Who is Jason Dement?

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Born 16 February 1983 in Lumberton, MS.  Graduated Purvis High School in 2001.  Joined US Army in August 2001 and served 6 years overseas.  Currently lives in Germany with his family and works as a civilian on a US Army Military Installation at Katterbach Army Airfield.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Part 1 - The End of a Vacation / The Beginning of a Nightmare [Updated - Contains photos]

Sunday, 14 April 2013 - PART 1
Antalya, Turkey

Sheila and I spent 6 days in Turkey, most of our time was at the Jasmine Beach Hotel in
T├╝rkler - Alanya.  We had a great time in Turkey and enjoyed delicious food and friendly local culture.  We arrived in the off season, most beaches not yet clean and tidy, and experienced less than perfect weather conditions during the first three days.  Our beach was covered in rocks and rubble, some trash and other things: not much sand, not as you would expect on a beach and the waves were crashing in a bit too hard to enjoy any R&R so we strolled the beach looking for rocks.  We have made it a point to collect some rocks and/or sand from every country we go to.  Eventually, on about the third day, the weather cleared up and the vacation season arrived with hotel employees working overtime through the night to get everything nice and shapely.  The rest of our vacation was sunny and beautiful and I was even able to manage a tan.

(Edit:  I forgot to mention a few things:  Hotel employees watched us picking up rocks for two days, served us drinks on the beach, and just smiled away.  None of them were aware that what we were doing could have gotten us in trouble.  /  Also of note is the fact that when they started working over night to clean up the beach, once night they had a bulldozer push the rocks and trash and things all the way to one end before removing them, essentially flattening the beach.  Another night, they brought in loads of sand and covered the beach with it.  The entire beach was covered in tracks and such and it took another couple of days for it to look like a real beach)

On our day of departure, all of our great experiences in Turkey were easily forgotten (for the moment).  Immediately after entering the doorway at Terminal 2 Departures, you'll find yourself in a security checkpoint.  There's an xray belt for your bags and a metal detector to walk through, all of it pretty standard stuff.  There were however, no signs or amnesty points to prepare us for what happened next.  Our luggage was pulled off the belt and I was ordered to open it.  A security guard pulled out the plastic baggie of rocks we had collected and dumped them out/sorted through them all.  Two of them he expressed much interest in and called other colleagues over.  No one would respond to my inquiries about what was going on.  Soon the security chief arrived and asked for our passports and we were escorted over to a waiting area.  The security guards, employees of Securitas, didn't speak English.  They led me to an information desk where one of the ladies did and she translated for them.  It was there that I discovered that they believed two of my stones to be historical artifacts.  The girl doing the translating told me that they would be sending the stones to a local museum historian to verify whether or not they were indeed historical artifacts. (initially, they didn't send the physical stones, rather they sent a high resolution photo)  Bear in mind, this is around 11:00 PM on a Sunday night.  She said I would not be boarding my plane.  In fact I could end up in trouble and get banned from Turkey.  Sheila and I are stressing out, no one else giving us any information when finally they came over to ask "who the stones belonged to".  I quickly stated they were mine and shortly after they told Sheila she was free to catch her flight.  She didn't have to stay.  We weren't prepared for that of course, so unprepared.  We quickly decided that was the best since our children needed their mom back.  Our luggage was all combined so we were rapidly trying to separate the important things that each of us needed and then I got a brief kiss before they whisked her away.
(Edit:  I ended up with the suit case that was mostly full of Sheila's things and a few articles of my dirty clothes.  What luck right?)
So I found myself sitting next to an information desk.  So very alone... waiting for the Turkish Police to show up.  They finally showed up 20 minutes later (Our flight was supposed to leave at 11:50PM and I'm still hopeful to make it).  They lead me back to a tiny room with a desk and chairs in it.  There were 5 police officers and a couple of Securitas employees, all of them talking amongst themselves, ignoring me, typing, printing and retyping an printing documents.  Over and over.  Then they had a travel guide speaking English stop in to be a witness, briefly read the document to inform me that I was found to have been carrying historical stones and then I had to sign the papers.  Time kept stretching by and by and eventually, the flight was ready to depart.  Sheila was forced to give up waiting at the gate and board the plane without me.  It was so very hard.  I had been watching the time on my phone tick painfully by and just hoping and hoping they would let me catch my flight.  To read that last message from Sheila saying that her plane was leaving and how hard it was... it was pretty heartbreaking.
In the hours to come, I really lost track of time.  Other policemen came and decided the papers weren't correct so they had to be redone and this time the travel agent couldn't be found so they just nabbed some random Securitas guy who said he spoke English.  He was forced to be my police assigned translator but the poor guy couldn't communicate with me as well as he would like... I was always guessing at what he was saying and some of the things they wanted him to tell me, I was sure I only got a small part of.

