Ask Mehmet: Victory Day

  • Published
  • By Mr. Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Victory Day is a national holiday celebrated Aug. 30. It's the day of the great and final victory of 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 national forces 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 crushed the better-armed and better-manned 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 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.

Seljuk Turks, commanded by Alpaslan, were confronted by the Byzantines at Malazgirt 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, After that victory, Turks conquered all Anatolia and made it their homeland.

The week of Aug. 26 is celebrated with military parades in the cities. Torch-light 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. As a result of the promotions, some assignments of high-ranking officers take place during that time of the year.

Aug. 30 is also when noncomissioned officers and officers enter the service after graduating from school and when new assignments are made.

Officers join the Turkish Air Force as second lieutenants after finishing the Turkish Air Force Academy, which lasts four years.

As you might know, military service is a must for Turkish males. At the age of 20, every Turkish male joins the armed forces for 12 months. Those are the askers.

Before being promoted to a new rank, officers should serve in the former rank for a pre-set number of years.

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

College graduates serve a total of 12 months compulsory military service in the armed forces. They serve as third lieutenants after three months of basic training.

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

Military history and service are big parts of the Turkish culture, and will all be celebrated on Victory Day.