Pisanos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"I had a dream of coming to America to learn to fly because I couldn’t enter SXOLI IKARON of Royal Hellenic Air Force (RHAF) in Greece. Not only did I learn how to fly, but little did I know I would succeed beyond my wildest dreams. A young Greek ace flying for RAF and USAAF, battling the Luftwaffe on air and Wehrmacht on the ground. If I succeed getting to RHAF it would be the same story with other terms. Fighting Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe in the air as well as Italian and German Armies as a guerilla in Greek mountains. I became an American citizen while fighting in ETO and was able to serve my adopted country in three wars over 30 years. I returned to Greece and helped the Hellenic Air Force to become a modern air arm equipped with the best airplane to date, the F-4E Phantom II. Only in America, a Greek boy could achieve what I did for both Greece and United States. I am proud to be a Greek and American."
Vrilakas Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"Dimitrios Vassilopoulos story personifies a certain kinsmanship that exists wherever Greeks may be in the world. History has given those of us, fortunate enough to be of Hellenic heritage, good reason to have a special pride and interest in each other’s accomplishments. He has very kindly included my experiences as a fighter pilot in the Mediterranean Theatre during WW II. In retrospect, I am glad that destiny took me to that theatre of the war because I felt more connected to happenings in that area and more directly involved in helping those of that region to regain their freedom. I am very honored that Mr. Vassilopoulos has made a record of some of my happenings during that time in history. His painstaking depth of research is quite amazing. Even to the point of identifying a leading Luftwaffe ace that I shot at. My one and only mission over Athens caused considerable anxiety because I knew some of my relatives lived there. The target, however, did not appear to be one where human casualties would be a factor so that eased my mind, and hopefully, it brought the war another step closer to its end. WWII was very much a war in which Europe and the Baltics had to be saved from dominance by a ruthless regime. I sincerely hope that peaceful conditions remain and that such a conflict will never be necessary again."
"Dimitris your book arrived yesterday and I am very very much impressed with it. It is very professionally put together and a beautiful, interesting book. I hope that in the future you can also publish it in English as it should be popular here and in England. Unfortunately, I cannot read Greek, but I know the book is the result of a lot of effort on your part and that it will be most beneficial to present and future historians. I know your book represents a lot of hard work and research and can appreciate the effort you put into making it a success."
Manos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.B
"Hello Dimitrios, Words can’t express how thankful we are for the wonderful gift you have given my sister & I, our children, our granddaughter and the generations that are to come. This book is indeed a keepsake, a treasure, and will always be a part of our family. We truly had no idea how much detail you would touch on our father, William Stanley Manos Sr. 406th Fighter Pilot when you first contacted us stating that you were interested in adding and writing a chapter about him. All we knew was the book was to be about World War II, Fighter Pilots of Greek Descent. We were honored to have been asked, and quite honestly kept our excitement minimal, and kept a “let's wait and see mentality,” as we expected it to be a small mention. We waited with anticipation, upon receipt, we were speechless; WOW, what a BOOK, what a BEAUTIFUL and WONDERFUL BOOK!!!
Dimitrios, you have discovered so many things about our father that we did not know about, and for that, we are extremely thankful. What’s also exciting is that people that have read the chapter on our father have contacted us to ask questions about finding his wrecked P-47 Thunderbolt. We couldn’t be more excited to see what comes from this. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU, Dimitrios for all your hard work and dedication you have poured into this book, it means so much not just to our family, but so many others.
We wish you the best in all your future endeavors and discoveries.
Best, William Stanley Manos Jr. (64) (Son of William Stanley Manos Sr.); Cathy Sue Manos (63) (Spouse)
(Son)William Stanley Manos III. (39); Brandi Marie Manos (37) (Spouse); Brooklyn Alexandria Manos (1) (Grand Daughter); (Daughter) Ashley Marie Davlin (33); Jared Davlin (35) (Spouse)
Debra Ann Manos (65) (Daughter of William Stanley Manos Sr.)
(Son) Nickolas George Manos (36)
"My Grandfather William D Manos, born January 1, 1889 (dad’s father) came from Roeno Greece to the United States through Ellis Island in 1918. Changing our name from 'Manolis' to 'Manos', grandpa so wanted to be an American. He was a member of the Order of AHEPA (Advancing the Ideas of Ancient Greece through a History of Service to People Around the World). His older brother 'Nick' arrived in the United States several years before him (Nick was a gambler and a tough guy). My grandfather operated a soup kitchen in downtown Portland, Oregon and became a Democratic voter July 31, 1941. My father William Stanley Manos at age 7 or 8 would sell newspapers in downtown Portland, then go to school and after school deliver soup to homes, brothels and gambling houses. He soon finished High School and worked at Iron Fireman MFG, Company driving a forklift and then a truck. He also was a member of the National Guard. He decided to join the Army Air Corp, he passed his physical and the aptitude testing then was shipped to Santa Ana, California for basic training and then on to Ontario, California, then to Merced, California for flight school. He then went back to Portland for a brief furlough before taking the train (City of Roses) to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for advanced fighter training (important later in Bio). It was here the whole class of fighter pilots first saw the P-47’s and they knew they were going to Europe. None of the pilots wanted to go to the Pacific because of the stories heard about the Japanese treating American Prisoners.
My sister and I were born in San Diego, California. At this time my father worked for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, working with Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. numerous times. Our poor mother (Leonor Cleta) had to raise us. Although we spent very little time with him, due to his working 6-7 days per week. When he did have time, he taught us how to ride a bike and play sports. Dad was excellent in any sports whether it was golf, bowling, archery, shooting, ping pong, Skiing, tennis, etc. Just a gifted athlete and he loved to fly airplane’s Cessna’s & Bonanza’s (small four-seat, single engine). My Grandfather lived in downtown San Francisco during the 1960’s. We would drive a car or dad would fly us in a private plane up to see him. Grandpa would tell us stories about Greece while he sipped a shot of Jim Beam whiskey. Through our teenage years, we grew apart. But when I was 19 years old in 1973 he offered me a job in his Human Relations Company, which he had started the year before. My wife Cathy (our Chief Financial Officer) and I spent the rest of his life, seeing him and our mother (who also worked at the family business) almost every day. My son William S. Manos, III started taking over the business in 2000 after he left University of Southern California, he and his wife work there today. I remember playing golf as my father’s guest at his country club and quite a few of his members were pilots in World War II. There were three B-17 pilots, two B-24 pilots and a couple of P-51 pilots. It was a thrill to hear their stories! Mom & Dad had four grandchildren; William Stanley Manos III, Nicholas George Manos, Ashley Marie Manos and Ryan Manos. The Grandparents were kind, gentle, understanding and strict! They took each one of the grandchildren on a separate trip of their choice to Europe for three weeks. What an experience, the kids adored their grandparents.
When my mother passed away in 2008 my father had me grab four boxes out of the attic. Wow! What a find. His WWII information. His fighter gloves, helmet, goggles, medals, log book and most important… his little red address book. Listing his acquaintances from WWII. Not only many other pilots (many have K.I.A. (killed in action) next to their names, but also the American and British nurses and of course the French Madam Mosel’s. All this before he met my mother in 1949, well after the war. We all loved 'Dad' and as it says at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA on his Red Brick:
Captain William S. Manos
Location # ND 21,30
If you are ever in New Orleans, Louisiana, look him up!"
William S. Manos Jr.
Savides Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"Philip Savides, my father, fell in love with flying while in college in the early 1940s at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. While a college student, he earned his private pilot’s license. A favorite family story is that Phil’s first passenger was his father, Youvan Savides. The story goes that Youvan traveled from Racine, Wisconsin to Waukesha to attend the funeral of Phil’s landlady. Following the funeral, Phil and his sister, Helen, also a Carroll College student, just about dragged their father to the airport in Waukesha and loaded him in a Piper Cub so that Phil could fly him back home to Racine. It was Youvan’s first flight in an airplane. When Youvan arrived safely back at his house in Racine, my grandmother, Ethel Savides, said he was “white and shaken», but my father was beaming with delight that his father was his first passenger. My father interrupted his college career to join the Army Air Corps in 1943. By 1944, he was flying missions in Europe as a pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt. My grandmother wrote an autobiography in 1944 while three of her four sons, including my father, were in the military. Below is an excerpt from her autobiography that she wrote about my father: "He looked handsome in his uniform and as this is written, he flies… in France. The battles these days are terrible beyond any imagining. We can only endure the suspense because we believe we are fighting for the welfare of humanity and it must be done before peace can come. If he returns to us unharmed, we will feel very grateful and unworthy and may some clearer vision and holier ideals are found in youth coming up to prevent such a holocaust ever again." My father flew 101 World War II missions and received numerous honors including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation. He returned home safely from the war, but like many other soldiers, not entirely whole. It would take him years to recover from the stresses and traumas of his military service. In fact, he chose never again to pilot an airplane. He did take up sailing and iceboating, which I believe served to replace flying for him. The adjacent picture is of my father "flying" at a high rate of speed across a frozen Lake Winnebago in an iceboat that he built. Over the years he stayed in touch with his friends from his years in the Army Air Corps. Those connections were a real source of enjoyment for my father. In 1970, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where my parents lived. My dad very much enjoyed attending the EAA’s annual convention and air shows. In spite of the fact that he no longer flew, the EAA also helped him stay connected with aviation and helped him meet people from all over the world that were linked to flying."
"Dimitris, your book honoring WWII pilots of Greek parentage arrived last weekend. Thank you very much! (Ευχαριστώ!) I am very impressed with how everything turned out. The reproduction of the pictures turned out very well, the artwork is spectacular, and the extensive research that was conducted on these 10 great pilots and their squadrons is obvious. Please extend my congratulations to your entire team that worked so hard to get this book produced. I hope someday you are able to produce a version of the book that is in English, as I'm sure there would be many interested readers in the US, England and other English speaking countries. How I wish that my father (Philip Savides) were alive today to see your work. He would be extremely proud to be included in your book! Thanks again!"
