Bernadette Van Gils, 28, the Dutch fiance of a Turkish soldier who was killed in an anti-terror operation eight years ago, made an emotional visit to his grave yesterday. Van Gils was engaged to Murat Karaman when the young man was killed in action in 2007 while serving his compulsory military service. Since then, she honors his memory every year by traveling to his hometown of Osmaniye in southern Turkey.
The couple met in Antalya, a popular holiday resort, one year before Karaman left for Şırnak in the southeast for his military service. She was devastated when he was killed in an operation targeting terrorists from the PKK. Van Gils returned to the Netherlands but every year she travels more than 3,000 kilometers to join the Karaman family in commemoration of her fiance.
Yesterday she was with Murat's parents at his grave and laid carnations. This is her eighth trip to Osmaniye for Murat, who she says is "someone I will never forget," and she promised to visit the grave every year. Bernadette, or Berna as her fiance's family called her, vowed not to remarry while Murat's parents say she became like a daughter to them. "I am so happy to host her here every year and so sad when she has to return home," Murat's mother, Hatice, said.