(I would like to say, if he ever reads my blog, I just want him to know that I appreciate his kindness and his attempts to help me, a stranger, in that difficult time)

We did finally end up leaving the airport:  I was loaded into a police van with my luggage and my Securitas translator and we were bussed off to the local Police precinct within the airport grounds. 

The following photos were taken at the beach in front of our hotel where we collected rocks the first couple of days.





Continued in Part 2

51 comments:

  1. Jason...the paypal widget is not showing up for us to send you some funds. Dave Thomas

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    1. Of course after I sent the above message it appears.

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    2. Thank you so much! The one widget doesn't seem to want to work always. I tried to leave 3 different ways to donate just because of that but I think it's just going to be problematic as it wants to. I will try and keep everything updated here, thanks again, love you guys

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  2. Jason, i'm a cruise friend of David Thomas, and I'm so very sorry you are having to go through this. I wish I could donate more, and I hope you get out of there SOON, and back to your family! God bless you!!

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    1. Thank you so much Sheri for your kindness. You've helped more than you can imagine and my family and I are very grateful!

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    2. Next time you have some free time...
      you're going hiking in Iran, right?

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    3. I love hiking but I don't have a mine collection ;)

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  3. Hi Jason I know your wife, I am sooo sorry you are going thru this and I hope you will be back with your family ASAP, my prayers go out to you, sorry I couldn't give more but I guess every little bit helps!!!! hang in there !!!!

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    1. Thank you Stephanie, we appreciate every little kindness ... it means the world to our family

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  4. Jason I wish I could do more.. but every little bits helps.. You and your wife are so very nice and carrying people.. I can't imagine what you must be going through ... I wish you both speedy return home together. .. Dee

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    1. Thank you oh so very much Dee. We are both very thankful

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  5. Hoping the modest donation can help out somehow. Praying you make it back soon!

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    1. I am very thankful and Sheila as well. I am finding it hard to find adequate words to say thanks for these kindnesses.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Cam, Ozan (Mr.)
    Address : Resatbey Mah. 7 Sokak Mine Apt. Kat:1/1 Adana
    Tel : 0 322 459 8541
    Fax : 0 322 458 7545
    Mobile : 0532 205 3000
    E-mail : ozancam@cam-takoglu.av.tr
    University : Ankara University, Faculty of Law
    Specialty : General Law
    Languages : English and French

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    1. Thank you Inan, I will look into this lawyer as well. I'm not yet sure how far he is located from the city of Antalya where I am. The US Embassy wasn't much help but I just spoke to the Legal office on a nearby US Military Installation and I believe they are going to help me find a lawyer.

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  8. Hey Jason your news has reached me out here in Cali, which means its spreading through Facebook thanks to all our friends in Ansbach. I have also sent messages to three major News stations hopefully someone will pick it up and snag a big fish? Maybe get you that lawyer pro-bono? prayers to you and your family!

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    1. Krystle, it is amazing to hear that and it feels me with happiness and hope that things will work out positively for my family. Thank you so much for going out of your way to share my story. Thank you from the bottom of my heart

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  9. We're working the softball folks for you guys, Jason. Hopefully we can get some help flowing very quickly. Hugs to you all!

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    1. Hi Kelley - I just wanted to say that I am moved by your support and I can't thank you enough for what you've done and are doing. Sheila and I are moved to tears ... hugs to you as well

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  10. Is there an organization on in Ansbach where you can give the money directly to someone?

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    1. Thank you so much for asking. We don't currently have an organization set up to do so. Sheila is working weekends in Illesheim at the Fitness Center. I don't think any organizations would be authorized to take money like that.

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  11. I think this is so insane. That it had to be escalated so far, and not just a slap on the wrist. It's crazy to think that you couldn't just admit to the mistake and they would take the rocks and be fine with it. I am sure this kind of thing happens to people all the time.

    I will try and put this out wherever I can. Hopefully that will help in some way, even if minimally.

    Best of luck J.

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    1. Thank you so much Adrienne. I also find it way over board, very extreme over a dumb rock. I've been told it happens all the time. You'd figure they'd have signs and warnings posted but there's nothing.
      I'm so grateful for your help and for spreading the word.

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  12. I have copied a link to this blog on my FB page, along with an explanation that I know your aunt and uncle and can vouch for the story...someone needs to contact FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, etc, and maybe get this story aired! I'm so sorry you are going through this!

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    1. Thank you so much Sheri. I appreciate the support and all of the kind words and positive reinforcement you guys are offering.

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  13. Why are you not at the US embassy?? They will help you.

