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Leader of a secret squad in World War II makes sure his men finally get their due [bronze medals]
fortwayne.com ^ | Sat, Apr. 17, 2004 | ALLAN JOHNSON

Posted on 04/24/2004 12:16:48 PM PDT by Destro

Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2004

Leader of a secret squad in World War II makes sure his men finally get their due

BY ALLAN JOHNSON

Chicago Tribune

(KRT) - It was the summer of 1944. Chicago's John Giannaris and his detail of 22 men were staging sneak attacks and other covert operations against the Nazis in a rugged area of Greece.

Meanwhile, German troops were burning out villages in the area, and "there was a lot of barbarism," Giannaris said. "I saw mass graves. It was terrible."

When Giannaris got word the Nazis were again on the move against villagers, he decided "to inflict some damage. ..."

Few may know of the top-secret exploits of people like 83-year-old Giannaris, who at the time was on detached service as a lieutenant from the Army with the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II precursor of the CIA.

A new book reveals some of those missions, but former agents discussed them openly at Chicago's Pritzker Military Library recently.

As part of the program, Giannaris presented - 60 years after the fact - the Bronze Star to Chicagoan Hercules Sembrakis, 88, a native of Greece and one of the men he led on a fateful "mercy mission," according to Patrick O'Donnell, author of "Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of WWII's OSS."

"Instead of the dead of night, blowing things up, they saved people," O'Donnell said of Giannaris' team, calling it the most successful unit in Greece.

Giannaris and his men, a mix of Greek guerrillas and Greek-Americans, crawled for four hours at night toward the German encampment. Finally, Giannaris saw lit cigarettes about 20 yards off.

"Now we knew where the road was" - a road the team lined with mines after the Germans went on a maneuver. As Giannaris' men withdrew, they were somehow detected.

"Everything in this book is basically the war on terror," O'Donnell said. "What we are using today stems from what these guys did."

(Excerpt) Read more at fortwayne.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: balkans; bronzestar; greece; greekamericans; guerrillas; militaryhistory; nazis; oss; ww2

1 posted on 04/24/2004 12:16:49 PM PDT by Destro
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To: *balkans
Band of Adelphous.....
2 posted on 04/24/2004 12:17:18 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: Destro
While O'Donnell was taking questions, Giannaris and Sembrakis engaged in a somewhat heated discussion in English and Greek.

Giannaris - who never put himself up for a Bronze Star ("It's for them. I wanted them to get it") - explained that Sembrakis was angry about his old commander's selflessness: "(He asked), `Where's yours?' "
3 posted on 04/24/2004 12:23:56 PM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: Destro
Wow.
4 posted on 04/24/2004 12:24:43 PM PDT by Imal (Given a choice between death and freedom, I'll choose freedom every time.)
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To: archy; Travis McGee; Old Sarge
some old school tales
5 posted on 04/24/2004 12:35:07 PM PDT by King Prout (poets and philosophers should NEVER pretend to Engineering... especially SOCIAL Engineering!)
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To: Southack; Imal

6 posted on 04/24/2004 12:35:41 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
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To: msdrby; SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Southack
Giannaris - who never put himself up for a Bronze Star ("It's for them. I wanted them to get it") - explained that Sembrakis was angry about his old commander's selflessness: "(He asked), `Where's yours?' "

Prince John obviously hasn't heard of this.

7 posted on 04/24/2004 12:39:53 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (Damn the stoplights, full speed ahead!)
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To: Destro; VaBthang4; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; Blueflag; Travis McGee; aristeides; SpookBrat; ...
I have a very good friend who was a forward observer with the Rangers during the Korean War. His "long gray line" Lieut clashed with him for whatever reason, and one night with a Chinese attack imminent, his Lt withdrew without notice, leaving him and his observer team behind Chinese lines.

They were in a terrible spot for a week, he was wounded 3 times, miraculously saved his team, and eventually they made it out.

His team wrote him up for the Silver Star, and the paperwork was submitted. The response was a visit by then BG William Westmoreland who my Ranger friend knew and got along with very well. Westmoreland had a request. He said that he believed if he submitted that Silver Star that it would be approved. However, he added that if he submitted that Silver Star that it would ruin the career of a young west point Lieutenant. He asked my friend to withdraw the award as a favor.

My friend did as Westmoreland asked.

I've often wondered if it's possible to have that relooked, but it's probably not. Westmoreland's gone. All that remains is an old veteran, a really neat story, and the realization that all deserved awards aren't pinned on and lots of undeserved ones are.
8 posted on 04/24/2004 12:40:15 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of It!)
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To: Destro
"Everything in this book is basically the war on terror," O'Donnell said. "What we are using today stems from what these guys did."

This is the only thing that concerns me when books like this are sold in public. If we know the strategies, then our enemies (the terrorists) can read this same book and glean out the same strategies.

9 posted on 04/24/2004 12:43:10 PM PDT by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace (Michael <a href = "http://www.michaelmoore.com/" title="Miserable Failure">"Miserable Failure"</a>)
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To: King Prout
some old school tales

Some old schoolboys:

February 1, 2003

The model of the bronze sculpture for the Hellenic American Veterans Memorial has been unveiled, 1 February 2003. It depicts a Greek American Operational Group OSS Member in full battle dress, alert, and ready for combat behind the lines in Greece during World War Two. The OSS was the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. The statue will stand atop a pillar monument, to be erected in Athens, Greece.

