By Commander Demetries Grimes


It is said that Cadmus’ Spartoi (sown men), rose from the slayed dragon’s teeth he planted in the ground in Thebes. In WWII Nazi-occupied Greece, with the help of Greek-Americans, the dragon’s teeth were sown once again to disrupt the Nazi war effort…

In January 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an initiated member of AHEPA Chapter Number 25, signed an Executive Order establishing the US Army 122nd Infantry Battalion. The battalion was established to deploy forces to Greece, which was occupied by Nazi German Forces. The unit was named the 122nd Infantry Battalion to mark 122 years of Greek Independence from Ottoman Turkish oppression.

President Roosevelt appointed Major Peter Clainos of Manchester, New Hampshire as Commanding Officer of the 122nd Infantry Battalion. Clainos was the first Greek-born American to graduate from West Point. Born in Sparta, Greece, in 1907, he arrived in America with his father and one of his four sisters in 1912. Prior to attending West Point, Clainos was one of the two founders of the Greek-American fraternity, the Sons of Pericles. OSS Agent, Harry Lagoudakis and AHEPA Supreme President, George Vournas, recruited members of the Operational Groups.  It has been said the group used the AHEPA Constitution as a cipher to transmit coded messages while operating behind enemy lines.

The Greek-American Battalion Training at Ft. Carson, Colorado.

President Roosevelt appointed Major Peter Clainos of Manchester, New Hampshire as Commanding Officer of the 122nd Infantry Battalion. Clainos was the first Greek-born American to graduate from West Point. Born in Sparta, Greece, in 1907, he arrived in America with his father and one of his four sisters in 1912. Prior to attending West Point, Clainos was one of the two founders of the Greek-American fraternity, the Sons of Pericles. AHEPA leaders in the United States played a major role in recruiting members for the unit. It has been said the group used the AHEPA Constitution as a cipher to transmit coded messages while operating

Much of what has been written about the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), revolves around tales of clandestine activities and espionage. Overlooked by most historians are the fascinating and heroic exploits of the OSS Operational Groups (OG). Kept Top Secret for more than forty years after the war. During World War II, OGs were small highly trained military units tasked with intelligence gathering, organizing, training, supplying, and working with local resistance fighters against Axis forces behind enemy lines. The OGs in the Mediterranean were organized under the command of the 2671stSpecial Reconnaissance Battalion. The most effective and highly decorated of these groups were formed from the 122nd Infantry Battalion at Fort Carson, Colorado. The 122nd Infantry Battalion was established by President Franklin Roosevelt, at the request of the Greek government in exile, to recruit Greek-Americans to support resistance efforts in German occupied Greece. 

With Greek Resistance Fighters.

The founder of the OSS and the OGs was millionaire Wall Street Lawyer and World War I Medal of Honor winner, Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan. In 1940, before the United States’ entry into War, Colonel Donovan was tasked by President Roosevelt and the US Secretary of the Navy with a special mission to gather intelligence in Britain, Europe, and the Southern Mediterranean on Axis operations and Allied capabilities to counter the German war machine. After two extended trips to the region, he concluded that neither the United States nor Britain were capable of defeating the Axis powers with conventional military forces alone. According to his assessment, highly skilled forces engaging in coordinated guerrilla warfare would be required to win the war. He believed the rich ethnic makeup of America could provide second-generation American soldiers with special capabilities to support local resistance organizations. He envisioned creating an elite force of highly skilled warriors and inserting them as small teams behind enemy lines to gather intelligence, commit acts of sabotage, engage in counterespionage, train local resistance fighters, and coordinate combined guerrilla resistance operations.

Convinced by Colonel Donovan’s assessment, President Roosevelt appointed him to lead the OSS and begin the recruiting and training of agents and units needed to “sow the dragon’s teeth” in Europe. The men recruited for these special units were physically fit, intelligent, motivated, trusted, and resourceful soldiers with language skills and cultural knowledge. Skills that would enable them to operate independently behind enemy lines. The source of inspiration for their training syllabus were the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), British Special Air Service (SAS), and Special Operations Executive (SOE). The Greek Battalion was comprised primarily of Greek Americans, but also included Greek merchant mariners who joined the US Army from Greek ships stuck in US ports. They were volunteers and made aware of the inherent risk of serving in the commando units. Fewer than ten percent were expected to survive their tour of duty. Aware of the threat these special units would pose, Adolf Hitler issued an order on Oct 18, 1942, Fuhrer Edict No. 003830/42g which stated: “From now on all enemies on so called Commando Missions in Europe or Africa, challenged by German troops, even if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.” It was also rumored that Hitler offered a capture reward for Commandos equivalent to their weight in gold.