"Thank you again, Dimitris Vassilopoulos for all of your hard work to complete this wonderful book! I know that you and your team worked very hard and were very thorough with this project."
Manthos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"Hello, Dimitrios. I wanted to thank for the book. Even though I don’t read any Greek it’s obvious what a beautiful job you have done! I’m very happy you have finally been rewarded for all that time, effort, and no doubt expense. My brother and I are both proud and pleased to see our father honored along with the other capable and courageous pilots you have chosen for your collection. Your request for information back in 2011 led me on long and occasionally frustrating research investigation into my father’s history and that of the 357th FG in general, not to mention countless hours scanning, identifying and editing photographs into something suitable for display and publication. It was a challenge I would never have undertaken without your inquiry. I also want to thank you for that. I uncovered a wealth of information about my father that otherwise, I would never have known, things that now my children and their children will know as well. My father did not achieve the kind of notoriety typically necessary for public attention. He had no confirmed victories and was not decorated beyond the routine medals awarded to all pilots. His greater contribution to the allied war effort was in training a generation of young men to operate combat aircraft, and once in Europe, in his role shaping strategy and tactics in Operations. You have made that contribution a matter of public record for anyone interested to see and appreciate. None of this Dimitrios, none of this would have happened if not for you. If not for you I never would have known half the things I now know about my own father. If not for you, none of those spectacular graphic images of Mary Alice I and II would exist. If not for you, those slides would have remained in their steel trays, perhaps until they disintegrated completely many years from now. Thank you for all of that Dimitrios, thank you from the bottom of my heart."
"O Atlee George Manthos was a complex man who accomplished what he set out to do, whether to be a fighter pilot or a rancher in Wyoming. He came from poor and humble roots, his father an immigrant from Kalavryta, Greece. Flying meant everything to my father. His command of flight techniques was recognized early in his career and he was made an instructor pilot before he deployed to England in 1944. He flew many aircraft over his 22-year career as a pilot, from the open cockpit, piston-engined aircraft to modem jets. After his death in 1980, his ashes were scattered over the mountains he loved, from a plane piloted by a squadronmate and life-long friend of his from WWII."
Karavedas Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"I have an appreciation for all of your time and money and hard work that you devoted to honor our family members and continue to give them life when no longer here with us. Our future family generation will also benefit by knowing my father through your work. I am very grateful to you."
Susan Karavedas Wiendczak
"Thank you so much, Dimitris, for posting this...I finally got to see your book & speaking (or typing rather!) on behalf of my family you did an incredible job!!! Its an honor to know u as well & thank u again for keeping my Grandfather's memory & amazing story alive."
"I knew Spiros Karavedas as a friend and mentor. We renewed our families’ relationship in the early 1960s while I was working as a Danvers police officer. The amazing thing about «Spike» as I got to know him was his innate ability to calm situations when they reached the boiling point. I believe I know now how he achieved that temperament. In the early 1940s when the U.S. was attacked by the Imperial government of Japan, Spike joined the Army Air Corps. He flew 108 combat missions, providing air support for the soldiers who were on the ground fighting an entrenched enemy. He strafed and bombed land targets, ships, enemy ground positions, railway stations and moving trains carrying supplies to be used against our soldiers. These soldiers were island-hopping through the Philippine Islands, and he flew at the enemy, dodging their intense firepower. He lost several of his wingmen during these missions but never forgot them. When Spike returned to the North Shore area, he became a member of the Massachusetts National Guard and flew F-86 jet fighters until he resigned his commission as captain. He even wrote a column about flying for The Salem News. In the 1940s, there was a mystery pilot who would fly his P-47 plane over Walnut Street in Peabody. It was alleged that Spike was the mystery pilot and waggled his wings so his mother knew it was him. With his history of flying in combat facing the terrible odds of enemy ground fire, Spike came to the realization that life and the relationships that are developed are what really matter and the rest may not be so important. I feel that he faced death so many times that he realized that living life was really all that mattered. He grew up in Peabody, went off to war, returned home and started a business called "Spartan Realty" that was located in Peabody and Danvers. Over the years, he was very active in the community. He married his sweetheart, Carol, and they had two daughters who graduated from Danvers High School. He has one surviving sister and numerous grandchildren. Spike was a member of the Greatest Generation. He was awarded three bronze stars, six oak-leaf clusters, the Army Air Corps medal and other service ribbons for the theaters of the war he fought in. He was attached to the 310th Fighter Squadron of the 5th Army Air Corps. Spiros Karavedas passed into eternity on March 25 after a short illness. He will be sorely missed by his family and by me. I could not let today go by without telling someone this story of a remarkable man who loved his wife, his children, his siblings, his grandchildren and me. I know that his family will put in an appropriate obituary, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story of the man I knew."
