Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Kelly
So the announcement of assignments was my first public appearance in the Foreign Service. When they came to John Kelly, the State Department official mentioned a post without also specifying the country in which it was located. It was “Adana”, of which I had never heard. But since the klieg lights were on me, I looked wise and happy. But I was really quite embarrassed because I didn't know where Adana was; my classmates all seemed to know where their posts were. After the ceremony concluded, I very quietly sneaked away to the FSI Library to find out what and where Adana was. It turned out to be in Turkey, which delighted me and which became a very happy experience. After finding out where I was going, I rejoined my classmates for a riotous evening together with our spouses and friends. That evening, one of my classmates who had been assigned to Martinique, announced in a loud voice, after a couple of drinks, that he was not going to go to that backwater post because he was going to go a major capital where he could make foreign policy; he said that on Monday morning, he would march into the Department and tell them to cancel Martinique and to give him a real assignment. In fact, he did that and was given St. John's, Newfoundland, instead. The fellow who was supposed to go to St. John's went to Martinique much to his delight.
The Adana assignment was as vice-consul—the third officer of a three man post. For a while, I was somewhat envious of my colleagues who had managed assignments to the major capitals, but I was reading Harold Nicholson's Diplomacy and discovered that his first assignment had been to Adana. He noted that it was far better for a young officer to start his career in Adana because in a small post like that, he would learn to do all tasks whereas if he were to be the junior officer in a mighty delegation in Constantinople, he would be assigned only a tiny portion of the post's responsibilities. An officer at a large post would take years to learn what his colleague would learn in weeks in a small post. I think Nicholson was absolutely right.
Before leaving Washington, I attended the Near East study course, that lasted for three weeks. I also read every book on the area I could find. There was a lot of material about south and southeast Turkey, all of which I tried to absorb. I also talked to some people who had served in Turkey, including the desk, although I must say that he was far too busy to give me much time.