Carvellis 3

Charilaos Carvellis

Charilaos Karvelis was born in Egypt in Cairo on April 6, 1923, and his parents, Nestor and Kallirroe came from Lemnos. He studied at the Frères des écoles Chrétiennes in Cairo. During World War II he joined the Royal Hellenic Air Force (RHAF) which operated in the Middle East under the umbrella of the RAF (Royal Air Force). It was initially presented at the RHAF training center in Gaza on August 13, 1942, which was the gathering point for both airmen fleeing Greece and diaspora Greeks who wanted to join the air force. He remained there until February 10, 1943, and after his basic military training, he was selected for pilot training. The initial reception of cadet pilots took place at Hillside Camp, later called Cranborne, in Southern Rhodesia where the Initial Training Wing (ITW) training course usually lasted 6 weeks. The young Greek Egyptian was presented on February 23, 1943, and remained there until July 9, 1943. The next day he was transferred to Mount Hampden for his initial flight training at No. 28 EFTS (Elementary Flight School) with DH.82 Tiger Moth where it would be decided if he was fit to become a pilot. His first flight took place on July 12, 1943, with instructor F/O Michopoulos (RHAF) on DH.82A 8108.  At this school, the Greek cadets had instructors from both the RHAF and RAF, but Michopoulos had taken over Karvelis' guidance. After thirteen hours and thirty minutes and 22 sorties, Charilaos flew his first solo on August 4 with DH.82A 8108, preceded two days earlier by the pre-solo evaluation by Squadron Leader Flett, with DH.82A 7670. After 84 hours and 20 minutes of flying to his credit, ...

For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version

Carvellis 9
RAF, DH.82A Tiger Moth, 680 - 12, No 28 EFTS, Rhodesian Air Training Group, RAF Mount Hampden, May 1942
Jannopoulo 9a

Richard Stockton Jannopoulo

Richard Stockton Jannopoulo was born to John Constantine Jannopoulo (19/1/1869-14/5/1932) and Berenice Stockton (1872-1948), on October 22, 1896. His father, a Greek, potentially born in Smyrna or Greece (it is also mentioned that the Jannopoulo family was exiled from Russia) and emigrated to St. Louis, under unknown circumstances, was the manager and eventually owner of the Delmar Garden Amusement Park, Imperial Theater, and Suburban Gardens Amusement Park, with guidance, perhaps, from his influential relative, Demetrius Jannopoulo, the Greek Consul in St. Louis. As president of Delmar Garden, J.C. Jannopoulo initiated significant enhancements, acquiring 35 acres in 1909. Operating the park until its closure around 1919, he later filed a plan in 1920 for the subdivision, leading to the rapid development of Delmar Garden with over 85 buildings by 1924. His mother's heritage was also a great one. Her linage goes back to Sir John Stockton who was the Lord Mayor of London in 1740 and through him to Richard Stockton who was knighted on the field by King Edward IV in 1470 and was afterward elected to the high honor of Master of the Mercer’s Company, the oldest and most exclusive association of the kind in London. The American family branch settled in New Jersey and members of it were prominent in the history of the Revolution. But from her maternal side, two of her ancestors were colonial governors of Virginia. At the tender age of three, Richard Jannopoulo garnered public attention by clinching the title of the "Prettiest Boy Baby" at Saratoga in 1899, a notable feat during the family's summer vacation. Intriguingly, it was Richard's nurse, Aunt Nellie, who accompanied him to the competition, a departure from the conventional parental attendance. The event and its outcome remained a noteworthy feature in newspapers for an extended period. Between 1910 and...

For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version

Jannopoulo 8a
Jannopoulo 13
11-Salmon 2-A2
Panico 3

Panico "Theo" Theodosiou

Countless fighter pilots from every Commonwealth and Dominion nation fought with the RAF during the war. Panico Theodosiou was born on 21 November 1919 in Limassol, Cyprus, into a deeply religious Greek Cypriot family. After Cyprus was officially declared a Crown Colony in the mid-1920s and the islanders became British subjects, the Theodosiou family emigrated to Southern Rhodesia. A week before Britain declared war on Germany, units of the Southern Rhodesian Air Unit were the first to answer the call to arms. Panico volunteered for service and received a commission as a signal officer, reporting to headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Later renamed the Southern Rhodesian Air Force, 1 Squadron at Nairobi was re-designated 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron in April 1940 when all SRAF personnel were absorbed into the RAF. Panic° successfully applied to fly and on 26 November 1940, Plt Off Theodosiou began flying training on DH Tiger Moths from the 25 Elementary Flying Training School at Belvedere, on the outskirts of Salisbury. He made his first solo flight after about ten hours of instruction. After completing EFTS, he took another leap - into marriage with his long-time girlfriend Denise. On 20 January 1941, he transferred to the 20 Service Flying Training School at Cranbourne, also near Salisbury, where he flew North American Harvards. There he received his wings on...

For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version


Panico 5
UK, Spitfire Mk IX, MJ279, FL Panico Hercules Theodosiou, No 237 (Rhodesian) Squadron, 1944

Louis "The Greek" Stamatakos

Born to Greek immigrants from Sparta, Lou was the second of four children. Lou was raised in Dayton, Ohio during the Great Depression. Much of his boyhood was spent getting into mischief and having fun with his older brother, Straty, and his many cousins who affectionately called him "Big Louie." Big Louie's strong arm and athleticism made him the obvious choice for quarterback and pitcher in both sandlot and organized games, and his humor, optimism, and relaxed and engaging ways made him a natural leader. When he was not playing sports, he was participating in Boy Scouts or making airplanes from balsa wood. In the 1930's, Dayton was a national aviation center and Lou daydreamed about flying the planes that roared over his neighborhood. In 1943, at 17, Lou volunteered for the Army Air Force. Lou survived 31 missions over Nazi Germany as a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress and recorded one "kill." During 2009 George Chalkiadopoulos, founding member of the Greeks in Foreign Cockpits team, exchanged emails with Louis Stamatakos who wrote about his story in a few words.

"I was raised in Dayton, Ohio during the Great Depression years by parents who both had immigrated from Krokea, south of Sparta. I had two brothers and a sister. During the war, all males aged 18 and over were eligible to be drafted into the military service. I was crazy about flying and, not surprisingly, enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a cadet (I wanted to be a pilot.  I entered the Air Corps as soon as I turned 18 and had basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi. Having all too many young men in the cadet program, the military sent me to Gunnery School in Las Vegas, Nevada where I learned gunnery with 50 caliber machine guns and aircraft turrets (found on bombers).  Later I was ...


For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version


Louis Stamatakos 2a
USAAF, B-17G-90-BO, B 43-38662, 332 BS, 94 BG, March 1945

Searching for Nicholas G. Strong

Although there is not enough information about the Greek-American aviator Nicholas George Strong, his letter to Eleftherios Venizelos is a very interesting case for the Greeks in Foreign Cockpits research group. The aviator's letter most aptly presents that ingredient that connects all the stories featured within our group's books and website. That ingredient is none other than the vibrant Greek consciousness among immigrants and residents of Greek descent abroad. In their new homelands, along with their new identity, they also succeed in maintaining their Greek identity, instilling in their descendants a love for the fatherland of their ancestors, a love that they manifest in various ways, sometimes with great sacrifice. On 30 September 1919, he sent a letter from London to Paris addressed to Eleftherios Venizelos. He knew where he was as he states in the letter that he had contacted Venizelos' son at the Greek Embassy in London. (The letter is kept in the Eleftherios Venizelos Archives under file number 023~180.) As it appears, however, the letter was sent because an earlier application to the Greek Embassy in London for membership in the Greek Air Force received no reply. 

"Your Excellency:

About a month ago I addressed to the present Hellenic Embassy to offer my services to the Greek Air Corps of Greece. I am of Greek descent and have been raised in America since childhood. I served the government of the United States in Mexico, and during the last war I offered my services to the English army, and at the end of it I held the position of lieutenant in the English Air Corps, thus acquiring the necessary military and mechanical experience in aviation. I am now offering my services to the Royal Air Force of England, but I can give my resignation as soon as the Greek Government accepts my services. As I have not received a reply from the Greek Government so far, I take the liberty of answering you directly. Your son whom I had the honor to meet personally at the Hellenic Embassy three weeks ago can tell you all about it. In addition to English, I speak and write fluent Greek and French. I shall be much obliged to you if I have a positive answer as to how to arrange my affairs accordingly."

Strong 2a

Αν και δεν υπάρχουν επαρκείς πληροφορίες για τον Ελληνοαμερικανό αεροπόρο Nicholas George Strong, η επιστολή του προς τον Ελευθέριο Βενιζέλο αποτελεί για την ερευνητική ομάδα Greeks in Foreign Cockpits μια πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα περίπτωση. Από τα γραπτά του ίδιου του αεροπόρου, παρουσιάζεται με τον πιο εύστοχο τρόπο εκείνο το συστατικό που συνδέει όλες τις ιστορίες που παρουσιάζονται μέσα στα βιβλία και τον ιστότοπο της ομάδας μας. Το συστατικό αυτό δεν είναι άλλο από τη ζωντανή ελληνική συνείδηση στους μετανάστες και ελληνικής καταγωγής κατοίκους εξωτερικού. Στις νέες τους πατρίδες, μαζί με τη νέα τους ταυτότητα καταφέρνουν να διατηρούν και την ελληνική, ενσταλάζοντας στους απογόνους τους αγάπη για την πατρίδα των προγόνων τους, μια αγάπη που εκδηλώνουν με διάφορους τρόπους, ενίοτε και με μεγάλες θυσίες. Στις 30 Σεπτεμβρίου 1919 απέστειλε γράμμα από το Λονδίνο στο Παρίσι με αποδέκτη τον Ελευθέριο Βενιζέλο. Γνώριζε το που βρισκόταν καθώς αναφέρει εντός του γράμματος ότι είχε έλθει σε επαφή με τον Υιό του Βενιζέλου στην ελληνική Πρεσβεία στο Λονδίνο. (Η επιστολή φυλάσσεται στο Αρχείο Ελευθερίου Βενιζέλου με αριθμό φακέλου 023~180.) Όπως όμως φαίνεται το γράμμα εστάλη επειδή σε πρότερη αίτησή του προς την Ελληνική Πρεσβεία στο Λονδίνο για ένταξη στην Ελληνική Αεροπορία δεν έλαβε καμία απάντηση.


Προ μηνός περίπου απετάνθην εις την ενταύθα Ελλ. Πρεσβείαν όπως προσφέρω τας υπηρεσίας μου εις το ελληνικόν αεροπορικόν σώμα της Ελλάδος. Είμαι ελληνικής καταγωγής παιδιόθεν δε ανετράφην εις αμερικήν. [ακατάληπτο] δε υπηρέτησα την κυβέρνησιν των Η. Πολιτειών εις Μεξικόν, διαρκούντος του τελευταίου πολέμου προσέφερον τας υπηρεσίας μου εις τον αγγλικόν στρατόν τις μεχρί τέλους κατέχων θέσιν υπολοχαγού εις το αεροπορικόν σώμα της Αγγλίας αποκτήσας ούτω την απαιτούμενη αεροπορικήν στρατιωτικήν τε και μηχανικήν πείραν. Προσφέρω εισέτι τας υπηρεσίας μου εις το αεροπορικόν σώμα της Αγγλίας – Royal Air Force – αλλά δύναμαι να δώσω την παρέτησίν μου ευθύς άμα η ελληνική Κυβέρνησις δεχθή τας υπηρεσίας μου. Επειδή δεν έλαβον μέχρι τούδε απάντησιν παρά της ελλ. Πρεσβείας λαμβάνω το θάρρος ν'αποτανθώ κατ'ευθείαν προς υμάς. Ο υιός σας του οποίου είχα την τιμήν να γνωρίσω προσωπικώς εις την ελλ. Πρεσβείαν προ τριών εβδομάδων δύναται να σας ειπή τα καθέκαστα. Εκτός της αγγλικής γλώσσης ομιλώ και γράφω απταίστως την Έλληνικήν και Γαλλικήν. Θα σας είμαι λίαν υπόχρεως εάν έχω μια θετικήν απάντησιν όπως αναλόγως κανονίσω τας υποθέσεις μου».


Nicholas was born on 30 January 1893 in Dardanelles, Turkey. In the US he appears to have resided at 303 State St. Brooklyn New York and at one time at 125 W. Larned St. Detroit Michigan. A stated person of reference at death was Miss Helen Perry residing at 155 East 36 Street New York City, with whom he states he was on friendly terms. He knew English, Greek, and French as stated in the letter, and Turkish as stated in the service documents. As a civilian, from 1914 to 1916, he worked as a salesman for the Marquette Drug Company located in New York City's famously tiled Potter Building at 38 Park Row. On 2 May 1916, he enlisted in the U.S. National Guard (NG). He reports that he served with the U.S. Army in the U.S. intervention in Mexico (Punitive War) in one of the Cavalry Regiments under General John Pershing. He also mentions attending the United States School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The aviation arm of the school was established on 17 May 1917 at the request of a portion of the cadets and was equipped with Curtiss Jenny JN-4b trainer aircraft. After contacting Cornell University we confirmed that he attended the aviation department, reporting on September 1, 1917. However, he was deemed unsuitable to become a pilot and was discharged. He was also honorably discharged from the National Guard on 29 August 1917 and two days later he joined the New York Enlisted Reserve Corps (ERC) as a private. On 17 October 1917, he appears to have been honorably discharged again, perhaps to go to Great Britain and join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), which at that time was to become an independent arm of the Royal Air Force (RAF). His enlistment was made possible through the RAF in Canada, where he again received air training, this time as an Observer-Gunner at the Beamsville School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery on 17 October 1918. On completion of training, in 1919 he reported to England and specifically to No.6 Wing and, immediately transferred to Manston and specifically to No.50 Training Centre, part of No.2 Training Group of the RAF based at Uxbridge. On 7 November 1918, he was posted to No.1 Observer School - Machine Gunners and continued his training as a Cadet Lieutenant until 24 May. As the First World War was over, he was sent on 7 July to The Grove Military Hospital, South West London for examination and then to the US Repatriation Centre, which was also based at Uxbridge. However, he did not leave England and in August, namely on the 22nd, he was again examined at the Rochester Row Military Hospital in Uxbridge. He rejoins No.2 Training Group and after further examinations at The Grove, he is sent for further training at the Wireless Training School at Winchester (No.1 Wireless Training School) where he remains until the early days of November 1919. Once again examinations follow at two more Military Hospitals, Shorncliffe in Kent and Hemel Hempstead on 11 and 17 November respectively with a view to his return to the USA. Once again, this order is revoked and from 14 December until 7 January 1920, he is granted leave before going to the Electricians and Radio Operators' School for training where he remains until 13 March. On 9 February he received the rank of Flying Observer Lieutenant. He eventually returned to the American continent on the ocean liner S/S Haverford in March. During his stay in England, he also stayed in the buildings of the Royal Automobile Club, which during WWI hosted Air Force officers (English and from the American Continent). Because of his service with the RAF, he automatically became a member of the British Empire Service League - Canada, number: 5/36-531068/36.

Apparently, Venizelos either did not accept his proposal or perhaps did not pay attention to his letter. Unfortunately, there is no further information regarding his life thereafter, nor the date of his death. His story however confirms the fact that thousands of Greeks in America tried to return (and many of them succeeded) and fight with the Greek Armed Forces before returning to the Promised Land, the United States.

Strong 3
The Air Laboratory of Cornell University features two J4N Jenny biplane trainers. (History of the United States Army School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., May 1917 to December 1918)

