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 ...
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