Mecit Çetinkaya was born in Kelkit, in Eastern Anatolia in 1912 (1328). His father Abdullah, who was one of the notable individuals in the village, his mother Havva, his brothers and sisters Melek, Fatma, Felek, Nigar, Mustafa and his uncle İbrahim were killed just before his eyes at one of the attacks by Armenian gangs to his village, and he was left all alone in this life at the age of 5 as the youngest member of the family.
Orphan Mecit was sent to the state orphanage located near the Poor House (Darülaceze), now in Okmeydanı, Istanbul upon orders of Kazım Karabekir Pasha in 1917. Kazım Karabekir Pasha brought the children whose parents had reached martyrdom before and after the independence war together, built a home for them and paid close attention to their education and upbringing. These orphans, referred to as “Kids with Blue Shirts” in the history, were raised and trained as valuable craftsmen in special work centers in order to contribute to the economy of the country. Mecit Çetinkaya is one of the fortunate children whose path was crossed with these orphanages and who was able to serve his country and nation thanks to the education provided there.
However Mecit needed warmth of a family due to his very young age, and following a short period of training among the “Kids with Blue Shirts” under the state’s control, was taken from the orphanage and adopted by a family living at Çeşme Square (Galata). But, when that family realized that they could not take care of little Mecit due to pressing economical hardships, they gave Mecit to their relatives İsmail and Fatma Bozkurt living in Çercille (Gökbel) village of Inebolu, who did not have any child just like them, as foster child under the state guarantee in 1918. That family formally adopted little Mecit and registered him as their lawful child.
Mecit, whose destiny took him from Kelkit (Gümüşhane) district of Erzurum as a child to the Çercille Village located at the skirts of the İsfendiyar Mountains of İnebolu Evrenyesi, spent his childhood in this village, and began to gain experience in seamanship while working as a lighterman for captains involved in shipping business in İnebolu. When he was 18 years old, he married with Hatice one of four daughters of Veteran Kadir Aga, who was known as Barbarossa of the Black Sea, and Kamile Tepe in 1930. He then began working as a lighterman for his father in law. Thanks to his talent and courage, he learned seamanship and began to sail for long distance voyages on board the old sailing boat of his father in law. Without a doubt, his early start in this profession had a great affect on him for learning seamanship quickly. Also natural structure of İnebolu and Evrenye, where many people were trained to work for Ottoman marine and sea transportation for centuries, had an influence on his training. Captain Mecit, who continued to work as a lighterman after getting married, increased his experience in sea transportation for many years. He mentioned in his diaries written in the subsequent years about how he had dreamt of growing his business in the future during his short and long voyages in lighters. Being a visionary, İnebolu and Evrenye started to look too small for Captain Mecit. He had already seen Istanbul and his love for the city was established in his heart during his time while living with his foster parents at Çeşme Square. Who would have thought that Mecit, who as a child looked at small boats, lighters and other sea transportation vehicles with sympathy, would come to these places once again?
With such thoughts and blues, he left the Çercille Village and joined the army in 1935 to serve for his much loved country and the flag. He performed his military service as cavalier at Thrace region for 4 years.