"After a tumultuous career at home as a pilot replacement training outfit, during which it lost two successive air echelons to North Africa and Alaska, the 58th Fighter Group arrived in Australia on November 19, 1943, and the following February went into action from Dobodura, New Guinea and then moved to Saidor, New Guinea. The 58th was utilized as a fighter-bomber group throughout its participation in the Pacific War and chose to fly P-47s consistently due to the ruggedness of the Republic fighter and its massive firepower and load carrying ability. It perfected its glide bombing techniques in New Guinea and then the Moluccas before moving to the Philippines in late 1944. It is best remembered for its daring midnight strafing attack on a Japanese naval task force on the night of 26 of December 1944. However, despite its preoccupation with close air support it did manage to accumulate twelve aerial combat victories to its credit by war’s end. Spiros Karavedas was one of those men who gallantly fought with 58th Fighter Group and put his own mark in the victory to the Pacific Theater of Operations."
Lolos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"It was a little shocking to see an inquiry for anyone who knew of John S. Lolos, P-47 pilot on a website I was just browsing through. I answered the gentleman posting the question…that John S. Lolos was my Dad! Αbout one year later the same type of inquiry was posted again, by Dimitriοs Vassilopoulos, also from Greece. I told George about Dimitrios and furnished the contact information to him. They have now become co-authors!!!! It has been my great pleasure in helping George Chalkiadopoulos and Dimitrios Vassilopoulos gather information about my father for their book on Greek-American’s who took part in W.W.II. It has also been a wonderful experience for me to research through my father’s papers and photos and to put them in order at last! I am looking forward to the publication of the book as I want to be the first one to purchase it. The internet is an incredible tool that has allowed George and Dimitrios and myself to exchange information and become friends, something that could not have happened even ten years ago. Thank you, George!"
Joanne Lolos Zimakas
Lambros Family Commentary inside and for Vol.B
"Dad’s career in the Canadian air force spanned some of the most historic events of the twentieth century. An examination of his career path from early training days until he retired in 1964 shows clearly his aptitude and passion for flying were far above average. Several incidents in his life of flying gave proof to those aptitudes and perhaps the stuff of Hollywood drama. On his first 'solo' cross-country flight in a small Fleet Finch biplane, he was forced by bad weather to force land in a farmers field – no damage to the aircraft whatsoever. Prior to going overseas and barely out of flight school, he was tasked with instructing other students. On one flight their Yale trainer was hit from below and behind in midair by another aircraft. His student, paralyzed with fear, refused to abandon the aircraft. With elevator and aileron cables cut and using only trim controls and throttle adjustments, he was able to get the plane almost onto the ground before a wing dipped and it cartwheeled. Both occupants survived. Subsequent investigation revealed that the propeller of the other aircraft had also sliced into Dads parachute which he was sitting on – and he would certainly have died if he had abandoned the aircraft which he would have done if the student had exited. Overseas he was selected for assignment to low-level recce duties in P-51 Mustangs. Nav and flying skills were extreme as was the danger for the elite pilots selected for this role. On one mission out of England over occupied France his aircraft -at high speed and low level -was flipped upside down by a flak explosion under his wing. His wingman thought he had hit the ground and back at base declared him lost. He recovered however and joined them for a beer at the mess tent where they were toasting their comrade who they thought was dead. On a mission, after D Day he turned his Mustang back into heavy flak curious as to why he was suddenly under such heavy fire. Spotting vehicles he made several low passes taking pictures and avoiding furious a.a. fire. The photos revealed an entire Panzer division, hidden in the trees. A whole squadron of Typhoons was dispatched and the regiment was attacked all afternoon. It was completely wiped out. How many allied soldiers would have lost their lives fighting those Panzers? Postwar on mark six Canadair F-86 Sabres, in cold war Europe- Canada’s air force was NATO’s best. On one trip he lost his engine (oil pump failure) about fifty miles from base in Europe with about twenty thousand feet of cloud below him. He navigated back to Marville base. He maintained electrical power because the engine was windmilling, powering the generator. He was advised to eject due to low cloud over the base. He decided against this as the area below was populated. In the days before ILS and long before GPS assisted navigation, he homed using radio beacons and broke cloud lined up almost over the button, high and hot, now too low to eject, dropped his gear and got his Sabre stopped safely on the runway. Extremely exceptional airmanship in a hair-raising dangerous situation. His devotion to his life as a pilot -and what we now recognise as PTSD - took a toll on our family life in the years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, but he settled down many years later and became a loving husband and father and an exceptional immigration officer –assisting many new Greek immigrants to settle in Canada."
