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IOANNIS TSOLEKAS

"If you can master the F-4, you can master any aircraft in the world". These were some wise and later to comprehend words, an instructor once told young Lieutenant Ioannis (Yannis) Tsolekas during his pilot training at the F-4 training squadron, back in the mid ‘90s. Yannis realised and still realises how true those words are throughout his flight test career until this very day that this article is written. The F-4 is maybe one of the most “strange” fighter jet aircraft designs that were ever built, but so widely and so successfully used for many years by many Air Forces around the world. This design failed most of the military standards against which it was called to comply with, based on the certification process the USAF uses for every new military aircraft design. The unique flying characteristics of this design, required significant pilot compensation and at the same time excellent piloting skills and complete knowledge of aerodynamics. This was because the specific airplane required the pilot to be way ahead of it, and would forgive very few mistakes. The pilots who would quickly realise that, and those who had the skills to understand its uniqueness, were the ones who were able to fly the airplane to its full effectiveness.

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/test-pilots-flight-test-engineers/ioannis-tsolekas/

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SABE LEGATOS MEMORIAL (NOV.7, 2019)

After 20+ years of research, the story of Sabe Legatos with heritage from the beautiful Greek island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea will be told. Hopefully, the killed in action Greek American US Navy Hellcat Pilot will return to his home in Sacramento CA, if his niece's DNA will match with those from unaccounted pilots found in Japan. However, whatever the results might be, the combined efforts of the Greeks in Foreign Cockpits team, the Japanese researcher Kenji Sudo, the Sacramento Greek American community leading in this matter by Nick Alexander and the US Government ( Congressional staff member Greg Holt) already produced results as the final moments of Legatos and Japanese Army Air Force pilot, Matsunaga revealed to us. Kenji presented a self-published work about these two heroes which he kindly sent copies for us in Greece. A month ago in Sacramento, a memorial ceremony took place for Sabe with the presence of all those mentioned above, albeit without us. For that reason, we wrote a small letter addressed to the Greek American community, which was given to all the participants.

A small tribute and preview of things to come in our Volume C of GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS regarding Sabe Legatos can be accessed in the following link.

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/sabe-legatos/

Also, you can read Kenji Sudo and Nick Alexander's speech (and the video from Kenji speech) as well as our letter which addressed to the Greek American community of Sacramento in the link below:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/interviews-presentations-magazine-articles/sacramento-2019/

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GEORGE JATRAS

Colonel George Jatras was born in Clairton, Pennsylvania on March 29, 1931.  His parents were both from Lakonia, with his father Agisilaos Iatreidis from (to the best of Jatras’s knowledge) from Melitini (also called Zelina) and his mother Coula (Poulikakou) originally from Mani but having grown up in Stefania. Jatras’s wife of 60 years, Stella (Stavroula), who died in 2013, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, to parents from the same region: Louis (Leonidas) Katsetos from Krokee’ (also called Levetsova) and Marini (Sakellariou) from Tarapsa (also called Vasilakion). After graduating from Anderson High School, Indiana in June 1948, Jatras attended Ball State Teacher’s College, Muncie, Indiana; the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland; and graduated from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana in May 1954 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics and a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.  He also holds ...

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/george-jatras/

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PETER TSOUPRAKE

Peter Tsouprake was born on February 4, 1928, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was the son of a Greek parentage couple, Charles and Irene Leoutsakos-Tsouprake. Charles (Kyriakos) and Irene (Eirene) were both from Mani Peloponnese and most probably the family name was actually Tsuprakos. The couple emigrated from Greece separately at the turn of the century and married in New Bedford, MA where they had 7 children, two daughters, and five sons. Peter was the last born and the youngest child. Peter was active in the ROTC at New Bedford High School and was voted Most Military in his high school class. Eager to join all six of his elder brothers and sisters in serving his nation, at age 17 he forged his father’s signature on his U.S. Army enlistment form, and joined the U.S. Army in December 27, 1945. He traveled to North Dakota, where he served as a Weather Forecaster before leaving active duty on November 15, 1948. Peter then attended Brown University, and upon...

