Following the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, 20 year-old Andrew A. Athens immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army in January of 1942. Just 42 days after his enlistment, he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Rising to the rank of Captain, he fought with Allied Forces in Europe and at the famous Battle of El-Alamein in Egypt with the British Eighth Army. In 1945, he was honored with the Bronze Star and the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for his outstanding military service. He received the highest awards from the countries of Belgium, Hungary and Greece for his leadership in the reconstruction of war torn cities, including the rebuilding of the transportation system in Hungary. Mr. Athens met his wife Louise DeCoster, while stationed in Belgium. They were married November 12, 1945, 66 years ago, at the only Greek Orthodox Church in Brussels at that time.
Nicholas J. Bouras enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. By the end of 1945, he had attained the rank of Major, had flown forty-four combat missions in the European theater as the lead bombardier/navigator in B-26 and A-26 bombers, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, eight Air Medals and five Battle Stars. After his discharge from the service, he returned to his work in the steel industry. He has received numerous awards for his philanthropic and humanitarian work.
As a Staff Sergeant in the 422nd Regiment of the 106th Army Infantry Division, Sam Bouras spent the beginning of his military career stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. In December 1944, Sergeant Bouras was sent overseas to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was captured and held as a Prisoner of War. In March 1945, Sergeant Bouras tragically died in German captivity. He was later buried at Golden Gate National Military Cemetery, near San Francisco, California. At the young age of 25, Sergeant Bouras gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Euthimios N. Chimicles was an infantryman in the U.S. Army 4th Division that landed at Utah Beach June 6, 1944 in the invasion of Normandy. He served with his older brother George N. Chimicles, who was a technical sergeant in the intelligence unit of the 4th Division. He is the father of Nick Chimicles.
After graduating from Texas A&M College in 1943, Mike P. Cokinos entered active military service for the United States Army. His first assignment was as a Forward Observer in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. During World War II, he also participated in major engagements in the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. On occupation day in Austria, his primary duty was to supervise and control 100,000 displaced persons in the Cumberland Area of Austria. He retired from military service as a Brigadier General, AUS, in 1980. His list of decorations includes the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, WW2-European Theater with 3 Battle Stars, Occupational Medal (Germany) and the American Defense. He is the father and father-in-law of Maria and Chris Pappas, respectively.
Dionissios Daoussis enlisted in the Greek Army in 1939 and served at the Albanian border when Greek forces repelled the Italian invasion attempt following Oxi Day. He was fatally wounded in action and died on November 7, 1940 at the age of 22.
Dionissios’ older brother, Spyros, joined the Greek Navy in 1932 and served in the Greek Merchant Marine from 1934 to 1942. With the onset of WWII, during convoy duties, he survived numerous attacks and three ship sinkings. Following his rescue from a sinking by a German U-boat in 1942, he joined the United States Merchant Marines. On December 30th 1943 Spyros joined the United States Navy and in May of 1944, he became a US citizen.
Spyros served as a Machinist’s Mate on the USS Hadley. On May 11, 1945, the Hadley and its escort ships came under heavy fire off the coast of Okinawa. The crew shot down 23 planes, including 3 kamikaze planes that crashed into the Hadley, in 95 minutes, an all-time gunnery record for a single engagement. The Hadley was critically damaged and Spyros was severely injured with shrapnel to his head and third degree burns over most of his body. Shipmates expected he would die, yet Spyros survived and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Spyros made the United States his permanent home, studied in Los Angeles, became a Mechanical Engineer, and worked for the US government until he retired.
George Chris George was a signalman in the US Navy during WWII and was stationed in the South Pacific. He served under Fleet Admiral William Halsey, Jr., the commander of the United States Third Fleet who is recognized for his participation and leadership in the Solomon Islands Campaign, the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. George served from 1942-1946. He is the grandfather of Dana Edwards Manatos.
Dennis Georges, a member of the Greek Resistance Army, was chosen at the age of 19 to lead a guerilla movement against the Germans and Italians during WWII in the Kalamata and southern Peloponnese areas of Greece. Dennis ran his guerrilla bands with a cool dexterity and continued to “abuse” the Italians and Germans with many close calls, all the while hiding out in the ruins of a ghost village located in the mountains above the village of Arfara. He eventually joined the Royal Greek Air Force and served after the war, eventually fighting in Korea. He is the father of John D. Georges.
