Sailor from King among 3 sailors attacked in Turkey


Mark Anthony Craddock Jr. (CNN)

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Mark Anthony Craddock Jr. (CNN)
Mark Anthony Craddock Jr. (CNN)

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- A U.S. Navy sailor from King was among the three sailors who were assaulted and had bags placed over their heads during a stop in Istanbul, Turkey.

Family members have identified the sailor as Mark Anthony Craddock Jr., a graduate of West Stokes High School.

The incident, captured on video, happened Wednesday when sailors from the USS Ross were attacked by members of the Turkish Youth Union, according to local Turkish press accounts.

"He called and said, ‘Dad I want you to know something happened here in Turkey but I'm OK,’" said Mark Craddock Sr. who received a phone call of assurance from his son around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, before the video was aired on worldwide news outlets. "Then he said he had to go and got off the phone."

Craddock Sr. and his wife Dee learned the full story and saw the video for themselves online around noon.

"The flesh reaction is fear and anger but then the peace of God comes in and give you peace about it," said Craddock Sr. "I was very proud of my son and the other sailors for not wanting to fight back as he's trained to diffuse the situation and get away as quickly as they could."

"US Navy officials are working with the embassy and NCIS to investigate the incident. The three sailors were unharmed and are safely back aboard. They did not require medical attention," Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman with U.S. European Command told CNN.

The assailants appeared to be neo-nationalists shouting slogans like "Yankee Go Home," according to local press accounts. They did not appear to be tied to ISIS, which is based in neighboring Syria.

"The incident does not reflect the hospitality nor the welcome reception our ships receive in port in Turkey," Hicks went on to say, and added that leave for sailors from the ship was canceled for the remainder of the day.

The Craddock's say their son was on a day pass when the attack happened and don't hold any anger toward the group of men. "It would be easy to hate these guys that did this but we feel for them," he said. "We love them and we hope their hearts turn right."

Craddock Jr., who graduated from West Stokes High School in 2007, plans to return home when his service in the Navy ends next year. The 25-year-old hopes to return to college and earn an engineering degree.

The United States Embassy in Ankara condemned the attack through its official Twitter feed.

'We condemn today's attack in Istanbul, and have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey's reputation for hospitality."

"He's my hero, I tell him that all the time," said Craddock Sr. "For him to put his life on hold to ensure our freedom is something we are proud of."

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