With the Greek Resistance in Northern Greece.

A force of 12 officers and 120 non-commissioned officers qualified for the Greek-American Battalion. In advance of the OG deployments, OG officers parachuted into Greece to establish relations with the British Military Mission and Antartes groups in their mountain hideaways. The men were formed into eight Operational Groups. The units were inserted by sea and by parachute under cover of darkness in early 1944 and dispersed throughout Greece to work with British military officers and the Andartes of the EAM-ELAS (National Liberation Front-National Liberation Army). Their mission was to inflict the heaviest damage possible on the enemy and destroy communications, rail networks, and bridges used by the Wehrmacht for redeployments and withdrawal of the 150,000 German and Axis occupation forces and their equipment. They also conducted sabotage operations, with intelligence provided by the US Naval Attaché in Ankara, against the transfer of strategic materials moving from Turkey to Germany via Greece by rail. Group I conducted operations in Epirus, Group II in Roumeli, Group III in Thessaly, Group IV in Macedonia, Group V in Mt. Paikon, Group VI in Mt. Olympus area, Group VII in the Peloponnese, and Group VIII in Macedonia.

CDR Demetries Andrew Grimes, USN Ret.

Considering the overwhelming odds and challenges they faced, the Greek Battalion suffered only three combat fatalities and 23 wounded in action. Despite Hitler’s order and capture reward, not a single member of the Greek Battalion was betrayed or captured. The eight groups conducted 76 operations in Greece accounting for more than 2000 enemy killed, wounded, or captured, destroyed 15 bridges, 11 locomotives, 32 train cars, 63 military vehicles, 6 garrisons, and more than 9000 meters of rail. Their successful actions earned them a US Army record number of individual Bronze Star Medals and the prestigious Presidential Unit Citation. On 26 May 2005, they were recognized with the unveiling of a statue in their honor by then Greek Defense Minister, Spilios Spiliotopoulos, at the Armed Forces Park in Athens. In his address to the  US and Greek officials, veterans, widows, and family members of the Greek Battalion gathered, Minister Spiliotopoulous stated “the actions of the Greek American volunteers express in general their contribution in all our nation’s struggles and exemplifies the attachment to modern Greece with the ancient values and ideals of our Hellenism.” In March of 2018, OSS and OG veterans were honored once more, at the Capital in Washington, DC, in a ceremony awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal. With thousands of documents related to their exploits yet to be declassified by the US government, expect to hear more about these brave warriors who went into harm’s way, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for both the United States and Hellas.

Some great books about the OSS and the Operational Groups are: “Donovan’s Devils, OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines-Europe, WWII” by Albert Lulushi, “Behind the Lines in Greece: The Story of OSS Operational Group II” by Robert E. Perdue, Jr., and “Classical Spies: American Archaeologists with the OSS in WWII Greece” by Susan Heuck Allen.

Greek Operational Group

Deployment Details 1944




Greek Group I

April 23

Epirus, NW Greece

Greek Group II

June 18

Roumeli, S Central

Greek Group III

July 19

Thessaly, Mid-E Greece

Greek Group IV

Sept. 8


Greek Group V

May 21

Mt. Paikon, N Greece

Greek Group VI

July 19

Olympus, Mid-E Greece

Greek Group VII

May 16


Greek Group VIII

July 16


Greek Operations:

Greek Group I
Capt. George W. Verghis
Capt. Ronald J. Darr

1st Lt. Paul J. Mackey 
T/Sgt. Victor L. Miller
S/Sgt. Jerry Apostolatos
Sgt. George G. Boosalis
Sgt. Minas C. Kavallieros
Sgt. George. J. Papastrat
Cpl. William Johnson
Cpl. Gust C. Kraras
T/4 Armando Sanches
T/5 Constatin S. Bertakis
T/5 Paul N. Frangis
T/5 George N. Karamas
T/5 George E. Katsaros
T/5 George J. Kutulas
T/5 Gregory M. Pahules
T/5 Arris Poulos

Greek Group II
Capt. Frank T. Blanas
1st Lt. John Giannaris (W)