Peter & Zoe Lambros
"A lot has been documented about my father’s military life. I’d like to express a few thoughts about life with my father on another level –a more personal one. My personal memories of our parents and family life are positive ones and illicit much joy. The fact that our parents decided to raise two more children several years after their first two, speaks volumes about their growing love and respect for one another. I have three siblings that I care deeply about, two older siblings –a sister, Zoe, born in 1945 and a brother, Peter, born in 1947. My younger sister, Annette and I were born in 1955 and 1959. My first vivid memories of family life (and of my father) were from the later 1950`s while living with the family on the air force base in Marville, France … but perhaps even earlier. I remember sitting in a high chair and dad was feeding me diced fruit (the kind from a can). There were probably diced peaches and pears but they were really stingy with the cherries. In my bowl, there was one cherry that I was looking forward to. I looked away and when I looked back, it was gone. I asked dad "Where’s cherry?" He said, "Beaver ate it!". (My toy beaver which was sitting with me had a little red circle painted on the inside of his open mouth.) Good try dad! Hope you enjoyed the fruit! After Marville, we moved back to Canada (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), then to Trenton, Ontario where we all lived on the air force base during dad’s last year in the military. That was 1964, the same year that my older sister Zoe, finished high school and moved to Toronto to attend nursing school. Two years later, my brother Pete, finished high school and left for University. Upon dad’s retirement from the military in 1964, our family lived briefly in Oshawa and then in 1966, we settled in Toronto, Ontario where dad worked for "Man Power and Immigration", assisting new immigrants with their move to Canada. I lived in Toronto with mum and dad and my younger sister until 1976, when I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to work as an R.N. Our parents finally became ‘empty-nesters’ a few years later, when their youngest child, Annette, finished high school and accepted a position as a ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada. In the early 1980’s, our parents bought a home in Kingston, Ontario, as mum received a job promotion, requiring the move there and dad was close to retirement. Dad had come full circle… Kingston was where he had spent his last year of high school and where he was living when he originally signed up for the military at the start of his career. When I headed back to University at Queen’s in Kingston, mum and dad were no longer ‘empty-nesters’ as they kindly welcomed my young son (Jack) and I back home while I completed the degrees. Mom and dad truly loved their years in Kingston. Dad’s brother Andy and his wife Peg, also living in Kingston, spent much time with mum and dad during their retirement years playing bridge and enjoying dinners together. Growing up, I had so many amazing memories –far too many to list!! Instead, I am going to quote a few lines from the eulogy that I wrote for dad when he passed away in 2004.
"Dad, I will always remember the love you had for your family –siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, your wife, children, their spouses and your grandchildren. I will never forget your warmth, kindness and non-judgemental nature. Thanks, dad, for being the best father I could have asked for. Thanks for so many wonderful memories: for help with math homework, for family trips for Sunday morning eggs and bacon, for hearing your voice in the morning saying "Wakey, wakey, rise and shine", for your GREAT sense of humor, for being a sounding board. And for being someone I could ALWAYS count on. I can’t thank you and mum enough for being such a positive and extremely important part of my son’s life as well! I will cherish forever, the unconditional love that you gave to me and I know that I was extremely fortunate to have had you in my life. You are the best!"
In closing, I’d like to add a few lines from a letter written to dad just a few days before he passed. The letter is written by John Haynes (my son Jack’s father) who resided in the United States. Dad was very ill with lung cancer and was unable to attend Jack’s University graduation. John attended the graduation ceremony and then wrote to dad about it and to give thanks to dad for all that he had done to help Jack over the years.
"I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of the love, kindness, and generosity you and Pat have shown Jack, especially in his formative years. Because of the distance that divided us, I was not able to be the father I wanted to be for Jack. You were the surrogate father on whom he could depend and from whom he learned; far beyond the usual role of a grandfather. Your values contributed greatly to molding his character. He too is kind, generous, compassionate, and has a wonderful sense of humor. I could not have picked a better role model if I’d tried. Both Jack and I are fortunate in that regard and for that, I will always be most grateful. Yours very truly, John".
Sadly, dad passed away a few days before the letter arrived by mail. He would have been truly touched."
Kim Haynes Lambros
"Young Ted wanted to fly. The Second World War gave him a chance he likely would not have had in peacetime. It gave him lifelong friends and it took them away. He loved flying so much that he lost the fight within himself to follow the safe career on the ground that might have meant a more secure living for his family when the chance came to re-enlist in the 1950s. I say “might” because in this world no career path leads to a guaranteed secure future. One has to be ready to adapt and Ted gave that ability to his family. The pull of flying was irresistible to Ted. As he himself told me, “I would hate to tell some of these friends of mine that I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t happy flying. I had ground problems, but once I was in the aircraft all that was forgotten. If you are going to fly, fly single engine.” He wanted to fly so badly that even trips in helicopters and four-engine transports were attractive, something few fighter pilots are willing to admit. Yet when the chance to fly came to nothing after his early retirement he pulled himself together and went on with his life. There are many ways to measure the success of a life. One way is to look at the children of a person to see if they have met with success in their lives and assume that the parent had an influence on that success. Another is to look for tangible signs of achievement in a military career. Decorations are some of those signs. Ted knows in his own mind that he did the job he needed to be done while he was in the air force. He could not win medals for shooting down enemy aircraft as the orders were for the reconnaissance pilots to bring home their intelligence and their photographs and not risk their lives and their aircraft. He was no Billy Bishop or Buzz Beurling meeting the enemy fighter pilot on equal terms. He could not defend his fellow pilots as their most frequent threat came, not from enemy aircraft, but anti-aircraft guns firing from the ground. In these circumstances is it difficult to risk your life to take a photograph in the way that a fighter pilot or bomber pilot can risk his to destroy a valuable target as Lieutenant Robert Gray did in the closing days of the war in the Pacific to win the Victoria Cross. It is hard to say after almost 60 years whether a specific event should have won for 'Dan' the Distinguished Flying Cross. 'Dan' certainly does not claim that the events of August 2 and 4, 1944 should have. In a very subtle way, his accomplishments have been acknowledged by his peers He and his Mustang photo reconnaissance aircraft have been painted twice by Michael Martchenko in scenes based on his Second World War experience. People in the know suggested him as a subject to Martchenko. The images have been offered for sale to enthusiasts in catalogs containing similar images of Canada’s aviation greats, like Billy Bishop. Ted thinks he is a pretty good company and happily accepts the compliment."
