. During dinner, he kept putting his hand on my knee. Not a big deal, I guess. McDonald asked me if I wanted to join everyone in going to see a belly dancing show after dinner. Of course! That sounded like fun! Next thing I know, it turns out only Ali, McDonald and I were going. I looked across the table at Mary and asked her to join me in the ladies' room. I told her about this and she said, "You're a big girl".

Ali and I got into McDonald's car. While McDonald walked around to the driver's side, Ali told me McDonald ordered him not to go. I quickly told Ali not to leave me with him. McDonald got in the car and said to Ali, "You sure you can't go with us?" He dropped Ali off. McDonald was my only ride home at this point. I was too scared to hail a taxi from a strange Turkish man to get me home. I probably wouldn't ever make it home.

During the belly dancing show, the lights suddenly went out and McDonald laid a big fat kiss on me. I asked him if he could please take me home. He agreed. Instead, he drove me to his house on base! We went inside and I sat down in a single chair to keep him from sitting next to me. He told me his wife was in the States due to their grandson's heart operation. Though I sat in the chair, he still made advances, so I pushed him off me and hurried to the kitchen to leave. The door was locked. He could see I was very upset and I insisted he take me home immediately, which he did. The only reason I wouldn't walk home alone is due to the fact I'd be going straight through the Turkish Army base in the middle of the night!

The next day, I reported this incident to base security. When McDonald's wife returned from the States, she was livid and started to make threatening phone calls to me! Shortly thereafter, Mark sat in the office telling everyone a story about McDonald and a Turkish woman named Nurheyat. He said McDonald met her at the racetrack and that Nurheyat got a job because of a relationship she and McDonald shared (insinuating a sexual type relationship). I never said a word to anyone.

Well, word got out because of Mark's mouth. In Turkey there is a law called The Insult Law. If anyone insults a Turkish National, he/she can be arrested! McDonald was in hot water again! In retaliation toward me, McDonald and Mark said I started the rumor. I even met with Nurheyat to tell her I couldn't have invented her name! She didn't know me and I didn't know her. Well, McDonald had money and money talks in Turkey.

Unbeknownst to me, Nurheyat and her husband hired a private investigator to come after me. The American legal office shared the same hut with the Turkish legal office. They got wind of what was about to transpire and called me in. I had to leave Turkey within a week without telling anyone. My husband couldn't come with me either. I took our son with me and safely got out.

As though this experience wasn't tragic enough, it turns out I made the Turkish newspapers after I left! They called me a fugitive! I can tell you, I never want to go back there. Turns out McDonald got fired, XYZ American Company lost the next contract, and McDonald's wife died a couple of years later. That's all I know.

So, Americans, be careful when visiting Incirlik, Turkey. You don't want to end up in a Turkish prison, a compound (prostitution house), or hanging from the gallows for simply being accused of starting a rumor! 

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Comments 5 comments

rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

So sorry for your bad experience Lamb. Seems to me from your last paragraph that you're blaming Incirlik Turkey when the blame would seem better placed on Mr. McDonald. I was stationed at Incirlik 1991-1994, 3 1/2 years. I loved it there. I was frequently TDY to Izmir, Ankara, and Iraklion Crete. I traveled alone, in a taxi, "with a strange Turkish man" several times a month, with no fear.


Shepherd's Lamb profile image

Shepherd's Lamb 6 years ago from Roseville, CA Author

rmcrayne, I'm so sorry if you perceived I was blaming Incirlik or Turkey in general. It was a beautiful place to live and I loved the people and food ~ their laws are a bit strange and can put Americans at risk. People traveling just need to be aware, as many do not intentionally break their laws, and the court system there is not the same as here ~ accusations alone can get you into serious trouble. Great to chat with another soldier that enjoyed the country!


Coloneltom 5 years ago

in 1971 while travelling in Turkey I was arrested and accused of insulting the Turkish Government, ( funny I cant speak a word of Turkish),spent a month on the run in the mountains and finally crashed my British Landrover over the military guarded, Meric river Bridge into Greece,lucky for me my steering wheel was on the right with a made up dummy on the left or I would not be here to tell the story, my advice to any tourist is stay out of Turkey


Shepherd's Lamb profile image

Shepherd's Lamb 5 years ago from Roseville, CA Author

Wow, Coloneltom! I guess we just didn't realize how dangerous a place we were entering, when we did. After all these years and following what is going on in that country, I wonder if there's simply not a bigger picture going on...the Islamic faith is paramount there and if one is not a participant, look out! Thank God we both got out safely and no, I can never go back...don't know if you'd ever risk it either. What a 'friendly' place...


Mac 2 years ago

An amazing story, I'm glad the US helped you get out of the country safely. I was stationed at Incirlik in 1985-'87, and it wasn't too bad. I remember an American pilot, flying an F-111, did a strafing run, at mach 1, and blew the windows out of several apartments in downtown Adana. The US government got him out of Turkey that same night. Good luck to you, it's always nice to hear about my old base.

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