O Nicholas γεννήθηκε στις 30 Ιανουαρίου 1893 στα Δαρδανέλια της Τουρκίας. Στις ΗΠΑ φαίνεται να διέμενε στην 303 State St. Brooklyn New York και κάποια στιγμή στην 125 W. Larned St. Detroit Michigan. Δηλωμένο πρόσωπο αναφοράς σε περίπτωση θανάτου ήταν η Miss Helen Perry διαμένουσα στην 155 East 36 Street της Νέας Υόρκης, με την οποία δηλώνει ότι είχε φιλική σχέση. Γνώριζε Αγγλικά, Ελληνικά, Γαλλικά όπως αναφέρει στην επιστολή, αλλά και Τουρκικά, όπως αναγράφεται στα υπηρεσιακά έγγραφα. Ως πολίτης, από το 1914 έως το 1916, εργάστηκε ως πωλητής στην Marquette Drug Company που έδρευε στο γνωστό κεραμιδί Potter Building 38 Park Row της Νέας Υόρκης. Στις 2 Μαΐου 1916 κατατάχθηκε στην Αμερικανική Εθνοφρουρά (National Guard – NG). Αναφέρει ότι υπηρέτησε με τον αμερικανικό στρατό στην επέμβαση των ΗΠΑ στο Μεξικό (Punitive War) σε ένα από τα Συντάγματα Ιππικού, υπό τον Στρατηγό John Pershing. Αυτό ίσως να συνέβη μετά την κατάταξή του. Αναφέρει επίσης ότι φοίτησε στο United States School of Military Aeronautics του πανεπιστημίου Cornell της Ithaca της Νέας Υόρκης. Το αεροπορικό σκέλος της σχολής ιδρύθηκε στις 17 Μαΐου 1917 κατόπιν απαίτησης μερίδας των δοκίμων και εξοπλίστηκε με εκπαιδευτικά Curtiss Jenny JN-4b. Παρουσιάστηκε στο Cornell την 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 1917 ωστόσο απέτυχε να γίνει χειριστής. Μετά την αποχώρησή του από την πτητική του εκπαίδευση, αποστρατεύτηκε επίσης από τις τάξεις της Εθνοφρουράς στις 27 Αυγούστου 1917 προκειμένου να καταταγεί δύο μέρες αργότερα στο Σώμα Εφέδρων της Νέας Υόρκης (Enlisted Reserve Corps - ERC), ως απλός στρατιώτης. Στις 17 Οκτωβρίου 1917 φαίνεται ν’ αποστρατεύεται (honorable discharge) εκ νέου, ίσως με στόχο να μεταβεί στην Μ. Βρετάνια και να καταταγεί στο Βρετανικό Αεροπορικό Σώμα (Royal Flying Corps – RFC) που εκείνη την περίοδο επρόκειτο να αυτονομηθεί ως όπλο και να ονομαστεί ως Royal Air Force – RAF). Η κατάταξή του κατέστη δυνατή μέσω της RAF στον Καναδά, όπου και έλαβε πάλι αεροπορική εκπαίδευση, αυτή την φορά ως Παρατηρητής – Πολυβολητής στο Beamsville School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery στις 17 Οκτωβρίου 1918. Με το πέρας της εκπαίδευσης, εντός του 1919 παρουσιάστηκε στην Αγγλία και συγκεκριμένα στην Νο.6 Πτέρυγα (Νο.6 Wing)  και αμέσως μετατέθηκε στο Manston και συγκεκριμένα στο No.50 Κέντρο Εκπαίδευσης, που ανήκε στο Νο.2 Training Group της RAF με έδρα το  Uxbridge. Στις 7 Νοεμβρίου 1918 τοποθετήθηκε στο Νο.1 Σχολείο Παρατηρητών – Πολυβολητών  συνέχισε την εκπαίδευσή του ως Δόκιμος Ανθυποσμηναγός στο  μέχρι και τις 24 Μαΐου. Δεδομένου ότι ο Α’ Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος είχε ήδη τελειώσει, εστάλει στις 7 Ιουλίου στο Στρατιωτικό Νοσοκομείο The Grove, στο νότιο δυτικό Λονδίνο για εξετάσεις και μετά στο Κέντρο Επαναπροώθησης στις ΗΠΑ που και αυτό είχε έδρα στο Uxbridge. Ωστόσο δεν εγκαταλείπει την Αγγλία και εντός του Αυγούστου, συγκεκριμένα στις 22 του μηνός περνά και πάλι από εξετάσεις στο Στρατιωτικό Νοσοκομείο Rochester Row στο Uxbridge. Επανεντάσσεται στο Νο.2 Training Group και μετά από συμπληρωματικές εξετάσεις στο The Grove αποστέλλεται για περεταίρω εκπαίδευση στη Σχολή Ασυρματιστών στο Winchester (Νο.1 Wireless Training School) όπου παραμένει μέχρι και τις πρώτες ημέρες του Νοεμβρίου του 1919. Για άλλη μία φορά ακολουθούν εξετάσεις σε δύο ακόμα Στρατιωτικά Νοσοκομεία, στο Shorncliffe στο Kent και το Hemel Hempstead στις 11 και 17 Νοεμβρίου αντίστοιχα με σκοπό την επιστροφή του στις ΗΠΑ. Για άλλη μια φορά η διαταγή αυτή ανακαλείται και από τις 14 Δεκεμβρίου μέχρι και τις 7 Ιανουαρίου 1920 του χορηγείται άδεια, πριν μεταβεί για εκπαίδευση στο Σχολείο Ηλεκτρικών και Ασυρματιστών όπου και παραμένει μέχρι και τις 13 Μαρτίου. Στις 9 Φεβρουαρίου έλαβε το βαθμό Ανθυποσμηναγού Παρατηρητή-Πολυβολητή (Flying- Observer).  Τελικά επέστρεψε στην Αμερικανική Ήπειρο με το υπερωκεάνιο S/S Haverford, εντός του Μαρτίου. Κατά την παραμονή του στην Αγγλία, διέμεινε και στα κτήρια του Royal Automobile Club, που κατά τη διάρκεια του Α'ΠΠ φιλοξενούσε αξιωματικούς της αεροπορίας (Άγγλους και εξ' Αμερικανικής Ηπείρου). Λόγω της υπηρεσίας του με τη RAF, έγινε αυτόματα μέλος της British Empire Service League – Canada, με αριθμό : 5/36-531068/36.

Κατά τα φαινόμενα ο Βενιζέλος είτε δεν αποδέχθηκε την πρότασή του, είτε ίσως να μην έδωσε σημασία στην επιστολή του. Δυστυχώς δεν υπάρχει κάποια περεταίρω πληροφορία αναφορικά με την ζωή του στη συνέχεια αλλά ούτε και η χρονολογία που απεβίωσε. Η ιστορία του ωστόσο επιβεβαιώνει το γεγονός ότι χιλιάδες Έλληνες της Αμερικής προσπάθησαν να επιστρέψουν (και πάρα πολλοί από αυτούς το κατάφεραν) και να πολεμήσουν με τις Ελληνικές Ένοπλες Δυνάμεις, πριν επιστρέψουν και πάλι στην Γη της Επαγγελίας, τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. 

