Greeks In Foreign Cockpits
The writers led by Dimitrios Vassilopoulos, who started this publishing effort seven years ago, have managed to reveal a unique "pantheon" of heroes of the Greek Diaspora who fought in World War II. Greek heritage pilots flew to all Operational Theaters with the allied air forces and in the third volume of the series, "GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS" they reveal those men who flew from the US Navy carriers. The new element in this phase of the research is that it presents the portraits also the careers of the dive bomber and heavy bomber pilots except for the fighter pilots. The depth of the research is really impressive, which highlights the unique character of this work. This is something you realize when you get to the point where the writers contacted a Japanese researcher in order to reveal who was the Japanese aviator who flew the Zeke which was confronted by Sabe Legatos with his Hellcat during his fatal mission. Touching details from their family stories in which these young people grew up, their careers, their successes, and their failures, are followed by a rapid change in the reader's mind as he reads one page after another.
However, the authors themselves will certainly feel several times a great emotional burden during their research while communicating with relatives or descendants of veterans. When confronted with people eager to share memories of their loved ones, especially the fallen, they realized the magnitude of the blow and the cessation of time in the lives of those who lived through the hardships of the bad news someone bring to them. People who, given the general social conditions of the time, never turned their back to their misfortune, but, fortunately, preserved with sacred love what was left of the fallen, to share it now after so many decades with the authors, a material that uniquely enriched the current volume of this amazing series. This material was combined, as always, in a masterful way by the authors, with the official archival material revealed by the research from the war diaries and reports of their Squadrons and Wings, through which the Greeks of America acted. It is therefore very interesting and impressive, the way in which air battles or attacks against ships and other targets are literally revived through the pages of the volume, while the recording of statistics in the extensive appendices, gives a good look at those pilots service and career.
From the Cypriot Panicos Theodosiou who fought in North Africa and Italy, operating together with the Greek Squadrons, the famous Jim Verinis, the first heavy bomber pilot to complete 25 missions over Europe and the co-pilot of Memphis Belle, Paul Bacalis a Japanese Navy ship-killer with radar-equipped B-24s on China front, Christos Mikronis who took part and shot down in his Wildcat during Operation Torch and US Navy almost ace, Sabe Legatos, who excelled with both Grumman fighters to the USS Yorktown reconnaissance pilot with Hellcat F6F-3P, Michael Alexatos, Frank Sarris of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, also flying with Hellcat, the Navy Cross holder Thomas Samaras, for the direct hit he achieved to the battleship Yamato flying the fearsome Helldiver and the almost ace James Sakellariades flying the mighty Corsair, who flew with Samaras from the USS Essex, the authors promise you an exciting experience of a time journey through history, nevertheless the dark side of it. A journey of acquaintance with the heroes we never learned, heroes who brought back the light of freedom in our world. The third volume is prefaced by two younger Greeks of the Diaspora, the retired Cdr. Demetries A. Grimes and Cdr. Christopher Papaioannou, commander of the famous Top Gun School. With their writings, they confirm that they also grew up having affected by Greek Mythology and History, as is the case with children of a common Greek family, an element of which they are proud. This is mentioned, in order to understand that the Greek heroes of the Diaspora who fought in World War II, children who belonged to families of the first Greek immigrants to the USA, had a much closer "contact" with their ancestral homeland. And it was something very special for them when their luck brought them to fight in Europe and especially on the fronts closest to Greece.
Perhaps at some point, it should be considered whether the Greek State should honor these Worldwide Greeks who fought in World War II with the other allied powers. Probably with the erection of a monument in their honor, similar to the monument in the Grove of the Greek Army for the Greek-American commandos who fought with the OSS in occupied Greece in the period 1944-1945. Perhaps a good opportunity would be on the 80th anniversary of the end of World War II. Until then, let us wait for the writers of the series to reveal to us many other unknown compatriots who fought, honored their family name and ancestral homeland, with some of them "taking the Death kiss in their planes", like countless other pilots.
You can read the original review (in Greek) at the following link: https://doureios.com/ellines-se-xena-cockpit-g-tomos/