F-4C VIETNAM VETERAN PILOT
Maj. Patterakis was born on July 23, 1935, in Van Houten, New Mexico. He was the son of Gregory Patterakis from Crete and Eleni (Helen) Katsufrakis, also of Greek heritage, who had also two more children Grace Patterakis and Emmanuel Patterakis. At the age of six, his family moved to Modesto California where Patterakis finished the School in 1953. He enlisted to the USAF and served for 4 years in the Military Police before he applied for pilot and accepted. He went to the pilot training school in 1961 in Texas and later he became an instructor himself. His flying skills and his will to fly with the Air Force Demonstration Team, the famous Thunderbirds bear fruits when he had been selected to fly the No. 2 position as left-wing on the 1966-1967 team flying the F-100 Super Sabres, becoming the first Greek American who joined this elite aviation group. During 1967-68 he was trained in the mighty F-4 Phantom, in F-4 Replacement Training Unit, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. He later flew 315 combat missions (60 over the North) during the Vietnam War, flying F-4C Phantom II based at Cam Ranh Bay with the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was awarded several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. After his tour of duty in South East Asia, he returned to Nellis and attended F-4 Fighter Weapons Instructor Course and Wild Weasel Instructor Course before he became an F-4 air-to-air instructor and Wild Weasel instructor attached to the 414th Fighter Weapons Squadron. Between 1971-73 he served in F-4 Operational Test and Evaluation, 422nd Fighter Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB and the following year he was named staff officer, Fighter Requirements, Air Superiority, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, Va. During his service there he worked on the development of the F-15 Eagle and its introduction into the Air Force inventory. Maj. Patterakis commanded the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team based at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas from 1975 to 1977 flying the nimble T-38 Talon. He was notably the first Greek American Thunderbirds Leader he had also the distinction to be the commander during the Bicentennial anniversary flying a specially decorated Talon. His Air Force career includes seven years enlisted and 17 years as a pilot, flying more than 5,100 hours in the F-86, F-100, F-4C/E and T-38 aircraft
In 1978, he launched an unsuccessful bid for Congress. He was considered a promising Republican candidate when a northern San Joaquin Valley House seat opened up that year. Without any political experience, he took on Democrat Tony Coelho, a seasoned Capitol Hill staffer, and lost. He got the Greek community, which was traditionally Democratic, to vote for him, and he won Modesto. Maj. Patterakis ' military colleagues remembered him for his strong leadership. During 1980-83 he worked as a Program Director, in Advanced Programs of the Northrop Aircraft Division, Hawthorne, Calif. While there he visited Greece as Northrop's representative and engaged in F-20 Tigershark and F-18L programs. He later started his own local telephone company and worked for 10 years as a pilot for United Airlines until his retirement in 2001. The Pentagon lured Maj. Patterakis out of retirement shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. He and his wife, Vicki, left their Modesto home and moved to northern Virginia. He was named a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force, assigned to oversee programs intended to boost ethnic, gender and economic diversity in the military. Maj. Patterakis died May 9, 2006, of unknown causes while visiting Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and he left behind his wife, Vicki Frazier and his four children, Donna, Patti, Marc and Alicia.
Further details will be revealed on Volume D' of 'GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS'