Harbilas 6a


Jim Harbilas was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts to Nicholas and Angelika Harbilas. He and his siblings, William, Julie, John, and Sophie were the first generation to be born in the United States after their parents immigrated from Kouteli, Kalavryta, Greece. After graduating from Holyoke High School, Jim joined the US Navy as an Apprentice Seaman on May 28, 1940, and was selected to receive pilot training at Pensacola in 1942, joining the ranks of enlisted aviators known as Mustangs in a program entitled Silver Eagles which was an experimental pilot training program to train enlisted sailors as pilots, due to extreme war needs.  He was designated as Naval Aviation Pilot on May 18, 1942, and although most of the enlisted pilots either left the Navy or were rated as Warrant Officers, Jim became a Commissioned Officer and was named a Naval Aviator on December 23, 1943. He was assigned to VPB-34 Squadron while operating under Fleet Air Wing Eleven, based at Guantanamo Bay from October 1942 to June 1943. The core of the squadron's operations was training in a low-altitude bombing at night...


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Greek Version



Harbilas 3
USN, PBY-5 BuNo 08496, Lt Ellis Fisher, VP-34, Samarai, Papua New Guineau, February 1944
Armatas 11


Alexander Armatas is the son of the late Telemahos "Telly" Armatas, of Syracuse, NY, (passed away on December 10, 2013). Telemahos was born in Fterno, Lefkada, Greece to Spiro and Evangelia Armatas (Sklavenitis) on March 17, 1954. He moved to Syracuse from Athens, Greece at the age of 16 and, faced with the difficulties of young adulthood, he learned English and graduated from Nottingham High School. He went on to a number of jobs but ultimately landed at FedEx, where he worked as a courier for 27 years. He married Kathy Burke and the couple was blessed with four children, Alexander, Gabriel, Christopher, and Evangelia. Alexander’s passion for aviation was inherited from his father.

"He took me to the Syracuse airport when I was really young, probably six or seven years old. I remember seeing the airplanes and being fascinated. As I learned about aviation and developed my passion for aviation, I started to lean toward the military just because of the opportunities. I wanted to do the hardest thing there was to do in aviation and really challenge myself. At the time, and probably even now, you could argue the hardest thing to do in aviation is to land a high-performance aircraft on an aircraft carrier. There’s only one place you can do that."

Alexander Armatas went to school in Jordan-Elbridge and finished his last two years of high school in Skaneateles. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. Alexander was designated a Naval Aviator at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Mississippi, in June 2005, and received order to...


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Greek Version



Armatas 1
Armatas 5
USN FA-18E BlueAngels I

Петр Иванович ХАРА

Пётр Иванович Хара was born on May 15, 1908, in the Staromlinovka Staro-Kermechensky (now Velikonovosilkovsky) village in the Donetsk region, the son of a peasant Greek family. We do not know so far the family history or the actual Greek surname. However, a short story about Greek presence is vital to understand Пётр life. Greeks came to the Crimea — a dramatically mountainous peninsula that juts into the Black Sea — in the 5th century B.C., or maybe even the 7th, or just possibly, based on some archaeological digs there, the 9th. The Greeks arrived in present-day Ukraine before the Tatars, before the Russians, before the Jews, and possibly even before the Ukrainians themselves. In fact, maybe Ukraine’s oldest existing ethnic group. What’s indisputable, though, is that when they got to the region around today’s Donetsk, in easternmost Ukraine they were most definitely the first settlers. The Crimean Greeks lived for about 300 years under the rule of the Muslim Khanate, and when imperial Russia made a move to conquer the Crimea they asked Catherine the Great to offer them her protection. She ordered them to leave the area they lived in for the past two millenniums and set up in a new land just acquired in her Empire, far to the east. She practically moved the entire Greek population there. She awarded lands to the Greeks and...


