Kantjas 28

John Kantjas

John Kantjas was born in Deary, Idaho, on August 29, 1919, and was the son of Nicolas J. Kantjas, a Greek emigrant, and his wife Winnifred Grace Taylor. Nicolas's origin was probably from Mainalo, a small Greek village in Tripoli, in the Peloponesse area, and his original name was Nikolaos Kantzavelos. When he arrived in Ellis Island in 1905 at the age of 22 years old he shortened it to be easier to pronounce in English. Nicolas wasn't the only one from his family to immigrate. His brother Napoleon came also and lived in Chicago, Illinois according to John’s recollections. Unfortunately, Nicolas died when John was only 13 years old. Because he had a younger brother and a sister and because his sister was mentally ill, his mother sent him to live on a friend's ranch in Idaho. He loved that place - always talked about it. He was an avid outdoorsman - loved to hunt, fish, and camp. After high school he worked his way through college by working as a lumberjack and afterward he attended the University of Idaho, studying logistics, to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). According to his daughter Linda:

"I heard that while he was on the Lexington Carrier he used to study hard for the CPA exam instead of goofing around with the others."

Probably while at ...

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Kantjas 2
USN, SB2C-3 BuNo xxxxx, VB-19, USS Lexington, July-November 1944
Soulis Post

Samuel Soulis

Samuel Soulis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922, the son of Steve Soulis from Kalambaka, Trikala, and Katherine Arseniou Soulis. Later his family moved to Albany, New York. He graduated from Albany High School in 1940 and attended the College of St. Rose and Russell Sage. On July 28, 1942, he enlisted the US Army and entered the Gulf Coast Training Command with classification and preflight training in San Antonio Texas while his primary flight training took place in Coleman, Texas flying PT-19s with the 304th AAFFT. He continued his basic flight training in Waco Texas and advanced flying training in Eagle Pass, Texas. He graduated with Class 43-J as a Flight Officer and before his transfer overseas he completed his Operational Flight Training in Harris Neck, Georgia. While there he was attached to the 500th Fighter Bomber Squadron flying with AT-6 Harvards, P-40N Warhawks, and A-36 Apaches. According to the AAIR website, Samuel S. Soulis had an accident (LACSSP 5) in P-40N 43-24109 at Harris Neck AAF in Newport, Georgia, on March 27, 1944. LACSSP means Landing Accident, Stall/Spin, and 5 is the most serious category, which means the aircraft was destroyed. In the summer of 1944, he was posted overseas for combat duty. In August 1944 he was attached to CBI A.F.T.C for operational training. He flew ...


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Samuel - S- 7
USAAF, P-40N-15-CU, 42-106405, 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Group, China
Giftos VC 3a

Vassilios Giftos

Lieutenant Junior Grade Vassileios C. Giftos was born on December 20, 1922, the son of Constantine "Costi" Sarantos Giftos from Agios Petros, Αrcadia, and Helen Zee from Sparta. Constantine had lost his first wife, Helen Panesis from Agios Petros in Kilkis from flu during 1919, and remarried Helen Zee later. He was one of the five sons the couple had. According to his brother Peter, his father was appreciative to become a U.S. citizen and used to say, 'Don't you ever let me hear you say anything bad about this country,' He was proud of America." This however didn't stop him to teach his sons about Greece, the Greek language, and Orthodox beliefs something that is very clear in the application papers of Vassileios Officer Military File

Vassileios graduated from Pittsfield Highschool in 1940 and probably like many other Greek Americans motivated by the infamous Pearl Harbor raid and the gallant fight of Greece against the Axis and enlisted in the US Navy. He joined the Aviation Cadet V-5 training program on December 8, 1942, in NACSB (Naval Aviation Cadet Selection Board) New York, while attending Amherst College in Amherst MA,  hoping to be a Naval Aviator. He was called to attend the NPFS (Navy Pre-Flight School) in Chapel Hill, NC on June 3, 1943, which included...


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Giftos VC 1
USN, FM-2 Wildcat BuNo xxxxx, VC-86, USS Bismarck Sea, winter 1944-1945
Kavouklis Post

Nick Kavouklis


Nick Kavouklis was born on March 7, 1953, in Tarpon Springs, Fl, he was the son of the late Nicketas N. Kavouklis and Elaine Walton Kavouklis. His family was one of the first Greek immigrant families in Tarpon Springs. His grandfather Lazaros Kavouklis was from Kalymnos island, married to Olga Moustastos who came from the island of Aegina in 1916 and settled in Tarpon Springs. Lazaros and Olga Kavouklis had four children, Nicketas, Katherine, Mary, and Evelyn. Lazaros immigrated to the United States along with his brother Nicholas, married to Athanasia Katsigre who came from the island of Hydra. As was the custom in those days Lazaros Kavouklis being the oldest brother, was the leader. When they came to Tarpon Springs they were poor people. But they worked together and did well. Quite naturally they worked in the sponge fishing industry. They bought a coffee shop on Athens Street near the sponge docks. Lazaros Kavouklis bought the home previously owned by Captain Sam Hope, one of the first settlers of Tarpon Springs. Nicholas Kavouklis bought a...