Strong 4
The RAF Gunnery School between Rang-du-Fliers and Verton. A Pilot Officer firing at fixed targets representing German aircraft from a 'cockpit' moving along curving rails. July 17, 1918. Copyright: © IWM (via



This article wouldn't be complete without expressing our sincere gratitude to a handful of people and their respective institutions. From Cornell University and Cornell's Carl A. Kroch Library, we would like to thank: Laura Miriam Linke, Julia Gardner, and Evan Fay Earle. From the Venizelos Foundation, we send our gratitude to: Chara Apostolaki. We would also like to thank Andrew Phedonos and Jim Szpajcher for helping us decode Nicholas G. Strong military file, as well as Mindy Swift for helping us with files.



1.  The National Archives reference AIR 76/488/132

2.  The National Archives reference AIR 76/488/135

3.  New York Guard Service Cards 1906-1918, 1940-1948 (via

4.  US Residents Serving in the British Expeditionary Forces 1917-1919 (via

5.  Mexican Punitive Campaign Muster Rolls for National Guard 1916-1917 (via









Note: The featured image at the beginning of the article was created from the model of "The Aviator" by sculptor Augustus Lukeman, created around 1925 and featuring Louis Bennett Jr. in uniform with wings on his back. "Ready to Serve" is inscribed on the granite pedestal of the sculpture. For more read the following

Vizanty 11

Dan Valentyn Vizanty

The Royal Romanian Air Force (RRAF) during World War 2 boasted several remarkable fighter pilots of Greek heritage, a fact well-known to aviation history enthusiasts in Greece. Despite their origins tracing back to the Byzantine Empire centuries ago, their impressive achievements have often been overlooked, leading to the perception that they might have lost touch with their Greek identity. However, it's essential to note that this was not the rule, as some pilots proudly served both in the RRAF and even the Luftwaffe and were proud of their heritage too. Among the distinguished fighter pilots and aces of Romania, one individual stood out prominently – Dan Vizanty. His legacy has been celebrated, and his daughter, Ana Maria Vizanty, authored an article about his life and accomplishments. The piece was initially published in the September 2014 issue of Aviation History magazine and later republished on on March 7, 2017. With the generous permissions granted by both the magazine and Ana Maria, we are delighted to republish the article on our website, ensuring that the Greek public can also appreciate and learn from his extraordinary exploits. Moreover, we had the immense honor of meeting Ana Maria Vizanty in Bucharest. During a special occasion on August 6, 2023, our esteemed member and aviation artist, George Moris, had the privilege of presenting her with a remarkable painting depicting one of her father's most intense dogfights, on June 10, 1944, against USAAF fighter-bombers (for a personal account of Vizanty during that dogfight click the following link: This particular aerial battle featured Dan Vizanty piloting the indigenous IAR-81C fighter against the renowned twin-engine American fighter, the P-38 Lightning. For a comprehensive account of this thrilling encounter, please refer to the article that follows. For more please refer to the Romanian bibliography, especially his biography "DAN VIZANTY DESTINUL UNUI PILOT DE VANATOARE" written by Daniel Focsa (Institutul European 2010, ISBN: 9789736116926. Now, without further delay, let us immerse ourselves in the captivating story as shared by Ana Maria Vizanty herself.

“My father, av. Dan Vizanty felt indeed an ancestral nostalgia for Greece. He said that he was also considering himself a Greek citizen due to his origin. I only know a little though about this aspect. He mentioned sometimes that his ancestors had come to Moldavia around the 17th or 18th century, and they had become perfectly integrated into their new country. Such that his family became a prominent one in the Moldavian area, just like many others who arrived in Romanian Lands in the Phanariot period as well. His name’s etymology, from Byzantion, also points out his Greek origin. Unfortunately..."

For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version

Vizanty 15
Vizanty 5
Vizanty 10jpeg
Vizanty 3
Sarris 7

Frank Sarris

Frank J. Sarris was born on December 8, 1917, in Newport, Rhode Island, in the USA. His parents were Greek immigrants, John Sarris and Maria Lafiotis, both originally from the beautiful island of Skiathos. Frank's father first arrived in the USA between 1900 and 1905 to obtain American citizenship. To achieve this, John Sarris volunteered for the U.S. Army during World War I, serving in France with the 6th Engineer Regiment before returning injured to the USA. In November 1915, he married Maria in Providence, Rhode Island, and later, after moving to Newport, they had four children: Rose (1916), Frank (1917), Koula (1919), and George (1922). Frank enlisted in the Rhode Island National Guard and served three years before being discharged. He then reenlisted in the National Guard for another four months before joining the U.S. Navy on November 1, 1939, as a "Seaman Apprentice" with a prospect of six years of service. In January 1940, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4), where the impressive sight of aircraft taking off and landing on the flight deck profoundly influenced young Frank. Due to the needs of the war, the Navy's requirements were reduced from the required two years of college or university studies, allowing Frank to apply for pilot training. On January 5, 1943, he reported to Pre-Flight Training School at the Naval Air Station in Athens, Georgia. On October 12, 1943, after completing all tests, Frank was designated an "Aviation Pilot 1st Class" and a few days later...

For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version

Sarris 1
USN, F6F-5 BuNo xxxxx, VF-37, USS Sangamon
Stargu 9

John Stargu

Born in Clayton, N.J. on Feb. 29, 1924, John Stargu was the son of the late George and Despina (Moshovos) Stargu. According to his son, Nick, the original name was Stergiou but the authorities in Ellis Island wrote it as Stargu. George's heritage was from Mykonos Island while Despina was from Samos Island, both in the Aegean Archipelago. John graduated from Bloomfield High School and was employed by Danaher Ford and M&E Ford.  During WWII he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and trained as a Flight Engineer and Top turret gunner in the B-24 Liberators. He met his crew during their joint training in Pueblo Air Force Base in Colorado, in January 1943, his captain was Robert Blair. One interesting note is that the crew's tail gunner was named Vlachos, almost certainly another Greek American. When their training was over, they were assigned for service in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) specifically the 451st Bomb Group, based in Italy. The whole crew went to Herrington in Kansas in order to deliver a new bomber equipped with radar. According to Blair before their journey to Europe, the bombardier and three gunners were sent by boat while the rest of the crew along with two radar engineers and spare parts, however when they arrived in Italy, they never...