During his time as a Captain in the US Army, John Giannaris lead an all Greek unit, GROUP II, behind German lines in Greece during the summer of 1944. GROUP II, a twenty-two man guerilla outfit, and their fearless leader, Captain Giannaris, successfully orchestrated the withdrawal of German troops from the Valley of Lamia in Greece. In September of 1944, Captain Giannaris stepped on a German Teller mine, which nearly ended his life. After the removal of some 300 pieces of shrapnel and two and a half years of recuperation, Captain Giannaris was discharged from the Army. He later published the book Yannis which includes many details about his mission in World War II.
John Halachis retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel where his career was divided between flying as a weapons officer/navigator in F4s and in the field of human intelligence gathering assignments. In the span of his career, he was assigned to Germany, Vietnam and Greece on three occasions, mostly in the capacity of Air Attaché. But before all this began, he had a four-year tour in the U.S. Navy where he was assigned to the Joint Military Advisory Group in Greece at the outset of the Marshall Plan.
Congressman Ralph M. Hall is one of only two remaining members of Congress who served in World War II. Congressman Hall joined the U.S. Navy in 1942, and attained the rank of lieutenant aircraft carrier pilot. Congressman Hall left in the U.S. Navy in 1945, but his service to his country did not stop. Once he was back in his home state of Texas, the Congressman held several local and state level positions until he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980. He has been proudly serving Texas’ 4th District.
John Katsaros was a U.S. Army Air Force Sergeant and served as an aerial engineer, gunner and photographer on B-17 bombers in the 8th Air Force. In March 1944, Katsaros’ plane was shot down over Frankfurt, Germany. He suffered severe wounds and was pursued and captured by the Gestapo. He later escaped with the assistance of the French Resistance. Katsaros chronicled his exploits in a book, Code Burgundy-The Long Escape.
Anestis, James & Nicholas were three brothers who served during WWII. Anestis served in Patton’s third army as a tank sergeant in North Africa and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. James and Nicholas served in the U.S. Navy. (First photo: Anestis (L) & James (R); Second photo: Nicholas)
Dr. Anthony Kollias
Dr. Anthony Kollias immediately enlisted in the Greek Army, joining the medical corps. During the war, he was twice awarded Greece’s highest medal of valor, the Silver Cross, for his heroism on the front lines. Under German gunfire, he was able to pull a wounded superior to safety and exhibited uncommon bravery. In addition to this recognition, the Greek government awarded Dr. Kollias with a third medal of honor in 1949. His heroic actions led to his promotion in the field to a medical officer; however, he turned this down because he had not yet completed his medical studies and felt it was not right. Remarkably, Dr. Kollias also hid a Jewish family for months in the cellar of his rural home in Peloponessos during the German occupation.
Lieutenant General Konstantinos Korkas is a four star general who spent his career serving in the Greek Army in multiple capacities earning numerous commendations for his valiant service. During World War II, Korkas participated in the 1941 Battle of Crete in Greece. He later served from 1942-1945 in the Greek Army’s elite special forces unit known as the “Greek Sacred Company”. As part of this unit, Korkas participated in actions in North Africa, the Middle East and the Islands of the Aegean. Korkas was wounded twice in action during the war. Korkas is a graduate of the Hellenic Military Academy and received further education at the US Industrial College of the Armed Forces and US Army Command and General Staff College. He served in numerous positions during his Greek military career including Army Inspector General, NATO Staff Officer and Defense Attache of Greece in Hungary and Romania. His career decorations include the British Medal of Honor (1944) and the French Medal of the National Order of Merit (1978). He is also an eight-time recipient of the War Cross, six-time recipient of the Golden Medal for Valor and has one promotion on bravery. Lieutenant General Korkas is now retired and lives in Athens with his wife Vivi and his family.
Antonios Markos Kounalakis, served as a member of the Cretan Resistance Freedom Fighters under the direction of both Cretan and British generals from 1941 to 1945 along with his three brothers. The first meeting for the formation of the National Resistance of Greece took place in June, 1941 at their home in Vrises, Apokoronou, Crete. Antonios served in the resistance throughout the war, delivering key intelligence throughout Crete and abroad to allies in Egypt. He is proud of his fellow Cretans, men and women, who fought hand in hand for their freedom and for the freedom of all mankind. He is the father of Markos and Diane Kounalakis and father-in-law of U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos.