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Петр Иванович ХАРА

Greek Version

Петр Иванович ХАРА

Xapa 1
Spanish Republican AF, I-16 type 5


What is most exciting about writing and researching about Greek and Greek parentage pilots in service with other Air Forces is when I meet one of these remarkable men who are willing to tell their story by themselves. The following is written by one extraordinary man and pilot who had a great career as an aviator which only recently came to its end. But as they say, "once an aviator, always an aviator". I'm very enthusiastic to present to the Greeks worldwide and also to any aviation enthusiast all over the world, John Politis, a member of the famous Canadian Aerobatic Team, the Snowbirds. In his own words:

"I was born in Athens in 1956. I immigrated to Canada as a two-year-old in 1958. My father was from Thouria, Kalamata and my Mother was from Athens. I can remember wanting to grow up and be a pilot since I was five years old. Flying lessons were expensive. My hard-working parents, who had only immigrated to Canada 14 years earlier, did not have the means to finance my training. So every night after school I worked full time, delivering food for a restaurant owned by my uncle, to earn the money required. I was 16 years old, the legal age to fly solo. Over the next 12 months, I flew as often as possible; at 17 years of age, I received my Private Pilots License. The following year, just after turning 18, I was accepted into the Canadian Air Force. I boarded a train (it was 1974) and waved a tearful goodbye to my parents and my Papou. I received my pilot’s wings


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John Politis 24
RCAF Tutor SB8
Pappas GD14


Second Lieutenant George J. Pappas was born in Caldwell, Texas in 1916, to Greek immigrant parents who arrived in the United States via Ellis Island, New York, seeking a better life and refuge from the oppression of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire both in Greece and in Asia Minor. His father John G. Pappas and his mother Georgia Pappas were from Moutsounitsa in the Fokida district in Greece. Georgia's family was from Halkidiki, then under Turkey's occupation, and end up in Thessaloniki. Pappas family eventually settled in Houston with his father John, who engaged in the restaurant business, where usually Greeks excelled. He was the oldest of 4 boys (Nick, Victor, and Thames), and the family was fiercely proud of its new homeland and citizenship. George loved to fly, and his patriotism and desire to serve the country that welcomed his parents and brothers never waned throughout his life. His beloved wife, Ella (“Pug”), had a similar Greek immigrant story and her father ran a confectionery candy store both in Houston. He attended Texas A&M and the University of Houston, before deciding to join the Army a year before Pearl Harbor. On November 25, 1940, he entered active duty and initially served briefly in the cavalry at Brownsville, Texas, before receiving his commission at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He later …

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Pappas G1
USAAF, B-17G-65-BO, 43-37533, 511 BS, 351 BG, August 1944
Haniotis Fl.Line


George Haniotis was born in 1920, the son of Konstantin Haniotis and Maria Peristeri in Okmulgee Oklahoma. Konstantin was from Smyrna in Asia Minor and first came to the United States in 1906. Speaking fluently Greek, English, French, and Italian he was immediately employed in the theater business and a few years later he opened his own, the Yale Theater in Okmulgee. He went back to Smyrna and married Maria in 1914 and after a honeymoon trip in Venice, the couple traveled to the United States. They were blessed with five children, two girls, and three sons, unfortunately, the first daughter passed away very early. World War 2 found all three brothers serving in the armed forces.  George entered the Army Air Force and trained as a fighter pilot. He told his parents that he enlisted in order to fight for a good cause, God, and his country. He was a great character and obsessed with fitness. He was so passionate about his physical status that later, during his service in New Guinea, his fellow pilots called him "fitness freak". Just before he completed his flight training he...

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Greek Version


Haniotis 1
460 Lancaster 5


Diomede Alexandratos was born in Shepparton on 6 February 1922.  His paternal grandfather, Efstathios Alexandratos, was a ship's captain from Ithaca who migrated to Australia in the 1880s and settled in Bendigo.  Diomedes's father Andreas (1872-1950) followed suit in 1901 and started his own business as a fruit vendor in central Melbourne, which enabled him to bring out his two brothers, and later his wife Sophia, from Greece.  Together, the three men operated a successful cafe in Elizabeth Street until 1914, when the partnership ended.  Andreas and Sophia then moved to Shepparton, where they established the town's first cafe. Graduating from Caulfield Grammar in 1940, the young Diomedes Alexandratos worked in a land surveyor’s office and drafted plans for factories. In December 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he decided to join the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). From March 25 to August 5, 1942, he served in the 4th Anti-Aircraft Regiment. He enlisted in RAAF for aircrew training on August 6, 1942, in No.1 REC Center at the age of 20 years old, and ....