Kevin Shackleton (Canadian Military Author)
"Thank you, Dimitris, from all my siblings for your dedication and all your work in documenting the war efforts of our Greek ancestry fathers - they would be proud that they have not been forgotten. Also for the pleasure of your company tonight at the very excellent restaurant in downtown Athens!!"
Zavakos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A & Vol.B
"The monument at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio is dedicated to the memory of our uncle Frankie. Our Dad Harry Zavakos would take us there, me and my sisters, a lot of times. Frankie killed in the WWII several years before any of us were born. His death was the reason Dad joined in the Air Force. We are now blessed with pictures and stories from George Chalkiadopoulos, to complete sufficiently the historical legacy of Dear Frankie."
Nicki Zavakos Thornhill
"My dad, Harry George Zavakos, was born in December of 1920 in Dayton, Ohio. His parents, George K. & Constantina Zavakos, were both born in Greece, my Papou being from Petrina. He was the middle child---he had an older brother, Frank, and a younger sister, Mary, and they lived in a lovely neighborhood with lots of trees, it was close to downtown Dayton and near all of my Papou's businesses. My dad followed in his footsteps after the war and spent his life in the bowling alley & nightclub businesses. After his brother Frank was killed in England, he quit college and joined the Army to go fight for the world's freedom. He was commissioned and became a Lieutenant and quickly learned to fly the P-40 he did his training in New Jersey. He was sent to China where he was shot down in a fierce battle. He was MIA for about 2 weeks and was helped back to the Americans by the Chinese people. During that time his family had no idea if he was dead, or alive, or a prisoner of war. When he returned, he was somewhat of a local hero around here. After the War was over, he returned and worked with his dad at the nightclubs and bowling alleys. In March of 1947, as my Papou was returning home late at night from work, he was gunned down in front of his home. It was a very sensational crime in Dayton, one that shocked everyone. To this day, his murder is still unsolved. It left my Yia Yia a widow and my dad without his father at the age of 26 1/2 years old. Since he was the only man left in the family, it was his responsibility to carry on the family business and to take care of his mother. He did both very well. He doted on her and took her to Greece several times. Until she died on February 7, 1977, he cared for her like only a son could do. When she passed away, he told me that he "wished that she had lived forever". As it turned out, she almost did, because, on March 7, 1977, he was shot down at his house, the very same house his father was shot down at almost 30 years to the day. It is also still unsolved, just like my grandfather's murder. They are 2 of the most infamous unsolved murders in this area. And to think that this happened to both your father and grandfather is unfathomable. My parents met in around 1948, the year after his dad was killed. They married in August of 1949. Our parents divorced when I was about 5-6 years old and my dad lived the rest of his life with his mother; neither of my parents remarried. My dad lived about 1 1/2 miles or a 3-minute drive from us, his bowling alley, which by then was the only business he still owned, was about a 5-6 minute drive from our house and we practically lived there when we were growing up. We all worked there, starting when we were about 12 years old. We went there after school and worked and also worked on Saturdays and Sundays. It was fun growing up in a bowling alley---free bowling and pinball machines, free cokes and lots of good food! Some people might find it odd, but to us it was normal. As far as my dad goes, he had a great smile and since I was the baby of the family, I always thought I was kind of special to him. He was very athletic and always went to the YMCA and swam, played handball, ran, and hung out with the guys. He was also quite the gambler and drinker, too. He went to Las Vegas every chance he got and partied like there was no tomorrow. He also showed us the finer things in life---as children he always took us to the fanciest hotels and restaurants in town....we were eating filet mignon and shrimp cocktail when we were not even tall enough to reach the table! He taught us how to order for ourselves and how to fold the cloth napkins to look like a women's bra! He had a really good sense of humor & was as good to us as he knew how to be. Well, George, I hope this is the kind of thing you were looking for. It has been fun writing this.....it's been a long time since I've thought of some of these things. I can't thank you enough for doing this project. I feel like I have a friend for life in you. I hope I can come to Greece & meet you sometime, with Dimitris and Kyriakos, or that you can come here. I feel like I know you and really cherish you as a friend."
"Sending my ongoing 'THANK YOU'S' to you both... Dimitris Vassilopoulos & George Chalkiadopoulos...I am so grateful George Chalkiadopoulos, that we connected years ago...back then...the internet was fairly new to me & I was very skeptical when you were searching for information about my Dad Harry Zavakos & my Uncle Frank Zavakos (we always referred to him as Frankie). Actually, I was supposed to be his namesake because Mom & Dad thought they were having a 'boy'... surprise-surprise...so they named me Francine instead!!! And another huge 'THANK YOU' to my husband Tom Gibbons for putting together all the letters and information from my Dad's & Uncle Frankie's memorabilia provided to you. Cherished memories!"