During the war, Dimitrios Kouvaris volunteered in the Greek Army despite being an American citizen. From August 1942 to 1944, he fought many battles against the Axis forces. He survived a German firing squad when a bullet hit him in the shoulder and he was left for dead. An excellent swimmer, Kouvaris led British commandos in the operation that was depicted in the movie The Guns of Navarone. A generous man, he donated his official compensation from the Greek government, keeping only his certificate of service for his contribution to the liberation of Europe. He is the father-in-law of Philip Christopher.
Peter N. Kyros served in the U.S. Navy from December 1943 to June 1954. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. During his service, he was stationed on a destroyer in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. He later served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 1st Congressional District of Maine.
Eddie Lambros was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. He participated in the invasion of Normandy. The picture he appears in was taken on June 8, 1944 and was published in the New York Times. Lambros was killed in battle the day after the photo was taken. He received two Purple Hearts and the Medal of Valor for his service. Lambros was the uncle of Maria Allwin.
Georgios P. Logothetis served in the Greek Army as an artillery man between 1938 and 1940, and he was called to serve upon the general mobilization in October 1940. His artillery unit backed the Greek fighters in the mountains of Pindos, driving back the Italian Army into the Albanian countryside. He lost his hearing in one ear when a bomb exploded next to him. He was buried until his Greek soldier friends were able to remove the ground and free him. Logothetis immigrated to the United States in 1966 with his family and became a proud American citizen in 1975. He is the father of Jim Logothetis.
Tom Manatos was part of Patton’s Third Army and held the rank of lieutenant. While in France and Germany, he was in charge of logistics for field hospitals. This involved the actual packing and moving of field hospitals with large truck convoys as well as the setting up of hospitals that cared for wounded troops. He is the uncle of Andy Manatos.
Aristedes Mavrovitis, from Mavrohori, Kastoria, Greece, served as a corporal in the Greek forces that fought the Albanians and Italians in the mountains following the initial invasion of Greece during WWII. The book “The Epic of 1940-1941,? (Kadmos Press, Thessaloniki), a military history that chronicles the days following Oxi Day and the courage of the people of Kastoria and other nearby villages, is based on the diary Mavrovitis kept during the conflict. His journal ends with the occupation of Kastoria by the German army.
Christopher Mehiel, at the age of 20, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force prior to the entry into WWII and was trained as a pilot. When the U.S. entered the war, he transferred to the Army Air Corps and was deployed to the Far East where he flew C-47 aircraft over “The Hump” between China and India. Discharged after the war, he rejoined the Army and had a long career in military intelligence, serving in posts all over the world. He retired in 1972 as a Lieutenent Colonel. He is the father of Dennis Mehiel.
James H. Moshovitis was born and raised in Washington, DC. He served in the U.S. Navy as a radioman from 1943 to 1946. He was involved in action at Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, Guam, Tulagi and Manila Bay. Moshovitis was also on the first ship that arrived in Tokyo Bay on V-J Day. Today, he is involved in the restaurant and real estate business in Washington, DC. He supports many philanthropic causes for the Greek Orthodox Church, including Leadership 100 and FAITH.
Nicholas A. Natsios was one of five Natsios brothers who served in WWII – two in the Army, two in the Air Force and one in the Navy. He enlisted in the U.S. Army following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1943. He served in North Africa and Italy, and was commissioned as a Captain in the Counter Intelligence Corps. A specialist in counter espionage, he participated in numerous operations against German efforts and in 1946 was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his achievements in the Mediterranean theater. He was honorably discharged in May 1961. His career awards and decorations include the U.S. Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Cross of Military Valor, and the Cross of Military Merit of Italy, Knight Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Knight Commander of the Order of St. George, the Distinguished Service Cross 1st Class of the Knights of Malta, the Distinguished Service Medal of Greece, and the Order of Service Merit of Korea. A graduate of Ohio State University and Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Natsios continued to serve the American government another 29 years in overseas posts. He was the uncle of Andrew Natsios.
John P. Nionakis joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in the 75th Infantry Division. His tour of duty included the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe, and he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In 1946, he was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal. He is the father of Dimitri Nionakis.
