John-Politis-27A

JOHN POLITIS

What is most exciting about writing and researching about Greek and Greek parentage pilots in service with other Air Forces is when I meet one of these remarkable men who are willing to tell their story by themselves. The following is written by one extraordinary man and pilot who had a great career as an aviator which only recently came to its end. But as they say, "once an aviator, always an aviator". I'm very enthusiastic to present to the Greeks worldwide and also to any aviation enthusiast all over the world, John Politis, a member of the famous Canadian Aerobatic Team, the Snowbirds. In his own words:

"I was born in Athens in 1956. I immigrated to Canada as a two-year-old in 1958. My father was from Thouria, Kalamata and my Mother was from Athens. I can remember wanting to grow up and be a pilot since I was five years old. Flying lessons were expensive. My hard-working parents, who had only immigrated to Canada 14 years earlier, did not have the means to finance my training. So every night after school I worked full time, delivering food for a restaurant owned by my uncle, to earn the money required. I was 16 years old, the legal age to fly solo. Over the next 12 months, I flew as often as possible; at 17 years of age, I received my Private Pilots License. The following year, just after turning 18, I was accepted into the Canadian Air Force. I boarded a train (it was 1974) and waved a tearful goodbye to my parents and my Papou. I received my pilot’s wings

 

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Greek Version

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John Politis 24
RCAF Tutor SB8
Pappas GD14

GEORGE J. PAPPAS

Second Lieutenant George J. Pappas was born in Caldwell, Texas in 1916, to Greek immigrant parents who arrived in the United States via Ellis Island, New York, seeking a better life and refuge from the oppression of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire both in Greece and in Asia Minor. His father John G. Pappas and his mother Georgia Pappas were from Moutsounitsa in the Fokida district in Greece. Georgia's family was from Halkidiki, then under Turkey's occupation, and end up in Thessaloniki. Pappas family eventually settled in Houston with his father John, who engaged in the restaurant business, where usually Greeks excelled. He was the oldest of 4 boys (Nick, Victor, and Thames), and the family was fiercely proud of its new homeland and citizenship. George loved to fly, and his patriotism and desire to serve the country that welcomed his parents and brothers never waned throughout his life. His beloved wife, Ella (“Pug”), had a similar Greek immigrant story and her father ran a confectionery candy store both in Houston. He attended Texas A&M and the University of Houston, before deciding to join the Army a year before Pearl Harbor. On November 25, 1940, he entered active duty and initially served briefly in the cavalry at Brownsville, Texas, before receiving his commission at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He later …

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Greek Version

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Pappas G1
USAAF, B-17G-65-BO, 43-37533, 511 BS, 351 BG, August 1944
Haniotis Fl.Line

GEORGE HANIOTIS

George Haniotis was born in 1920, the son of Konstantin Haniotis and Maria Peristeri in Okmulgee Oklahoma. Konstantin was from Smyrna in Asia Minor and first came to the United States in 1906. Speaking fluently Greek, English, French, and Italian he was immediately employed in the theater business and a few years later he opened his own, the Yale Theater in Okmulgee. He went back to Smyrna and married Maria in 1914 and after a honeymoon trip in Venice, the couple traveled to the United States. They were blessed with five children, two girls, and three sons, unfortunately, the first daughter passed away very early. World War 2 found all three brothers serving in the armed forces.  George entered the Army Air Force and trained as a fighter pilot. He told his parents that he enlisted in order to fight for a good cause, God, and his country. He was a great character and obsessed with fitness. He was so passionate about his physical status that later, during his service in New Guinea, his fellow pilots called him "fitness freak". Just before he completed his flight training he...