Francine Zavakos Gibbons
"Thank you!!! Thank you for memorializing the bravery, courage, and sacrifices of our Dad and Uncle. You have brought it to the forefront and we have, because of your endeavors and efforts, looked up pictures, articles, letters and more, now passing those stories and history to our children. We have dug up medals, army uniforms, and other memories out of your effort to write a book about Greek American pilots. For that, we thank you, forever grateful, The Zavakos family."
Nicki Zavakos Thornhill
"We are honored for the book. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!"
Plagis Family Commentary inside and for Vol.B
"It's been a long wait but totally worth it. Upon receiving the copy of the book I am almost at a loss as to what to say to the author's of this beautifully crafted, loving and respectful tribute to the great men who fought so hard for freedom during the second world war. Gents....the article about my father John Plagis is truly astounding, informative & so well put together that even saying thank you would seem inadequate. You are all true craftsmen when it comes to respectfully keeping the memory of our hero's alive. My deepest gratitude to your dedication and hard work researching accurate information. On behalf of my father - I thank you endlessly that we are able to remember his bravery, courage, sense of humour and the enviable ability to believe that nothing is impossible. The fabulous illustrations, detail, research that have gone into the chapter regarding him pays respect to his memory. He would be so proud of you all as am I. This book is a truly magnificent masterpiece that honours our brave Greeks pilots during the second world war. Because of all of you, the memory of these astounding men will be remembered always. Would like to also extend a special thank you to Mike Whittaker for the endless hours and his endearing love, passion & respect as a historian. Without you Mike - I would have had to carry over 20kgs of information over to Greece. You lightened my load considerably in more ways than I can define! You are all heroes - well done gentlemen !! All the very best to you & your family always."
"Dimitris Vassilopoulos, through his passion and persistence managed to find me on social media, in order to obtain information about my father – John Agorastos Plagis – a World War 2 RAF Pilot, who flew as a Greek citizen.Our journey began slowly and I had in my possession an old blue suitcase full of photos, letters, documents and so much information on my father and his life at the time. Night after night I sat sorting through all that was at hand only to discover more about my father that I had thought possible. Was he perfect? Not at all, but was he a man and a great pilot with so many accomplishments to his name - indeed he was! He had an Avenue named after him whilst he was still alive in what was then Rhodesia, and I understand that this has not changed. We lived in John Plagis Avenue as a family when I was young. The journey has been cathartic, funny, sad, memorable and honestly, one of the best experiences of my life. My father was not only a war hero but a hero to so many people on a personal level. He was the father of 4 children. He always loved to have his friends & family around him, especially for a Sunday lunch. He had a love for animals, loved to laugh and debate and most of all – would always reach out and help anyone in need. Although he has gone, his spirit and memory will live forever thanks to the remarkable men who have dedicated so much energy and respect to ensuring that history is preserved. Dimitris, Kiriakos, George & George. A finer group of gentlemen I have yet to come across! Meeting all of these men have been an honor for me and thank you all for your love of history and the ability to make it come to life all over again with such dignity and grace....lest we ever forget the great men who came before us. In loving memory of my Dad – John Agorastos Plagis (Johnny or Jay as he was known to all who were close to him & loved him) A true Greek Hero!"
"John Plagis grew up in Gadzema, Rhodesia, in the company of five Plagis siblings from his mother’s first marriage. He formed a very special and long-lasting bond with one of his sisters, Katerina, whom he affectionately called KAY and she referred to him as JAY. After their parents’ divorce, John’s mother married a kind, hardworking, warm-hearted Cypriot, with whom she had another four daughters in Gadzema. Despite having 6 sisters, Kay remained his reliable favorite, not to mention that they both had extrovert personalities, enjoyed card games, socializing, and collectively attracted the like-minded company, due to their charm and intelligence. My earliest recollections of the love and respect shared by my uncle Jay, for his sister Kay, was when my father moved farms and during the transition period, we lived with Uncle Jay in his double-storey house in Eastlea, Harare. The hospitality he showed to friends and family endeared me to him as did his achievements in business, at golf and as a visionary property owner. He too became my hero. He would come down the stairs looking so handsome, in a dark suit and tie every morning, singing on the top of his voice and burst out laughing when he saw us waiting for our breakfast at the table. Such ‘joie de vivre’ was infectious and left us all in a good mood for the day. Without him, the house seemed empty and we longed for him to return from work.When we relocated to the farm Uncle Jay was a regular visitor and during visits to Harare, my mother visited her brother for lunch at John Plagis Bottle Store whenever she came to town for farm shopping. My youthful mind was influenced by these two family members and I so admired their affection and caring for one another in good times and bad. John Plagis was very generous to his family and Kay was given some precious jewelry from him, which was always engraved and treasured. They wrote to each other when he was living in England and they always enjoyed meaningful reunions upon his return. From Rhodesia where he trained as a pilot, he went on to serve in England, where he named his plane 'KAY'because he said if there was anyone in this world he could trust and rely upon, it was his sister. When he married Penelope (aka Penny), he dutifully removed KAY and replaced my mother’s name, with a copper British penny. He nearly lost his battle in a sortie, which made him realize he had made a mistake, so he had the penny removed and 'KAY' restored to the body of the Spitfire. He went on to be highly decorated and always said his sister Kay was with him whenever he was in trouble! Jay’s thoughtful ways knew no bounds where his sister Kay was concerned. He even brought back to Rhodesia, a piece of embossed Irish satin for Kay’s wedding dress which was made up in 1943. So beautiful is the fabric quality that I got married in the same dress 51 years later, as it seemed the most sentimental choice to make – a connection with an uncle I adored and my Mum! The enclosed picture is of Uncle Jay with his sister Kay in their aging years. John had been invited by the Hellenic Community in Harare to receive a medal from the Greek Government. It was a privileged occasion and my parents were very proud to have attended. Sadly, this may well have been the very last photograph taken of John Plagis. Perhaps fitting, that as usual the brother and sister were together for each other, as had been the pattern of their lives. Every Rhodesian was proud of John’s war-time achievements when he became the most highly decorated pilot to return to Rhodesia, and he was admired by one and all, not least his family."