Shown in the photograph are the sculptor, A.G. Saffas (seated). Standing are some of the surviving members of the Greek American OSS Group (left to right): A. Mousalimas, A. Phillips, N.H. Cominos, and A. Lygizos.

The photograph was taken by, and remains the property of, G. Kareofelas.

Information about the Hellenic American Veterans Memorial is available on-line at the Ahepa HAVM web-site.

Memoirs of Andrew G. Saffas, the sculptor, are published here in the PAHH web-site. A description of the bronze sculpture itself can found on-line at Saffas Artworks.

Memoirs from the OSS Greek American Group, written by Andrew S. Mousalimas. are soon to be published here, in the PAHH web-site. The history was kept top-secret until the fiftieth anniversary of the end of WW2, so the events may be generally unknown, and the publication should be of interest. Check the PAHH home-page news for the announcement.

Auxiliary Data
Copyright © PAHH.

10 posted on 04/24/2004 12:51:09 PM PDT by archy (The darkness will come. It will find you,and it will scare you like you've never been scared before.)
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To: Destro
bmp
11 posted on 04/24/2004 1:04:54 PM PDT by shield (The Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God!!!! by Dr. H. Ross, Astrophysicist)
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To: xzins
I've often wondered if it's possible to have that relooked, but it's probably not. Westmoreland's gone. All that remains is an old veteran, a really neat story, and the realization that all deserved awards aren't pinned on and lots of undeserved ones are.

This is probably a dumb question, but has your friend hired a professional military historian - or reporter who loves the troops (perhaps a willing and able Freeper) - to document his story?

It sounds very much worth telling, and the publicity may bring that long overdue Silver Star.

12 posted on 04/24/2004 1:21:15 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("Evil is out there, and evil wishes to attack us." - Lt. Gen. J Vines, commander, 18th Airborne Corp)
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To: SandRat
Ping. History lessons, and an overdue honor.

Check out archy and xzins posts, too.

13 posted on 04/24/2004 1:38:36 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("Evil is out there, and evil wishes to attack us." - Lt. Gen. J Vines, commander, 18th Airborne Corp)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
He has never hired a historian or reporter. He simply tells his story.

Why do I believe him? His integrity is amazing, he tells a very detailed story, he is a district DAV commander, a very solid Christian member of our church, and he has no real reason to lie.
14 posted on 04/24/2004 1:42:00 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of It!)
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To: Professional Engineer
Prince John obviously hasn't heard of this.

The difference is that these guys were honorable, not self-serving. ;-)

15 posted on 04/24/2004 1:50:40 PM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: xzins
Why do I believe him?

I didn't ask that, nor would I?!

He's your friend!

I was thinking about the schoolboy (from Indiana(?)) who did a report on the Indianapolis, and the Captain of the ship who was unfairly (politically) blamed for it's sinking during WWII, and who decided to fight to clear the Captain's good name, and to bring the truth to light...all these years later.

I'm guessing your friend is like most true heroes, disinterested in the publicity, more interested in the welfare of our young warriors today. Still, a respectful friend could do the country a favor by telling his story - the truth (unlike the mega-numbers of revisionist "historians" protecting and promoting 'John Kerrys' - and other less deserving Americans who 'lead' us down 'new' paths into trouble.)

16 posted on 04/24/2004 2:29:19 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("Evil is out there, and evil wishes to attack us." - Lt. Gen. J Vines, commander, 18th Airborne Corp)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
I know you didn't, nor did I mean to imply that you were concerned. But on reading it again, I can see how I could have been interpreted that way.

Sorry.
17 posted on 04/24/2004 2:58:53 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of It!)
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
We NEVER leave our brothers behind and we NEVER forget.
18 posted on 04/24/2004 3:14:27 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Professional Engineer; Destro
Thanks for the ping PE. Good post Destro.
19 posted on 04/24/2004 4:39:53 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Stress is when you wake up screaming & you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet.)
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To: Destro
bump
20 posted on 04/24/2004 7:05:56 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
For several reasons it would be interesting to know if the Lt. who left his men behind ever shaped up and made a decent officer - or whether he killed some others who were unfortunately placed under his command as a result of this "favor".

Having met a man who worked his way up from a pvt. off a dirt farm in Mariana, FL to an upper level officer in Delta Force (comissioned without a college degree, by the way!) , I have a problem with envisioning how a Lt. with such basic character deficiencies was worth Westmoreland's efforts. But it would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?
21 posted on 04/24/2004 7:13:13 PM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon liberty, it is essential to examine principles - -)
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To: GladesGuru
Know any good investigative reporters with a love for their country and some spare time? *g*
22 posted on 04/24/2004 7:25:49 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("Evil is out there, and evil wishes to attack us." - Lt. Gen. J Vines, commander, 18th Airborne Corp)
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To: Destro; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; bentfeather; HiJinx; Radix; Howie66; mylife; Hondo1952; ...
Great story ping
23 posted on 04/24/2004 7:56:38 PM PDT by StarCMC (Please pray for the 2/7 Marines and Josh...)
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