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Greek Version

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Haniotis 1
Haniotis-2a
460 Lancaster 5

DIOMEDE ALEXANDRATOS

Diomede Alexandratos was born in Shepparton on 6 February 1922.  His paternal grandfather, Efstathios Alexandratos, was a ship's captain from Ithaca who migrated to Australia in the 1880s and settled in Bendigo.  Diomedes's father Andreas (1872-1950) followed suit in 1901 and started his own business as a fruit vendor in central Melbourne, which enabled him to bring out his two brothers, and later his wife Sophia, from Greece.  Together, the three men operated a successful cafe in Elizabeth Street until 1914, when the partnership ended.  Andreas and Sophia then moved to Shepparton, where they established the town's first cafe. Graduating from Caulfield Grammar in 1940, the young Diomedes Alexandratos worked in a land surveyor’s office and drafted plans for factories. In December 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he decided to join the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). From March 25 to August 5, 1942, he served in the 4th Anti-Aircraft Regiment. He enlisted in RAAF for aircrew training on August 6, 1942, in No.1 REC Center at the age of 20 years old, and ....

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Greek Version

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Diomedes 2a
RAF, Lancaster B III, JB739, No 406 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, January 1945
Pakis 14

JAMES PAPAZOGLAKIS

James "Pakis" Papazoglakis, was born April 7, 1923, in New York City, NY. He was the son of Andonios Hatzidimitris Papazoglakis and Andronique Papazoglakis, who immigrated to the United States from Alatsata, in the Smyrna area of Asia Minor. He arrived in Ellis Island, New York on November 16, 1907. The couple also had a daughter named Catherine. James was raised as a normal NY kid for the time. He had a bike and a paper route. He played stickball in the streets and tried going to as many Dodger games as possible. Jim finished high school as WW2 was starting. Because he was too young, his enlistment papers required his parents’ signature. After his father refused to sign for a position in the corps of engineers (because building bridges was dangerous) Jim got him to agree to the Navy, where he served in the "less" perilous position of a tail gunner on a TBF Grummond Avenger Torpedo Bomber. It must be noted that he enlisted against his father's objections because as he said to his son, "they took one country away from us and not another." With WW2 in full scale during 1942, James decided to enlist in the US Navy on December 15, 1942, in the Navy Receiving Station (NRS) New York and he ....

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Greek Version

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Pakis 2a
AVENGER clarabelle
Stopulos 1

JIM STOPULOS

Captain James C. Stopulos was born in Davenport, Iowa, on May 22, 1917, the son of Greek immigrants. His father, Gus Stopulos, was born in Tripoli on March 28, 1871, and in 1902 he emigrated to the United States seeking a better life. His mother Eleni Dimitrakopoulou (Helen Dimitrak) was born in the village of Alonistena on May 21, 1887, and was a descendant of Zambia Kotsaki, mother of Theodoros Kolokotronis. James C. Stopulos, always referred with great pride to the fact that his roots intersected with those of the greatest warlord of the Greek Revolution of 1821. In the first correspondence we had with him, many years ago, the veteran aviator enthusiastically referred to his family relationship with the legendary hero of '21, even though he was not his direct descendant. In January 2007, he wrote to Georgios Chalkiadopoulos the following: 

"Thank you for your interest in the story about the 'Athenian Avenger'. The name came about when a Jewish friend of mine suggested that I name my plane in honor of the Greek patriots and for the Jews in the concentration camps, my mission was to seek  revenge for those atrocities. I was born in America, graduated from college..."

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https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/bomber-pilots-copilots/james-stopulos/

Greek Version

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Stopulos 3
USAAF, B-17G-55-BO, 42-102694, 'Athenian Avenger', 332BS, 94 BG, 1944
Καταγραφή

THOMAS D. SAMARAS

Thomas D. Samaras was born on January 29, 1921, the son of Demetrios Samaras from Koritsa in Northern Epirus and Anna Pappaiosif. He graduated from Garfield High School in January 1939, taking 5th place in the award for the 10 best students at his school. He continued his studies at the university of his city, Akron University, in science since mathematics, physics, and chemistry were subjects that the young Greek American loved. At the end of 1941 and with WWII in full scale, he made the big decision to become a pilot and chose to join navy ROTC, which was preparing future pilots for the Fleet. On July 17, 1942, he was presented at the NACSB Recruitment & Training Center in Detroit and on August 7, 1942, at his previous request, he was named Aviation Cadet (V-5). On December 15, 1942, Samaras was ordered to Atlanta, Georgia, for the start of his Pre-Flight Training and then to NAS Norman Air Station in Oklahoma for the Initial Flight Training which he successfully completed with high scores. His next transfer sent him to NAS Corpus Christi Air Station in Texas, for Basic Flight Training, which he completed in December 1943. In a glorious ...

