A recent Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi graduate died in an ammunition depot explosion in western Turkey Thursday night.
The blast killed 25 Turkish soldiers, 26-year old Emrah Kartal, who graduated from TAMUCC with a master's degree in May.
According to reports, the explosion at the facility was triggered by an accident. The incident reportedly occurred as soldiers were conducting a regular exercise of counting and sorting the ammunition.
On Friday, Kartal's closest friends recounted all of the good times they spent with him. The fellow students he met here in Corpus Christi got to know him really well over the past three years, through the classes they took together and in being part of the Turkish Student Association.
Kartal's friends showed a backpack and coffee mug he left behind before heading back to Turkey. They also shared some special photos of happier times, and they said Kartal had lots of hopes and dreams for the future.
"Like all of us, he had dreams to have a family, to have kids," his best friend Burc Koksal said. "He told me what he would name his son if he had one."
Koksal and Kartal were actually both from the same town in Turkey, but met for the first time here in Corpus Christi. So they had a really unique and strong bond.
Friends said Kartal majored in political science and international relations for his undergraduate degree, and had plans to work in government and become a diplomat. That's why he was anxious to return to Turkey and complete his military service, which is required for all male citizens in his country, so he could begin his career.
A memorial service to honor Emrah Kartal will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, at the Trevino Funeral Home at 3006 Niagara Street. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and it is open to the public.
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