In 1942 at the age of 16, George Dimitrios Orfanoudis secretly left his family and hometown of Flatsia in Chios, Greece to fight for his country. George and a few of his friends took a small boat in the cover of darkness across the four-mile distance to Turkey, and eventually ended up in Egypt which was then part of the British-controlled Middle East. There, George joined the Hellenic Royal Navy which had been placed under the Royal Government in Exile. George served on a destroyer in the Hellenic Royal Navy for the duration of World War II on convoy escort missions throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. He achieved the rank of chief petty officer. Following the war, George completed 15 years of service in the Greek Merchant Marine.
A decorated U.S. Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, George T. Panichas served as a tail gunner in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, completing 50 missions over enemy occupied Europe. He received the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, three Battle Stars for service in the European theatre, the Presidential Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster, and a personal citation from the commanding general of the 15th Air Force. In 2000, Panichas received the ‘Special Diploma’, awarded by the French government to soldiers of the Allied Forces for their contribution in the fight to liberate France in World War II. In October 2008, the State of Rhode Island dedicated the Veterans Memorial Cemetery administration building in his honor. Panichas was the first Greek-American elected to state office in Rhode Island.
Panagiotis M. Sakellaris joined the Greek military at the age of 21. Following the Axis invasion of Greece in 1940, Sakellaris was called to active duty and deployed to the Albanian front, where he played a key role in the successful counter offensive against the invading forces. During the war, Sakellaris, nicknamed “The Last Horseman,” served as a highly trained forward observer on horseback. His assignment was to conduct reconnaissance in advance of troop movements to be sure that the rest of the troops could move forward in safety. In this role, he was in constant danger of being discovered by Axis troops and his small reconnaissance group was often left largely defenseless. He is the father of George Sakellaris.
Dimitri N. Staikos
Dimitri N. Staikos was a student in the Chemistry Department at the University of Athens when he was called to serve his country. After a short training, he was sent to a hospital to work in its laboratory. Following the German invasion, he continued his work at the hospital as a civilian until the Germans took over the facility and dismissed him and the other staff members. After receiving his diploma, he joined the Greek Navy as a Warrant Officer and researcher.
Colonel George Stavridis enlisted during World War II and fought in Korea and Vietnam, winning the bronze star and many other combat decorations. He commanded the First Marine Battalion at Da Nang in 1967, and went on to lead the USMC Command and staff college from 1968-1971 before retiring in 1972. He earned a PhD and became President of Allegheny Community College in western Pennsylvania for a decade before retiring in Florida. He is the father of Admiral James Stavridis.
Louis C. Stamatakos was a Staff Sergeant in the 8th Air Force 94th Bomb group during WWII. He served as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. On February 28, 1945, he saved the lives of the entire crew (10 men) of his B-17 bomber in a mission flown over Germany. He received multiple awards and citations for his service including the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Presidential Citation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Mr. Stamatakos passed away on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
Admiral Ioannis Toumbas, an esteemed Greek naval officer, served in the exiled Greek Armed Forces after fleeing his home country during the German Invasion of Greece in April 1941. During World War II, he assumed command of a destroyer vessel, the Adrias, that was responsible for many successful missions throughout the Mediterranean including sinking several German U-boats. On October 22, 1943, during the naval operations of the Dodecanese Campaign, Toumbas demonstrated tremendous valor when the Adrias struck a sea mine and lost her entire bow. After makeshift repairs, Toumbas led the ship back to Egypt arriving at Alexandria on December 6th. At the end of his military career, Ioannis served as a Naval Attaché in Washington, D.C., while also being promoted to Vice Admiral. When he returned to Greece in 1955, he became heavily involved in Greek politics and served as a member of Parliament. Later in his career, he served as the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Public Works, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Corporal Mike N. Varanakis served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a Half Track Crew Member in the Army’s 521 Armor Division, from 1943-1946. Varanakis was then transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force that swept Luftwaffe from the skies and broke the German power to resist. The total might of that Strike Force was unleashed upon the Japanese. Varanakis received an Honorable Discharge from both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force in 1946. He is the father of Jeff Varanakis and the uncle of George Hatsis.
Stephen G. Yeonas, Sr. served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. His service started at the age of 18 when he entered as a Private, a Radar Specialist in an anti-aircraft unit, serving in the Philippines, New Guinea and the Admiralty Islands. He was discharged at age 21 as a Sergeant.