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Kavouklis 7
Sermos - post

Gus Sermos

Gus Nick Sermos Father, Nick Gus Sermos heritage was from Gardiki, Lamia Greece and he was born on Feb 4, 1888. He immigrated to the United States at age 17 along with his brother or uncle George. His actual name was Nicholas Konstantinos Scarmoutsos and changed while at Ellis Island. He traveled to Price, Utah where he met a Greek friend, or he was his Uncle, named George Pappas who owned a store or restaurant. Nick later ran the General Store which was the candy store for the Mining Company. He married Louise/ Louisa Poole Hatch Sermos and was blessed with two children, Gus Nick Sermos and Helen Sermos who was four years older than Gus. They both went to Carbon High School. Gus was in the Band playing Tuba, in Debate Club and Tennis Club and he was also Boy Scout. According to his daughter Melinda:

"He made straight A's, I was told. He was very much an idealist and perfectionist and very patriotic and brilliant".

He entered service on July 17, 1941, in Salt Lake City, joining the NavCad. The volunteer naval reserve class V-5 Naval Aviation Cadet (NavCad) program purpose was to use civilian and enlisted candidates to train as aviation cadets. Candidates had to be....

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USN, F6F-3 BuNo xxxxx, Gus Sermos, VF-50, USS Bataan
Diamanti - Post

Walker Diamanti

Walker (Alkiviades) Diamanti was born in Helper Utah in October 1921, the seventh son of Ioannis "John" Gregorios Diamanti(s) and Efthemia "Mae" Aguridis. John Diamanti(s), as well as Efthemia, came from a little village in central Greece called Mavrolithari, in Fokida, one of the highest villages in Greece at 1140m altitude. He was the oldest of five boys and dropped out of school at age eleven to herd sheep. He did that until he emigrated to the United States. As is the story with many immigrants, he begged and borrowed a few dollars. In those days, it took seventy dollars for a boat to Naples and from Naples to New York, with still enough head money to get you in when you arrived. John indebted himself to get to America. He arrived with the flood of immigrants coming at the time. He was picked up by a Greek labor organizer in New York and immediately put on a railroad labor gang, where he punched tunnels for $1.35 a ten-hour shift. This must have been foreign to him and very hard. But he saved money and ended up in Chicago as a butcher, which is closer to his line of work because during those days all Greeks knew how to butcher and skin animals. From there he received letters from his friends in Carbon County, Utah, who were working the coal mines. They bade him come where they said work was plentiful and wages were good. He came to Carbon County during 1904-1905. It was an active coal mining area. He went to Helper and went into the sheep business with an older Greek, who soon after departed. He was one of those Greek men who came to make it ....

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Diamanti 6
USAAF, P-47D-27-RE, 42-26860, Angie, 512 FS, 406 FG - Stage 3 - late 1944 or early 1945
Christelis 8 (A9069)

Constantine Christelis

Constantine's father Christos, from the island of Imbros, first traveled to Khartoum, a regional trade centre in Sudan, in the southern Sahara, to make his mark. There he heard about the vast discoveries of gold and opportunities in South Africa. The lure of the new El Dorado sparked the world’s largest gold rush. It drew a large influx of foreigners from around the globe in search of fortune, who were enticed by feverish dreams of great wealth and opportunity. In 1905, he took off and traveled steerage to South Africa to seek his fortune in the burgeoning gold-mining town of Germiston, South Africa. He returned financially established to Imbros in 1912, to find a bride and married a young Eleni. During the First Balkan War in 1913, when Turkey took control of the Imbros, most of the island’s Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians fled. Christos left with his pregnant wife, brothers, extended family and settled in Germiston, South Africa. Constantine, the son of Christos and Eleni, the second youngest of six children, was born on November 1, 1920, in South Africa. They affectionately called him by his nickname, Cossie. In South Africa, the ‘Corner Café’, typified the early Greek and Cypriot immigrants, they worked long, hard hours behind the till staying open for extended hours. These new immigrants saw the cafés as a stepping stone towards a better financial position and a better life for themselves and their families. Most of them were invited to South Africa by relatives and fellow countrymen. The early Greeks described this influx phenomenon as ‘chain immigration. When an immigrant arrived in the new country, he typically worked as a ‘μπακαλόγατος’ bakalogatos, a counter assistant, to gain the experience necessary to earn, save, in time open his own business. In time, he required assistance in his business and invited relatives from Greece to join him, thus continuing the chain of immigration. The long hours and hardships in the cafés prevented these entrepreneurs from having any social life. Even worse for the Greek immigrant retailers, they were often subjected to periodic outbursts of verbal and physical abuse arising out of xenophobia. Christos and Eleni Christelis toiled away behind the counter of Olympia, the first corner café in Georgetown, Germiston, in the heart of the Rand goldfields. Christos also owned three racehorses at Gosforth Park Race Club, a major horse racing facility, in the Transvaal, he died in 1936. The whole Christelis clan did well, they became property owners and contributed to the development of the Greek community in Germiston.

