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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 home on Hope Street. The two brother’s homes were about 100 yards apart and only two blocks from the sponge docks. Lazaros Kavouklis as the oldest brother stayed in port almost all the time and operated the coffee shop and looked out for other business interests of the brothers. Nicholas was primarily responsible for the operation of the boats. The Kavouklis coffee shop was built in 1908 and was bought by the Kavouklis brothers in 1913. The first two boats that the Kavouklis brothers owned were schooners that were used as supply boats mainly. One of the boats was named the Fleetwood. The name of the other was Columbia. The Kavouklis brothers also bought two sponge fishing boats. One was called the Egeo and the Mary Kay. The sponge boat known as the Mary Kay was sold in 1951, several years after Lazaros ' death. The Egeo sank in 1948 which was the same year that Nicholas died. Olga Kavouklis was a charter member of the Greek Church-affiliated organization known as the Philloftohous. She was the dominating figure in raising money for that organization. Lazaros and Olga's home was a mecca for people coming to that part of Tarpon Springs. The couple were very supportive of the Greek Orthodox Church in Tarpon Springs and were active in the Sponge Exchange. Lazaros died at age 62 and Nicholas died at age 54. Olga Moustastos Kavouklis, Lazaros' wife died in 1946. The family inherited the Hellenic ideas and consciousness from its members.

Nick was a 1971 graduate of Thomasville High School and a 1976 graduate of the University of Georgia. His father, Nicketas was a Veteran of WWII (United States Coast Guard) proudly serving his country. Probably having as a raw model his father, Nick joined the US Navy and trained as a naval aviator. He graduated as Ensign and after training as a Radar Intercept Officer he joined the mighty F-14 Tomcat community with the callsign “GREEK” denoting his pride in his heritage. He served from 1976 to 1983 flying with the VF-32 Swordsmen and deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in the Mediterranean Cruise during 1980-81. From 1984 to 1989 was an active reservist flying with the VF-201 Hunters reserve squadron, flying from Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, and held the rank of Lt. Commander (USN). According to Charlie Kottmeier:

"He was a  competent aviator. A favorite memory was Nick making a take-off from MacDill AFB transitioning to a vertical climb to level at 40,000 feet on his way back to his home base." 

After retirement, he was teaching flight classes in the Plano area, however according to his family he suffered terribly for the last years of his life with degenerative neck injuries exacerbated by his duty as a naval aviator in F-14s. Unfortunately, Nick passed away on July 4, 2001. He was married to Lillian Cheri Starnes (27 Aug 1978) and had two children Nicholas and Alexander Kavouklis. He is buried at NAS Pensacola cemetery.

A VF-201 'Hunters' Reserve Squadron F-14A fires an AIM-7 Sparrow on a target drone. (USN)
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Nick Kavouklis proudly poses for the VF-201 yearbook wearing the tag with his nickname 'GREEK', honoring his heritage in the best possible way, like many Greek Americans did, especially during WW2. (Cheri Starnes Jackson)
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The 'GREEK' as a young Naval Flight Officer possibly after graduating and promoted to Ensign. (Cheri Starnes Jackson)
This F-14A, Modex 206 is one of the Tomcats of VF-32 onboard JFK during the Mediterranean Cruise in 1980-1981, and most probably one of those Nick Kavouklis flew with his pilot. The F-14A's biggest disadvantage was its underpowered engines. The performance of the TF30 engine became an object of criticism. John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy in the 1980s, told the U.S. Congress that the TF30/F-14 combination was "probably the worst engine/airframe mismatch we have had in years" and that the TF30 was "a terrible engine". 28% of all F-14 accidents were attributed to the engine. A high frequency of turbine blade failures led to the reinforcement of the entire engine bay to limit damage from such failures. The engines also had proved to be extremely prone to compressor stalls, which could easily result in loss of control, severe yaw oscillations, and could lead to an unrecoverable flat spin. At specific altitudes, the exhaust produced by missile launches could cause an engine compressor stall. This led to the development of a bleed system that temporarily blocks the frontal intake ramp and reduces engine power during missile launch. With the TF30, the F-14's overall thrust-to-weight ratio at maximum takeoff weight is around 0.56, considerably less than the F-15A's ratio of 0.85; when fitted with the General Electric F110 engine, an improved thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.73 at maximum weight and 0.88 at normal takeoff weight was achieved. Despite having large differences in thrust, the F-14A, F-14B, and later F-14D with the newer General Electric F110 engines were rated at the same top speed. Note: Because of the absence of BuNo for Modex 206 we use another BuNo from another Tomcat onboard the JFK. Other than that the profile is accurate. (Copyright Tom Cooper further info by Wikipedia )
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F-14A Tomcat, BuNo 160913, modex AB206, VF-32 'Swordsmen.' 
(LT(JG) Jeff Edwards, via Bob Canchola via
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F-14A Tomcat, VF-32 "Swordsmen".
(LT(JG) Jeff Edwards, via Bob Canchola via
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Launching F-14A Tomcat, VF-32 "Swordsmen".
(LT(JG) Jeff Edwards, via Bob Canchola via
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The final resting place for the Greek American Naval Aviator, Nick Kavouklis at NAS Pensacola Cemetery. His love for the F-14 is obvious either in his gravestone... "TOMCATS FOREVER". (Michael Kavouklis)



1. Dimitrios Vassilopoulos correspondence with Cheri Starnes Jackson (former wife of Nick Kavouklis) and Michael Kavouklis (brother of Nick)
2. USS John Kennedy Cruise Book 1980-1981

Top Picture credits by Paramount Pictures movie TOP GUN (1986) directed by Tony Scott Written by
Jim Cash & Jack Epps Jr., Based on "Top Guns" by Ehud Yonay, Produced by Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer and StarringTom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Tom Skerritt.