For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version



Stargu 1
USAAF, B-24H-1-FO, 42-7697, The Stork, 720 BS, 450 BG, Manduria Airfield, Italy, 1944
The Terrible Greeks

The "Terrible Greeks"

While researching we usually find many interesting stories regarding the Greek parentage pilots and crews service from WW1 till our days. In Volume B of our book, we honored two Greek American pilots who flew with the famous 23rd Fighter Group, James Vurgaropulos (75th FS) and Harry Zavakos (76th FS). The two pilots flew in the same Group but in separate Squadrons and naturally they flew some common missions. However, there is one mission in which the two Greek Americans flew a reconnaissance mission as a pair, deep behind the enemy lines with one covering the other. Both Harry and Vurgie, as James was known to his squadron mates, were very popular in their Group and usually known as "The Greeks". On June 1, 1944, the 23rd FG war diary wrote:

"The last mission of the day was a recon of Ichang and Kingmen, far northern airfields. This was made by the "Terrible Greeks", Vurgaropulos of the 75th FS and Zavakos of the 76th FS."

Below is an excerpt from James Vurgaropoulos chapter in which we refer to that mission with further details:  

"Approximately 40 minutes later, Lieutenant (I) Vurgaropulos took to the air again, this time as a pair leader, accompanying another pilot on a reconnaissance mission over two enemy airfields, Tangyang and Kingmen. What makes this particular case remarkable is that Vurgaropulos' wingman for this mission was also Greek—Lieutenant (I) Harry Zavakos, serving with the 76th Fighter Squadron. The 75th and 76th Squadrons often conducted joint operations, and now they operated from the same airfield. Given their Greek ancestry and shared service in the same group, it is safe to assume that Vurgaropulos and Zavakos were well-acquainted, possibly even friends. Their joint participation in the mission eliminates any doubt about their familiarity with each other. This occurrence is likely the only instance in World War II's history where two Greek American fighter pilots flew together as a pair on a combat mission, excluding cases where Greek members served as crews in the USAAF's Bomb Groups. These Bomb Groups occasionally had at least two, and sometimes even three, Greek members in the same aircrew. The endeavors of Greek American aviators who served on USAAF bombers are extensive and noteworthy, deserving a separate publication in the future. The 75th Squadron pilots, including Vurgaropulos, primarily flew missions with the P-40N aircraft. In contrast, Zavakos and his fellow pilots in the 76th Squadron utilized the P-51B, having received this aircraft type (P-51A) in November 1943. However, the reconnaissance mission required deep penetration of enemy airspace and an extended stay over the target area. Consequently, the probability of encountering a formidable enemy fighter opposition was high, rendering two lone aircraft of different types and capabilities vulnerable. Considering the hazardous nature of the mission, it was decided, likely with the agreement of both pilots, that Vurgaropulos would not employ the P-40N Warhawk. Instead, the P-51B was chosen for both pilots, ensuring uniformity, shared technical characteristics, and, most importantly, superior performance compared to the P-40N. The P-51B offered greater autonomy, higher speed, and superior maneuverability, enhancing their chances of survival. Moreover, James was among the first pilots in the 75th Squadron certified to operate the Mustang. At 16:50, the two Greek Americans took off from Hengyang airfield in their respective P-51B Mustangs, heading towards the Tangyang and Kingmen airfields. Upon reaching the target area, the pilots encountered specific weather conditions. A thin layer of clouds at 12,000 feet limited visibility to 2 miles, while dense ground fog prevailed. These adverse weather conditions made reconnaissance difficult. However, flying at low altitudes, the two Greek pilots discovered no enemy aircraft at Tangyang. They also detected no enemy formations in the airspace surrounding the airfield. Poor visibility proved to be both a hindrance and an advantage for the pilots. At Kingmen Airport, the fog was so thick that observation became nearly impossible. However, this also prevented the anti-aircraft guns from detecting the two Mustangs in a timely manner. Despite the challenges faced by Vurgaropulos and Zavakos, they found small openings in the weather and conducted low-altitude passes, confirming the absence of enemy aircraft at Kingmen as well. It was likely that the enemy aircraft had relocated to other areas of the front to support Japanese operations. At precisely 19:00 hours, the two pilots safely returned to Hengyang airfield, having successfully completed their mission."

For short biographies for both pilots please follow the links below. Because the book "GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS" volume B is out of stock, there is a plan in the future to add both chapters in the Greek language in PDF as displayed in the volume.


James Vurgropulos

Greek Version:


Harry Zavakos

Greek Version

James-Vurgaropulos cropped
zavakos harry

Κατά τη διάρκεια της έρευνας μας συνήθως βρίσκουμε πολλές ενδιαφέρουσες ιστορίες σχετικά με τους ελληνικής καταγωγής αεροπόρους που υπηρέτησαν από τον Α' Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο μέχρι τις ημέρες μας. Στον Β' τόμο του βιβλίου μας τιμήσαμε δύο Ελληνοαμερικανούς πιλότους που πέταξαν με την περίφημη 23η Πτέρυγα Μαχητικών, τον James Vurgaropulos (75η Μοίρα) και τον Harry Zavakos (76η Μοίρα). Οι δύο πιλότοι πέταξαν στην ίδια Πτέρυγα αλλά σε ξεχωριστές Μοίρες και όπως ήταν φυσικό πέταξαν κάποιες κοινές αποστολές. Ωστόσο, υπάρχει μια αποστολή, στην οποία οι δύο Ελληνοαμερικανοί πέταξαν μια αποστολή αναγνώρισης ως ζευγάρι, βαθιά πίσω από τις εχθρικές γραμμές, με τον έναν να καλύπτει τον άλλον. Τόσο ο Harry όσο και ο Vurgie, όπως ήταν γνωστός ο James στους συναδέλφους του, ήταν πολύ δημοφιλείς στην Πτέρυγά τους και συνήθως ήταν γνωστοί ως "Οι Έλληνες". Την 1η Ιουνίου 1944 το πολεμικό ημερολόγιο της 23ης FG έγραφε:

«Η τελευταία αποστολή της ημέρας αφορούσε την αναγνώριση στα βορειότερα αεροδρόμια του Ichang και του Kingmen. Αυτή εκτελέστηκε από τους «Τρομερούς Έλληνες», τον Vurgaropulos της 75ης Μοίρας και τον Zavakos της 76ης»

Ακολουθεί ένα απόσπασμα από το κεφάλαιο του James Vurgaropoulos στο οποίο αναφερόμαστε σε αυτή την αποστολή με περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες:

«Περίπου 40 ́ λεπτά αργότερα ο Υπολοχαγός (Ι)  Vurgaropulos  πετώντας  ως  αρχηγός ζεύγους, βρέθηκε και πάλι στον αέρα, καθώς μαζί με έναν ακόμη χειριστή, διατάχτηκαν να εκτελέσουν αποστολή αναγνωρίσεως άνωθεν δύο εχθρικών αεροδρομίων, στο Tangyang και στο Kingmen. Το εκπληκτικό στην συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση είναι ότι ο χειριστής που πετούσε ως Νο.2 του James, σε αυτή την αποστολή, ήταν επίσης Έλληνας! Επρόκειτο για τον Υπολοχαγό (I) Harry Zavakos, ο οποίος υπηρετούσε στην 76η Μοίρα Μαχητικών, της οποίας οι χειριστές, πετούσαν συχνά σε κοινές επιχειρήσεις με τους Ιπταμένους της 75ης Μοίρας, ενώ πλέον επιχειρούσαν μαζί και από το ίδιο αεροδρόμιο. Αναμφίβολα οι δύο άνδρες, συνυπηρετώντας στην ίδια Πτέρυγα και με αφορμή την Ελληνική τους καταγωγή, σίγουρα γνώριζαν πολύ καλά ο ένας τον άλλο και πιθανότατα να ήταν και φίλοι. Άλλωστε η κοινή τους συμμετοχή στην εν λόγω αποστολή, δεν αφήνει περιθώρια αμφισβήτησης για την γνωριμία μεταξύ τους. Επίσης πιθανόν να πρόκειται για την μοναδική φορά, στα χρονικά του Β ́ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, που δύο Ελληνοαμερικανοί χειριστές διώξεως, πέταξαν μαζί ως ζεύγος, στην ίδια πολεμική αποστολή. Εξαιρούνται οι περιπτώσεις των Ιπταμένων που υπηρέτησαν ως πληρώματα στις πολυπληθέστερες Πτέρυγες Βομβαρδισμού (Bomb Groups) της USAAF, καθώς ορισμένες φορές υπήρξαν τουλάχιστον δύο ή και τρεις (σπανιότερα) Έλληνες, που ήταν μέλη του ίδιου αεροπορικού πληρώματος. Η δράσις των Ελληνοαμερικανών αεροπόρων που υπηρέτησαν στα βομβαρδιστικά της USAAF, είναι ένα άλλο τεράστιο, όσο και αξιόλογο κεφάλαιο, που ερευνήθηκε επισταμένως κατά το παρελθόν και θα αποτελέσει στο απώτερο μέλλον, αντικείμενο ξεχωριστής έκδοσης.  Τα  αεροσκάφη  με  τα  οποία  συνήθως  πετούσαν  σε  αποστολές  ο Vurgaropulos και οι συνάδελφοί του στην 75η Μοίρα ήταν τα Ρ-40Ν, ενώ αντίθετα ο Zavakos και οι υπόλοιποι χειριστές της 76ης Μοίρας χρησιμοποιούσαν τα Ρ-51Β, έχοντας ήδη παραλάβει τον συγκεκριμένο τύπο (Ρ-51Α) από τον Νοέμβριο του 1943. Η αποστολή αναγνωρίσεως όμως, των εχθρικών αεροδρομίων, απαιτούσε διείσδυση σε μεγάλο βάθος στον εχθρικό εναέριο χώρο και πολύωρη παραμονή πάνω από την περιοχή του στόχου. Πρακτικά αυτό σήμαινε ότι υπήρχε μεγάλη πιθανότητα εμφάνισης ισχυρής εχθρικής διώξεως, γεγονός το οποίο θα καθιστούσε ευάλωτα δύο μοναχικά αεροσκάφη, διαφορετικού τύπου και επιδόσεων, που δεν θα είχαν τις ίδιες δυνατότητες αλληλοκάλυψης. Έτσι λοιπόν εξαιτίας των επικίνδυνων παραμέτρων της αποστολής που θα εκτελούσαν, αποφασίστηκε, πιθανόν με τη σύμφωνη γνώμη και των δύο χειριστών, να μη χρησιμοποιήσει ο Vurgaropulos το P-40N Warhawk. Προτιμήθηκαν και για τους δύο τα Ρ-51Β, για λόγους ομοιοτυπίας, κοινών τεχνικών χαρακτηριστικών, αλλά κυρίως, λόγω των καλύτερων επιδόσεων που διέθεταν, σε σύγκριση με τα Ρ-40Ν, όπως πχ. μεγαλύτερη αυτονομία, υψηλότερη ταχύτητα και ανώτερη ευελιξία. Ιδιότητες δηλαδή που θα αύξαναν την επιβιωσιμότητά τους. Επιπλέον ο James ήταν από τους πρώτους πιλότους της 75ης Μοίρας που πιστοποιήθηκαν στο Mustang. Στις 16:50 οι δύο Ελληνοαμερικανοί απογειώθηκαν από το αεροδρόμιο του Hengyang με δύο P-51B Mustang και κατευθύνθηκαν προς την περιοχή των αεροδρομίων στο Tangyang και στο Kingmen. Η καιρική κατάσταση που συνάντησαν οι χειριστές πάνω από τον στόχο, συνίσταντο σε ένα λεπτό στρώμα νεφών στα 12.000 πόδια, με την ορατότητα να φθάνει στα 2 μίλια, ενώ στο έδαφος υπήρχαν πυκνές ομίχλες. Αν και η αναγνώριση, λόγω των κακών καιρικών συνθηκών, κατέστη δυσχερής, οι δύο Έλληνες πετώντας σε χαμηλό ύψος διαπίστωσαν ότι στο Tangyang δεν υπήρχαν εχθρικά αεροσκάφη, ενώ στον εναέριο χώρο πάνω από την ευρύτερη περιοχή του αεροδρομίου, δεν εντοπίστηκε κάποιος εχθρικός σχηματισμός. Η κακή ορατότητα αποδείχτηκε, ταυτόχρονα, εχθρός αλλά και σύμμαχος των χειριστών. Στο αεροδρόμιο του Kingmen η ομίχλη ήταν τόσο πυκνή που η παρατήρηση ήταν σχεδόν αδύνατη. Παράλληλα όμως απέτρεψε τον έγκαιρο εντοπισμό των δύο Mustang, από τις ομοχειρίες των αντιαεροπορικών. Παρά τις δυσκολίες που αντιμετώπισαν ο Vurgaropulos και ο Zavakos, κατάφεραν να βρουν κάποια μικρά ανοίγματα του καιρού και με χαμηλές διελεύσεις να διαπιστώσουν ότι και σε αυτό το αεροδρόμιο, δεν υπήρχαν σταθμευμένα εχθρικά αεροσκάφη. Πιθανόν να είχαν μετακινηθεί σε άλλους τομείς του μετώπου προς υποστήριξη των Ιαπωνικών επιχειρήσεων. Στις 19:00 ακριβώς οι δύο χειριστές, έχοντας ολοκληρώσει με επιτυχία την αποστολή τους, επέστρεψαν στο αεροδρόμιο του Hengyang, όπου και προσγειώθηκαν με ασφάλεια».