From a young age, Cossie was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith, serving as an altar boy. He attended Germiston High School, an English-medium government school established in Germiston in September 1917 with the school motto “Scientia et Humanitas”, Science and Culture. He played sport at school and loved the game of rugby. The school once....

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Christelis 1
Christelis 6 (A9711)
Christopoulos - Post

Arthur Christopoulos

Αrthur George Christopoulos was born on October 7, 1930, to George Arthur Christopoulos (April 10, 1889) and Helen Maria Raptis Christopoulos, from Spartias, near Agrinion, Greece. George had two brothers, Nikolaos and Vassilios and, a sister, Maria. Their father was Athanassios G. Christopoulos. George Arthur, emigrated from Patras, Greece on April 23, 1912, arriving through Ellis Island in New York on May 20, 1912, aboard the SS Martha Washington. Upon his arrival in New York, George was “picked up” and shuttled off to the Boston area and placed into what could be considered to be a slave labor situation. He worked 12-18 hours a day in the “deep sinks” for 50 cents a day, 7 days a week. He studied hard in his spare time to learn English and the naturalization requirements and to acclimate to the United States. He was drafted in WWI and was discharged in less than 60 days due to Tuberculosis. Thanks to an active exercise program under the direction of Jerry Longros, he survived and returned to good health. On January 21, 1921, he filed a petition for naturalization and became a naturalized citizen in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, in Brockton, Massachusetts on January 2, 1924, and was issued a Certificate of Naturalisation No. 1901756. He was extremely proud of his accomplishment and flew the US Flag on all holidays and special occasions. By 1926, George Christopoulos was had become a successful restaurateur in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts until the late 1920’s when he journeyed to Maine and settled in Augusta, Maine. There, he met Mildred Vincent Mason and married on May 2, 1929. Together they had 9 children, Arthur George being the oldest son. Unfortunately, Athanassios, his father, was killed by the Germans in WWII after being tortured by them in the war and they were never to meet again.

Upon graduation from Gardiner High School in 1948, Arthur served with the Maine National Guard while he was also working on his family business. He entered Officer Candidate School, USAF on March 21, 1955, and graduated on September 9, 1955. After his flying training and gaining his silver wings, he was posted to the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying F-100 Super Sabres. He deployed numerous times in Europe, especially France and Italy. From 1963 to 1966 he served in the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, in RAF Bentwaters, England equipped with the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo. The Voodoos were to remain at Bentwaters for seven years, before...

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Christopoulos 19
Christopoulos 23
USAF F-4C XC 64-0769

Myron Papadakis

Myron P. Papadakis is the son of Phillipos and Helen Papadakis. Phillipos was born in Voutais Crete and immigrated to the United States alone at the age of 16 inboard SS Invernia in 1912. He lived in harsh conditions and worked in Mason city cement factory while attending school. Through hard work and study, he completed school and entered the University of Cedar Rapids, studying Chemistry. Halfway through his studies, he joined the US Army to fight in WW1. Although applied for the United States Army Air Corps he wasn’t accepted because he wasn’t yet an American citizen. He was appointed a drill instructor and also as a recruiter of young Greeks to join the fight. He was given an award for being the best recruiter of this nature in the Country. Myron P. Papadakis graduated from High School in 1958. He won a United States Navy NROTC scholarship to attend the University. Each summer he went on Navy Required training. The first was onboard the Destroyer USS Osborne DD-846. The second summer was split between Aviation indoctrination in Texas and Marine indoctrination in California, while the last summer was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger CVA-61. In 1963 he completed studies at the University of Nebraska and in 1963 he graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. Upon graduation, he has commissioned a USN Ensign and...

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Pappy 10

George Marcou

Wing Commander George Marcou was born in Alexandria, Egypt on June 17, 1914. His parents were Dimitrios Marcou, a lawyer from Corfu, Greece, and Ida Rossi who was born in Malta. Shortly after their wedding, the couple settled permanently in Alexandria. In the following years, Dimitrios and Ida were blessed with six children, four girls, and two boys. Alice was born first, who later immigrated permanently to the United States, unlike her other siblings who settled in Greece and South Rhodesia. The twins, Helen and Lucy followed, along with another daughter Mary and then George and Nolly. Unfortunately, the youngest child in the family, Nolly, died a few years later from an unknown cause. This fact greatly saddened George Marcou who always, even in his old age, spoke with sorrow and pain, about the loss of his younger brother! Another unpleasant event that disturbed their family's peace, was the failure of Dimitrios Marcou, in the courtroom. He lost a very important trial, and as a result, he fell into a deep depression for a long time! In the early 1920s, the family moved permanently to Athens. During his student years, young George was a diligent and excellent student. His father, seeing in the face of his only son, the continuation of himself, was very proud of him and hope that he would study law. So, after his successful graduation from high school, he entered the ....

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RAF, Harvard Mk II AJ681, No 20 Service Flying Training School, Cranborne, Southern Rhodesia

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