P-47 THUNDERBOLT PILOT

USAAF

63rd Fighter Squadron / 56th Fighter Group

 
Arthur_Sugas_Portrait_1
Lt. Arthur Sugas entering the cockpit of his Thunderbolt before another mission over occupied Europe with the 62nd FS, 56th FG. Arthur was a first generation Greek American, like Spiros Pisanos, emigrating from Greece while he was 8 years old! (Greeksinforeigncockpits via www.56thfightegroup.com)

Athanasios Sougas was born in Trikala on December 27, 1919 in Trikala Greece and emmigrated to America at a relatively old age, like Spiros Pisanos. On August 23, 1928 he left for the USA from the port of Piraeus, along with the his father Constantine, his mother Maria and her 10-year-old sister Stella and crossed the Atlantic. After a long journey of about twoweeks, they finally arrived in New York on 9 September, 1928 with the SS Edison. The family settled in Kalamazoo, Mitchigan were Costantine lived, because he had emmigrated 8 years earlier in order to work and be able to get his family also. Athanasios changed his name to Arthur and he was a very talented person who was passioned with aviation. After high school he went to Western Michigan College were he entered the CPTP (Civilian Pilot Training Program). When the war broke out he enlisted to the USAAF and he trained as a fighter pilot. He gained his wing and promoted to 2nd Lt (O-660213). Like Harry Coronios he was also posted to the 56th Fighter Group in Bradley field although he was attach to the 63rdFS. When the Group transferd overseas he flew missions over Europe, providing cover for the 8th AF heavy bombers.Arthur, ever the musician and a fan of the big hand music of the day, named his Thunderbolt, a P-47C-5RE, 41-6372, UN-S, 'Elmer's Time', after a popular Glenn Miller number. This is probably how he got the nickname 'Elmer.' He wrote to his sister that he "loved his plane as if it were a part of him". Arthur lost in his final mission of his tour of duty. Although he could fly a milkrun he choose to fly in the August 17, 1943 missions were the 8th Air Force attacked the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt and the Messerschmitt factories at Regensburg. Things went badly for the Americans who suffered heavy losses from the Luftwaffe fighters. 60 out of 376 bombers, 3 P-47s and 2 Spitfires were lost, mostly due to the Luftwaffe which threw into battle about everything she had, losing about 30 fighters herself. Arthur Sugas P-47 was possibly hit above Rullen in Voeren, by the German experten Hauptmann Joannes Naumann (he survived the war with 34 kils in the western front), of 6./JG 26. His arcraft came circling down, nearly missed the church tower and crashed into a field. Some say that he wanted to spare the church and village, according to others he was already deceased at that stage. He passed away at the age of 23 and was buried the next day at the General Cemetery at the Tongerseweg. After the liberation his remains were transferred to the American Cemetery at Margraten. In 1949 his parents had him reburied at Riverside Cemetery, in the city where he lived, Kalamazoo, in the state of Michigan.

Further details can be found on Volume A' of 'GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS'

The Greek American pilot Arthur Sugas was killed by JG 26 Experten Johannes Naumann on the 17th of August, 1943 while flying this P-47C-5-RE (serial 41-6372, coded UN-S) during his last mission before his return to the United States. This Thunderbolt wasn’t his personal plane, which was called "Elmer’s Tune", and unfortunately there are no photos of it. The aircraft’s serial and codes are unknown and so is the pilot who flew it. The only fact is the testimony of Aristos Spougios, another Greek American of Kalamazoo and friend of the Sugas family who remembers a 62nd FS pilot visiting Arthur’s house after the war. According to Spougios he confessed to his parents that he felt guilty for Arthur’s loss because that day Arthur was flying his plane, as his own plane was undergoing repairs in the hangar. (Copyright Gaetan Marie)