Σύντομες βιογραφίες ακολουθούν στους παρακάτω συνδέσμους. Δεδομένου ότι ο Β' Τόμος της σειράς ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ ΣΕ ΞΕΝΑ COCKPIT είναι εξαντλημένος, στο μέλλον θα αναρτηθεί το κεφάλαιο σε μορφή pdf όπως ακριβώς είναι στις σελίδες του βιβλίου.


James Vurgropulos

Greek Version:


Harry Zavakos

Greek Version


George Santamouris’ painting (with his distinctive style which is close to comic or tribal art) was created to honour the mission when the two Greek pilots of the 23rd FG flew as a pair. Although they both actually flew P-51B in that mission we decided to feature the fighters they usually flew, a P-40N for Vurgaropulos and a P-51A for Zavakos.

Ο πίνακας του Γιώργου Σανταμούρη (με το ιδιαίτερο στυλ του, το οποίο είναι κοντά σε comic ή tribal art) δημιουργήθηκε προς τιμήν της συγκεκριμένης αποστολής κατά την οποία οι δύο Έλληνες πιλότοι της 23ης FG πέταξαν ως ζευγάρι. Αν και στην πραγματικότητα και οι δύο πέταξαν P-51B σε εκείνη την ημέρα, αποφασίσαμε να παρουσιάσουμε τα μαχητικά που πετούσαν συνήθως, ένα P-40N για τον Vurgaropulos και ένα P-51A για τον Zavakos.

Vlassie 21

Nicholas A. Vlassie

Nicholas  Andrew Vlassie, born on May 23, 1918, was the son of Andrew Constantine Vlassie from Corinth, Greece, and Photoula Vlassie (Nicholaides). Nick was the oldest followed by Emanuel (aka Manoli) who also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed at No. 3 Wireless School, Tuxedo during the Second World War, then Constantine and 14 years later his sister Katina was born.  Andrew came over in the early 1900s, landed in Rochester, New York and later went to LA. While he was in California he was contacted by a cousin in Winnipeg, who worked at the Royal Alexandra Hotel on Higgins, and told him to come to Winnipeg because it was a booming town and there was lots of work. It was called the "Chicago of the North". Andrew packed up and went to Canada, where he also started working at the hotel. Photoula came over in 1914 when she was 16 years old (born in 1898). Andrew wrote to her father to ask him for her hand in marriage and accepted only after he gave her daughter the choice. It is most probable that they knew each other as their families were both from Corinth. After the war, Andrew and his two sons Manoli and Constantine (Gus) purchased The Chocolate Shop, one of the oldest restaurants on Portage Avenue. This family business, a Winnipeg institution, was renowned for gorgeous pastries baked on the second floor and was a regular hangout for many. Manoli and Gus worked The Chocolate Shop for several decades and probably Nicholas would have joined them had he survived the war. Nicholas attended Gladstone and Kelvin Schools and was manager of the College Inn, Portage Avenue before enlistment. He was eager to join the war effort and it is certain that the Greek resistance against the Italian and German invaders motivated him. Actually, he did participate in actions of the Greek Canadian Winnipeg community to aid the war-harassed people of Greece, specifically two dances in which he was dressed in evzone, dancing with Greek folklore music. Nicholas honored Greek customs and according to his file he also spoke Greek fluently. He joined RCAF on September 14, 1942. Later he was posted to...


For more details please click the following link:

Greek Version



Vlassie 5
Vlassie 8
Nicholas Vlassie LL919

Please consider making a donation to Greeks in Foreign Cockpits to support our work !

Design & hosting by Bravo Bravo Aviation

© 2017-2024 Dimitris Vassilopoulos - All Rights Reserved