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Greek Version


Diomedes 2a
RAF, Lancaster B III, JB739, No 406 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, January 1945
Pakis 14


James "Pakis" Papazoglakis, was born April 7, 1923, in New York City, NY. He was the son of Andonios Hatzidimitris Papazoglakis and Andronique Papazoglakis, who immigrated to the United States from Alatsata, in the Smyrna area of Asia Minor. He arrived in Ellis Island, New York on November 16, 1907. The couple also had a daughter named Catherine. James was raised as a normal NY kid for the time. He had a bike and a paper route. He played stickball in the streets and tried going to as many Dodger games as possible. Jim finished high school as WW2 was starting. Because he was too young, his enlistment papers required his parents’ signature. After his father refused to sign for a position in the corps of engineers (because building bridges was dangerous) Jim got him to agree to the Navy, where he served in the "less" perilous position of a tail gunner on a TBF Grummond Avenger Torpedo Bomber. It must be noted that he enlisted against his father's objections because as he said to his son, "they took one country away from us and not another." With WW2 in full scale during 1942, James decided to enlist in the US Navy on December 15, 1942, in the Navy Receiving Station (NRS) New York and he ....

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Greek Version


Pakis 2a
AVENGER clarabelle
Stopulos 1


Captain James C. Stopulos was born in Davenport, Iowa, on May 22, 1917, the son of Greek immigrants. His father, Gus Stopulos, was born in Tripoli on March 28, 1871, and in 1902 he emigrated to the United States seeking a better life. His mother Eleni Dimitrakopoulou (Helen Dimitrak) was born in the village of Alonistena on May 21, 1887, and was a descendant of Zambia Kotsaki, mother of Theodoros Kolokotronis. James C. Stopulos, always referred with great pride to the fact that his roots intersected with those of the greatest warlord of the Greek Revolution of 1821. In the first correspondence we had with him, many years ago, the veteran aviator enthusiastically referred to his family relationship with the legendary hero of '21, even though he was not his direct descendant. In January 2007, he wrote to Georgios Chalkiadopoulos the following: 

"Thank you for your interest in the story about the 'Athenian Avenger'. The name came about when a Jewish friend of mine suggested that I name my plane in honor of the Greek patriots and for the Jews in the concentration camps, my mission was to seek  revenge for those atrocities. I was born in America, graduated from college..."

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Greek Version


Stopulos 3
USAAF, B-17G-55-BO, 42-102694, 'Athenian Avenger', 332BS, 94 BG, 1944


Thomas D. Samaras was born on January 29, 1921, the son of Demetrios Samaras from Koritsa in Northern Epirus and Anna Pappaiosif. He graduated from Garfield High School in January 1939, taking 5th place in the award for the 10 best students at his school. He continued his studies at the university of his city, Akron University, in science since mathematics, physics, and chemistry were subjects that the young Greek American loved. At the end of 1941 and with WWII in full scale, he made the big decision to become a pilot and chose to join navy ROTC, which was preparing future pilots for the Fleet. On July 17, 1942, he was presented at the NACSB Recruitment & Training Center in Detroit and on August 7, 1942, at his previous request, he was named Aviation Cadet (V-5). On December 15, 1942, Samaras was ordered to Atlanta, Georgia, for the start of his Pre-Flight Training and then to NAS Norman Air Station in Oklahoma for the Initial Flight Training which he successfully completed with high scores. His next transfer sent him to NAS Corpus Christi Air Station in Texas, for Basic Flight Training, which he completed in December 1943. In a glorious ...

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Greek Version


Samaras 1
USN, SB2C-4E BuNo 19767, VB-83, USS Essex, May-July 1945

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