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/nfos-wsos-mission-co/peter-tsouprake/

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DANNY & GEORGE MICHAELS

For the second time on our website, we are proud to present you with a combined tribute for a father and a son. Natural born eagles someone could say. Danny and George Michaels (Michalopoulos) both wore proudly the Wing of Gold as many Greek Americans before them, flying in combat in WW2, a story that will soon be revealed in our upcoming volume C, of GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS series of books. 

 

The father Danny Michaels was one of the first USN pilots who flew the Phabulous Phantom in combat and had the distinction to fly two combat tours in Yankee Station, with VF-102 & VF-103. For his gallantry in combat, he was awarded the DFC. But even before joining the combat over Vietnam he was the first USN pilot in exchange duty with the USAF, helping the Air Force pilots how to fly McDonnell’s beast in lent USN F-4Bs because the modified F-4Cs hadn’t delivered yet.

 

For more details follow this link: https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/danny-michaels/

 

The son George Michaels was inevitable to join the Navy. Wanting to fly like his father he pursued his cause to be a pilot but unfortunately, he was informed that his eyesight wasn’t “pilot worthy”. Nevertheless, he stayed on course and managed to get his Gold Wings as a Naval Flight Officer, having the privilege to fly as Radar Intercept Officer the mighty F-14 Tomcat, the pride of USN fighters. His callsign...WHAM..what else, as his name almost matches the great Greek Cypriot singer, George Michael, remembered for his success with the WHAM! He served with distinction, flying in combat over Afghanistan following his father's tradition.   

 

For more details follow this link: https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/nfos-wsos-mission-co/george-michael/

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PAUL N. BACALIS VISIT IN GREECE

Today I had the pleasure to meet Perry Bacalis and his wife Maria, in Piraeus. Perry is the son of Paul N. Bacalis, a USAF 2-Star General who fought gallantly during the WW2, flying his ‘Snooper’ B-24 Liberator on anti-ship missions in the South China Sea region. Bacalis awarded with a Silver Star and a DFC for his actions during WW2 but his career evolved in the Air Force becoming Wing CO of a Strategic Wing equipped with B-52s, SR-71s, and KC-135s. Before that, he was also attached to the CIA's project OXCART and contributed to the operational debut of the Lockheed A-12 over South East Asia and later worked also on the Blackbird. For what it is known so far, it is the only Greek American Looking Glass CO meaning that he was in command and control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event that ground-based command centers have been destroyed or otherwise rendered inoperable. In such an event, as the general officer aboard the Looking Glass, he served as the Airborne Emergency Action Officer (AEAO)and by law assumed the authority of the National Command Authority and could command execution of nuclear attacks. His story will be unveiled in our third volume of GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS with the valuable help of the Bacalis family. Furthermore, for me personally, it’s a great honor because Bacalis heritage is from a nearby village to mine outside Pýrgos in Ilia District. During their visit, I was able to hand them over the original painting created by none other than my brother in arms, George Moris, who unfortunately couldn’t be with us, as well as to give them a print of the excellent profile made by my French brother, Bertrand Brown.

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The day closed unexpectedly when Perry and Maria present me also a special gift for me. A framed box along with Paul N. Bacalis Generals Stars from his uniform during his service in the together with an engraved dedication for me. I could hide neither my joy nor my gratitude for the honor they did make to my person and through me to the whole team of the GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS….12 months left..only!

VMA-211 Avengers A-4E Skyhawk BuNo 150032, CF-14, 1964-65.

RALPH BYRON PAPPAS

Ralph Byron Pappas was a USMC pilot who was killed during the Vietnam War, not while flying his precious Skyhawk but while being on the ground, serving as a Forward Air Controller for his brothers Marines. His family story was quite interesting. Peter D. Pappas (Papadimitropoulos) immigrated to the US from Greece (Crete) in approximately 1899 and settled in the Boston area. After arrival, he met  Fannie Stefis, also Greek who lived in Manchester, MY and subsequently married. The couple had a child named James P. Pappas who was born in 1908 in Manchester, NH. The family returned to Crete where James went to school for several years. Then returned to the US where James attended Boston Latin School, Harvard University and Tufts Medical School. He served as an Army Surgeon for thirty years, including WWII and Korea, and retired as a Colonel. He was a physician attached to Eisenhower Allied Expeditionary Force on D-Day.  In addition, he received a medal from the Greek Government for his WWII service and was involved with the development of South Korea's Public Health system. James P. Pappas married Ann Cordelia MacLennan a Canadian of Scottish/English heritage and they had two children, Ralph Byron and James. 


