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Ask Mehmet: Victory Day

silhouette of Turkish soldier saluting with Turkish flag

Victory Day is a Turkish national holiday that's celebrated on Aug. 30 each year. It's the day of the great and final victory between national Turkish forces over Greek invaders in 1922. The Ottoman Empire, which was in power for almost 600 years, was on the losing side of World War I. After the war, Turkey was divided and occupied by British, French, Italian and Greek troops. Since the Ottoman Empire had no power to resist the occupation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk sparked the War of Independence and established a national Turkish force to drive foreign forces out of the country. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Tech. Sgt. Andrea Salazar)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

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Question: What is Victory Day?

Victory Day is a Turkish national holiday that's celebrated on Aug. 30 each year. It's the day of the great and final victory between national Turkish forces over Greek invaders in 1922.

The Ottoman Empire, which was in power for almost 600 years, was on the losing side of World War I. After the war, Turkey was divided and occupied by British, French, Italian and Greek troops.

Since the Ottoman Empire had no power to resist the occupation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk sparked the War of Independence and established a national Turkish force to drive foreign forces out of the country.

After a long and tough struggle, Turkish and Greek forces converged along the shores of the Sakarya River. The battle was along a 100-kilometer front. During the battle, Ataturk told his troops, "There is no line of defense, but an area of defense ... and that area is the whole country. Not one inch of the country is to be abandoned until it is drenched with Turkish blood."

For 22 days, forces fought chest-to-chest without interruption until Turkish forces defeated the more-equipped Greek army. This great victory led the Turkish troops to launch a final attack to clear the country of enemy troops.

On Aug. 26, 1922, the Turks started the attack in Afyon, and after four days of fighting, the Turks won one of their largest victories. The victory was a turning point in Turkey's history and was responsible for the founding the free Republic of Turkey.

Turkish history is filled with victories in August. One of the most notable one is the Malazgirt (Manzikert) victory.

The battle of Manzikert (Malazgirt), 944 years ago, can be seen as one of the turning points of world history. Seljuk Turks, commanded by Alpaslan, confronted the Byzantines at Malazgirt (Manzikert) in eastern Turkey on Aug. 26, 1071. The 55,000 Turkish warriors won a great victory against 200,000 Byzantine troops commanded by the emperor, Romanus Diogenus. The Seljuks captured the emperor and after the battle, Anatolia opened to Turkish settlement and rule after that victory, Turks conquered all of Anatolia and made it their homeland.

As part of the Aug. 30 celebration, all promotions in the Turkish armed forces are made on this date each year. As a result of the promotions, some assignments of high-ranking officers take place during that time of the year.

Moreover, Aug. 30 is also when noncommissioned officers and officers enter the service after graduating from school and when new assignments are given.

The week of Aug. 26 is celebrated with military parades in the cities and torch-lit parades wrap up the day's observances.

Also, all promotions in the Turkish Armed Forces are made on the same day of the year, Aug. 30.

All noncommissioned and commissioned officers enter the service Aug. 30, and are given new assignments after graduating from school. Officers join the Turkish Air Force as second lieutenants after finishing the Turkish Air Force Academy, which lasts four years.

Noncommissioned officers join the armed forces after finishing military high school and start as E-3s. They put on a stripe every three years for the first two promotions and every six years for the following promotions.

The High Military Council convenes in the first week of August every year. Promotions of colonels to generals, generals to a higher rank, and the reassignments of the generals are decided by the High Military Council headed by the president.