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    1. That's what I thought too. Turns out, the embassy's vocal translation of my preliminary court papers over the phone to me weren't entirely correct and have cost me valuable days. Additionally, the list of local lawyers they provided was from 2009, severely outdated and unusable. I received more help from the Legal Office on base at Incirlik

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  14. Jason, I am coming from Adrienne's blog. I am so sorry this has happened. I have posted about you on my own personal blog and as soon as I am finished with this comment, I will be calling my local news station here in Florida. Hope this ends soon and you are back with your family ASAP!!

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    1. Thank you so much Natalie. Your kindness is appreciated more than words can describe and I will be forever grateful :')

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    2. Hello Jason. I have contacted 2 news stations here in Florida. One is in Tampa and the other is in Orlando. I hope this helps in some way! I will be praying for you and your safe return to your family.

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    3. Hi Natalie, just read your post and wanted to thank you!

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  15. i really dont understand this trouble bout some stones. i dont understand why they dont take these historical stones away then in a museum or what not or block this beach if its such a big deal if some stones are missing. are they doing those things on purpose? that is really unbelievable that it isnt good enough to apologize and they got the stone back and thats it.... why making such a big deal out of this and why they dont let ppl espically tourist know what s allowed and what not. putting warning signs down there at this area and all of that. this happende years ago to a german guy too. i guess they like getting tourist in trouble down there cuz of ..... you can think why. i hope you and ur family have the strength til u got back home and i hope you guys get the money together soon. i am sorry this has happened. hope this is over soon.

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    1. Thank you so much Nicole: I enjoyed reading your comment and I totally agree with you. There is a complete lack of communication on their part in explaining/declaring that they consider it illegal to remove a stone.
      You support and concern is very much appreciated.

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  16. Stay strong Jason!! We are all thinking of you and your sweet lady!!

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  17. I was previously stationed at Incirlik and loved my time in Turkey. So glad that Filiz and the legal office there were able to help you out ... they can work wonders!

    Good luck!

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I was incredibly grateful, still am, and very appreciative of their help. I enjoyed Turkey too until the detainment ;)

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  18. We went to school together and I'm so sorry to hear what is happening to you and your family. I'm praying for you all and that this will be over real soon so you can be back with your wife and children.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words friend :)

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  19. Hi Jason im Sheila's friend from PR Im praying for u and I hope you can came back to her and your kids quickly. Don't loose your faith, stay strong and keep doing all your post. I send u a big hug from Puerto Rico :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Ibia - I'm very thankful for your comment and kind words. I hope I get to come back soon, hugs to you as well

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  20. I am terribly sry to hear this. I have shared your story and im getting the word out as much as i can. I too was detained about a month ago but i was in London. They had me in a room for six hours with a terrorist that was threatening to bomb the airport. They had absolutely no reason to have me detained. They had to let me go back to the states bc they had nothing on me. The papers they gave me had no reason as to why they detained me. I have never been in trouble with the law either. I was transported by armed guards in a van to board my flight back. I was treated like i was a terrorist. I believe it was profiling bc i was a 35 yr old woman traveling alone. I dont know how u are feeling but i know the feeling of being trapped. Its not a good feeling at all. I am sending prayers your way and hope you go home soon and safely. :)

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your experiences at the airport. I know it was terrible for you and no one should have to ever feel that way. At the moment, in the safety of my hotel, I'm doing much better but it's even hard to write about my detainment experiences because I was so scared through the whole process and had no clue what was happening. It's still emotional. Thank you so much for sharing and for you kind words.

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  21. I read your story online, what you are going through happens in the US too.

    You need a lawyer who speaks English well and who is a local. But it is up to you also to convince the authorities that you are sincere and it never crossed your mind that you would be in trouble because you picked up some stones from the beach nearby your hotel.

    If the judge sees your sincerity you would be set free.

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    1. I just wanted you to know that I totally appreciate your comment. Thanks for stopping by to share it. Just today I have an official lawyer whom will help me and I feel really good about the chances I'll have at court.
      I will certainly be sincere and I hope it turns out good for my family.

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  22. Jason I am Uncle David's Mother. Just wanted to say keep the faith and that you are loved. Hope you will be with your family soon. Love Fran

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    1. Thank you so much Ma'am. I am grateful for your kindness and your thoughts. I remember meeting you when I was a young boy. It is wonderful to hear from you.
      Jason

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  23. I have shared your story on www.facebook.com/prayerlist777, a page that I admin. It reaches thousands! I live in Petal, MS. Do you know if anyone has designed and are selling t-shirts for your cause in the area? That's always a good profit margin.

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    1. Mandy,

      I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing with your page. I haven't heard of anyone doing T-shirts yet. There've been talks of fun run fundraisers and things like that but t-shirts would be new. Someone did tell me yesterday that they wanted one.

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  24. I'll ask around. If no one has one in the making, I'll do it. I have a friend at Custom Creations. :)

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