Ralph Byron Pappas was born in Panama in 1940. He commonly was known as “Barney." After attending Francis C. Hammond High School, Alexandria, VA, he enlisted to the Marine Corps and served from 1959 to 1962 as a Corporal in HQ, MCB Quantico. In 1963 he attended the Platoon Leader Class and during 1964 he applied for the Marine Aviation Department. He began his training in Marine Aviation Training Support Group 22 in NAS Corpus Christi in Texas flying his advanced training in T-2 Buckeyes. During 1965 he was posted to Marine Air Group 33 where he received his operational training in A-4 Skyhawks and... 

For more click the link below.

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/ralph-byron-pappas/

 

 

 

 

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FRANKLIN A. CARAS

Franklin A. Caras (Kyriakos or Kyreakos) was born on January 19, 1934, in Spanish Fork, Utah County and was the son of the Greek immigrant Angel Caras and his wife Mary Caras (Sorenson). Angel was almost 15 years old when he left Greece around 1912 and his heritage was from Leontion village in Achaia district in Peloponnese. The couple was blessed to have 6 children. In approximately 1935, Angel Caras imported three bred Suffolk ewes from Canada. His oldest son, Earnest, wanted to begin a flock of sheep as a Future Farmers of America project. At one time the business consisted of father, Angel, sons, Earnest, Andrew, Franklin, and Jim. They called it Angel Caras and Sons. Later Angel became a Mormon and both he and his wife Mary were the first Mormon missionaries in Greece and while getting back home he met his family members in his village. Franklin graduated from Spanish Fork High School and attended Utah State University in Logan where he was affiliated with ROTC and applied for pilot training in the United States Air Force on April 21, 1955, in Parks AFB, CA. An interesting detail is that when Frank was younger...

For more click the link below.

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/franklin-caras/

 

 

 

 

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GEORGE T. PAPPAS

Commander George T. Pappas, USN, was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1940. He was the son of the Greek immigrant Theodore Pappas and Ruby Pappas. Theodore came in the United States traveling from Pireus to New York onboard a ship named Constantinople in 1923 while he was 28 years old while Ruby was born in Scotland about 1909. Like many Greeks, he started his own restaurant business. George entered the Navy in 1950 as a Naval Aviation Cadet after attending the Howard College and then the University of Alabama and he was a great football player He earned his Navy Wings of Gold in May 1952. He served his first tour of duty with VA-104 at NAS Jacksonville, Fla. flying the FG-1D Corsair and later the AD Skyraider. This was followed by two years of academic study in economics at the University of Alabama. In February of 1957, he reported to the Basic Training Command and became a flight instructor. After attending a year of school at the U. S. Naval Post-graduate School, Monterey he resumed his role as an attack pilot in VA-165 while performing as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer. His next tour...

For more click the link below.

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/george-pappas/

 

 

 

 

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GUS J. STATHIS

Konstantine Efstathiou Stathis was born in 1941 in Jacksonville, Florida. His father Ioannis was born in Leonidio, Peloponnese and his mother Metaxia is from Spetses and grew up in Athens. His parents emigrated to the United States from Greece in 1936 and settled in Jacksonville, Florida. His father Ioannis, opened the Stathis Restaurant near the Naval Base and was known for not charging servicemen for food. His uncle John M. Cocoris, also from Leonidio, introduced sponge diving to Tarpon Springs in 1905 and recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands. Nobody could write about his career other than Lt. Col. Gus J. Stathis.

“I graduated in1963 from ‘The Citadel’ Military College, South Carolina. Because I did not like to march, they offered me the chance to be in the flying program, which was the first step to flight training. After graduation, I entered the United States Air Force Flight Training Program at Laredo AFB, Texas. The first jet plane I flew was the T-37 and then the T-33. In order to graduate from Flight School...

For more click the link below.

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/gus-stathis/

 

 

 

 

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