Top Gun Aggressors

CHRISTOPHER ‘POPS’ PAPAIOANU

CDR Christopher ‘POPS’ Papaioanu was born in Fontana, California, son of George and Lynda Papaioanu. The family immigrated from Greece to the United States in the early 1900s. Christopher’s grandmother, Athanasia Gianniosis, was born in 1907 in modern-day Artemisio. In 1914, Athanasia immigrated to the United States with her mother and brother, eventually making their way to Pasadena, California. Christopher’s grandfather, Andreas Papaioannou, was born in 1894 in modern-day Kefalovryso. Andreas immigrated to the United States in 1918 through Ellis Island. Upon entering Ellis Island, local officials said his name was too long and made him take out two letters. On the spot, Andreas changed his last name from Papaioannou to Papaioanu, and it has retained the new spelling ever since. Andreas worked for a time with a family.... 

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/chris-papaioanu/

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BENOIT ANTONIOU

Benoit Antoniou heritage is from Greece. His grandparents left from Greece and search for a better luck in France the past century. He entered the Armée de l'air in 1993 and graduate as a fighter pilot in 1997. . He joined the Escadron 1/5 "Vendée" in 1998 and served for 8 years from the cockpit of Mirage 2000s. As a pilot of French Air Defense Quick Reaction Forces, he participated in the Alysse Operation (Better known with the American name as Operation Southern Watch) in Saudi Arabia twice. He also took part in lots of exercises in various countries (especially in Greece in 2005). From 2005-2008 he was attached to a unit near Paris in which he was responsible for flight crew equipment programs (replacement of MK4 seats with MK10L on the Alphajet fleet and commissioning of new flight helmets) while he was in direct communications with the military industry during various programs development ensuring that these were aligned with the financial resources and the strategy of the armed forces. For the next four years he was posted to Mont de Marsan and acted as a Director of the Combat Training Center (distributed simulation) and he was engaged in training of Armée de l’air and foreign air forces personnel. As part of this command, with a team of 5 instructors he trained ....

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/benoit-antoniou/

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PAUL SKARLATOS

Paul Skarlatos, Navy Captain, United States Naval Academy, Class of 1954,  was born in Rochester, NY, USA, in 1930 to Nicholas Skarlatos and Ioanna (maiden name -  Triandafilakos) Skarlatos. His father was born in the village of Grammousa, Greece and his mother was born in Filisi, Greece, both from Laconia district. Nicholas was a business partner of Ioanna’s first husband, George Andrew Lembaris. They all emigrated to the United States between 1917 and 1924,  became naturalized American citizens, and Nicholas and George established a restaurant in Rochester, NY (the South Ave. Candy Kitchen – known for its homemade chocolates and ice cream).  Ionanna (known as Joan) married George in 1925, and they had two sons together, Andrew and George. When..

For more click the following link:

https://www.greeks-in-foreign-cockpits.com/pilots-crews/fighter-pilots/paul-scarlatos/

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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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