"It looks fantastic! I could not be more proud of all of you and I know Dad is up there somewhere smiling down on you. Well done!!!"
Sintetos Family Commentary inside and for Vol.A
"My family and I spent a lot of time with my Uncle Nick during the late 1960’s through the 1980’s while I was growing up. Nick always had a few light‐hearted WWII stories to tell us, but he never really discussed any details related to his service mission or assignments. It wasn’t until I started researching my family history a few years ago that I began to grasp the extent of his involvement in WWII. It then wasn’t until George Chalkiadopoulos began researching and bringing together the many details of Nick’s career that the full significance of Nick’s war service came to light. Nick did more for his county in a few short years than many accomplish in a lifetime. I remember a time when I was about 11 or 12 years old. My brothers and I were flying a gas-‐ powered model P51 Mustang at the schoolyard when Nick, who was visiting with us for the holidays, walked over and tried to explain to us that he flew a real P51 in WWII. Being kids, we thought that he was just pulling our leg. We had no idea that he really was a fighter pilot during the war. Nick was just 19 years old when he left home and volunteered to join the RCAF. I often try to imagine this very young man hitchhiking from his comfortable hometown in the USA across the border to Canada with the intent of then traveling overseas to fight in a war in which his country was not yet officially involved. His actions show an amazing amount of bravery and a strong sense of duty! After his service in WWII Nick became an inventor and successful businessman. He raised two children and became a grandfather. He cherished his family and his friends. He loved smoking cigars while passing down stories to those around him. Nick was very proud of his Greek heritage, very proud to be an American and very proud to have been part of such an important group of American WWII volunteers. I am amazed at the adventure that he undertook at such a young age and all that he accomplished during his lifetime. I’d like to thank Dimitris Vassilopoulos, George Chalkiadopoulos and Kyriakos Paloulian for bringing Nick’s fighter pilot career and WWII service to print."
George Kouris Commentary for Vol.B
Alexander Sakes Commentary for Vol. C
"My father and I are immensely grateful to Mr.Vassilopoulos for his dedication to memorializing the heroism and sacrifice of my grandfather, Lt. Commander James C. Sakellariades, who (alongside nine other fellow Greek aviators featured in this collection) fought gallantly in defense of the United States and against the tyranny of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during the Second World War. Mr. Vassilopoulos's book is truly a labor of love and an absolute masterpiece that belongs in the home of any WWII historian or any descendent of Greek aviators of that era." - Alexander Sakes (Grandson of James Sakellariades)
Gary Kaiser Commentary for Vol. C
CAPT Michael Alexatos USN (Ret), aka “The Mad Greek”
"The Greatest Generation. There is no one that exemplified that term more than my Uncle Mike. Although he seldom spoke about his experiences in WWII my wife and I were privileged to have attended a number of his USS Yorktown Fighting One (VF-1) reunions during the nineteen eighties and nineties. It was only then we learned, what he had previously shared in conversation, was a mere fraction of what he and his fellow aviators experienced in times of war. He instilled core values of patriotism, honesty, and integrity. As a father figure, he was the epitome of family values. This magnificent book and its historical presentation will forever record the sacrifices Greek Americans made to the preservation of freedom in the world. Dimitris Vassilopoulos is to be commended for his tireless work in presenting this exceptional account of WWII."
Perry & Maria Bacalis Commentary for Vol. C
"Hi, Dimitrios. We recently received your book, Greeks in Foreign Cockpits. Thank you so much. What a beautiful presentation of the remarkable stories about these brave men. The book is extremely well researched with wonderful photographs displayed on high-quality paper. It is obvious that you and your researchers did an extensive job to produce this product. My father's chapter is over forty pages long and tells the compelling story of his service to America. Thanks also for taking a personal interest in his story by visiting some of his relatives there in Greece. It was a pleasure meeting you while we were in Athens in 2019. We will treasure this book and will share it with our friends and relatives.
Perry and Maria Bacalis