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Greek Version

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Samaras 1
USN, SB2C-4E BuNo 19767, VB-83, USS Essex, May-July 1945
Bebas 12

CONSTANTINE 'GUS' BEBAS

"It is indeed a great honor to the Bebas family to contribute in blood towards the noble cause of liberty. And though we all express a deep sorrow on the loss of a brave young Greek American, yet the honor bestowed upon the Bebas family will be displayed in the annals of history in honor of young Bebas who fought for the highest ideals of humanity and civilization."

The Greek Star May 21, 1943

 

EARLY YEARS & USNR

Constantine G. “Gus” Bebas was one of six children (four sisters and a brother) growing up in a modest house on the east side of Wilmette, a predominantly wealthy, lakefront suburb of Chicago. His parents, George, and Angeline - who operated a fruit and vegetable business - were Greek immigrants who were fiercely proud of their country of birth and equally proud of their new home. The original surname name was Bimbas, by the way.  Gus's mother, Angeline, was from Vrethena in Laconia, north of Sparta. Gus's father George Peter Bimbas/Bebas was born in Megalopolis, Arkadia, but lived in Kalamata before he immigrated. He and Angeline were married in 1902 in Sparta. Bebas was educated at Wilmette public schools and graduated from...

 

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Greek Version:

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Bebas 8
USN, SBD-3, VB-8, USS Hornet, Battle of Midway, 4 June 1942
JBoosalis 1

JOHN G. BOOSALIS

John Boosalis was one of the seven children of Gus and Mary (Prokovakis) Boosalis and he was born on March 14, 1919. The couple had immigrated in the early 1900s from Niata village which is located southeast of Sparta, Greece, and were involved in the restaurant business. They managed to obtain their own, named Olympia, which they operated along with their children. They were both very proud of their new country and they passed their patriotic feeling to their children. There was no better proof of that, than the fact that all their sons served the armed forces during WW2, and their youngest one, Theodore, applied for the USN but was rejected due to his age. He was only 8 years old when WW2 broke out. The couple overcame the difficulties of the war with the help of their two daughters and were blessed to see all their sons returning safely back to their house. It must be noted that during an interview in Faribault Daily News the reporter asked her if she had any regrets about having five sons serving in harm's way. She replied: 

"My only regret I have is I wish I had five more sons to give to the service of my country." 

 

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Greek Version:

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JBoosalis 10
VT-26
Sakes 1

JAMES C. 'GREEK' SAKELLARIADES

James Constantine Sakellariades was born in Washington. He was the son of Constantine Sakellariades from Isaris village in Arcadia district in Peloponnese, Greece and Aspasia Stratis Economon from Kastaboli village in the Eastern Thrace, Turkey. The couple had also one daughter, Eleni Kleio and both were very active in helping young Greek immigrants to settle in Washington. The couple held strong bonds with Greece and their families and made many trips back home. On one of those trips in 1932, the young James followed his parents on an unforgettable tour where he explored his roots. The young Greek American graduated from Eastern High School and later joined the Marshall College in Huntington West Virginia. He joined the CPTP program and later entered the V-5 Naval Reserve Program. He became a naval aviator and attached to Bombing Squadron 83 flying the SB2C Helldiver. However, he soon transferred to the new Fighter-Bomber Squadron VBF-83 flying the famous F4U Corsair and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Essex. He flew his first combat mission on March 18, 1945.  VBF-83's Corsairs were launched for a strike and a fighter sweep to Karasahara, Nittagahara, and Tomitaka airfields armed with bombs. After successfully...

 

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Greek Version:

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Sakes 2
USN, FG-1D BuNo 87797, VBF-83, USS Essex, early 1945
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