1st Lt. Nicholas G Pappas
T/Sgt. Barnard F. Brady
S/Sgt. James M. Apostolopoulos (W)
S/Sgt. Mike G. Kountouris (W)
S/Sgt. George C. Kypriotis
S/Sgt. Peter M. Moshopoulos (W)
Sgt. Stephanos J. Philippides
T/4 Spiros T. Taflambas
T/4 James Zonas (W)
Cpl. Louis G. Lenares
Cpl. Hercules J. Sembrakis
Cpl. Costas A. Theodorou
T/5 James K Alexatos
T/5 Demetrius Frangas
T/5 Angelo H. Kaleyias
T/5 Theodore N. Markides
T/5 Steve P. Marthiakes
T/5 Alekos X. Orkoulas
T/5 Gus L. Palans
T/5 Christ Skiriotis
T/5 George S. Tiniakos
T/5 George S. Tiniakos
T/5 Michalis Tsirmulas (K)

Greek Group III
1st Lt. Michael P. Manusos
1st Lt. Donald E. Mort
1st Lt. Nicholas G Pappas
S/Sgt. Steve J. Mastros
S/Sgt. James A. Tsolas
S/Sgt. Alex Vellis
Cpl. John G. Katsikos
T/4 George J. Pappas
T/5 Peter J. Anton
T/5 William G. Mehilos

Greek Group IV
Capt. Robert E. Eichler
1st Lt. Paul B. Pope

S/Sgt. Christ C. Christis
S/Sgt. Tom P. Georgalos
Sgt. David J. Christ
Sgt. Nick H. Cominos
Sgt. Bill G. Kirtatas
Sgt. Steve Voulgarakis
T/4 James S. Kavourhas
Cpl. John Bitaikas
Cpl. Pete H. Lewis
Cpl. Andrew S. Mousalimas
Cpl. Alexander P. Phillips
Cpl. Perecles P. Phillips
T/5 Nick J. Amigdalitsis
T/5 James Antonakis
T/5 Dionisios Fotinatos
T/5 Alexander G. Gewlas
T/5 Andrew G. Gravis
T/5 George S. Kalliavas
T/5 Andrew G. Karabatsos
T/5 John M. Koutelis

Greek Group V
1st Lt. George Papazoglou (W)
1st Lt. Lou Payton
T/Sgt. Walter E. Gates
S/Sgt. Pete G. Paidas
S/Sgt. Anthony J. Saralis
S/Sgt. Lyle M. Schneeberger
S/Sgt. James A. Thomas
Sgt. John Bichekis (W)
T/4 Dean M. Lowdermilk
Cpl. Tasos J. Gianiotis
Cpl. Gust Mukanos
Cpl. Spero Psarakis (W)
Cpl. Alexander Psomas (W)
T/5 Harry T. Ameredes
T/5 Anargyros Antonopoulos
T/5 Mihail G. Kondos
T/5 Angelo N. Lygizos
T/5 John P. Minogianis
T/5 James Papavassiliou
T/5 Peter Photis
T/5 Peter Stamates (W)
T/5 Gus Vellios (W)
T/5 Constantine Zahariades
Cpl. Paul J. Zarras

Greek Group VI
1st Lt. George Chumas
T/Sgt. Richard J. Daigle, Jr.
T/Sgt. Apostolos G. Mihopoulos
T/Sgt. Alvin G. Painas
T/Sgt. Christopher Saris
T/Sgt. Theophanes G. Strimanos
S/Sgt. Thomas K. Andrews
S/Sgt. Harry Fergadiotis
S/Sgt. Peter M. Laris
Sgt. Harry J. Pulos
T/4 James A . Laubs
Cpl. Photios G. Doukas
Cpl. Anton Loukas
Cpl. Nick E. Ramoundos
T/5 Alexander Haritakis
T/5 Christ G. Lulas
T/5 Lambros G. Makris
T/5 Harris R. Mill
T/5 Nicholas D. Papapanu
T/5 Eleftherios J. Pipinias
T/5 Bill Portolos
T/5 Georgiios P. Portolos
T/5 Sotirios G. Vakakas

Greek Group VII
Capt. J. A. Rogers
Capt. Ronald J. Darr

1st Lt. Donald E. Mort
T/Sgt. Peter Panagakos
T/Sgt. James J. Zevitas
S/Sgt. Steve J. Mastros
Sgt. Steve J. Gineris
T/4 Joseph C. Ciras
T/4 William S. Hortos
T/4 Joseph F. Zien
T/5 Arthur J. Agoritsas
T/5 Charles P. Antinopoulos
T/5 Gust J. Babalis
T/5 Aristides J. Boutselis
T/5 Stavros E. Caragian
T/5 James Caroulis
T/5 George Hillias
T/5 Demetrios G. Kamvouris
T/5 Alexander G. Katsias
T/5 Gust Kitakis
T/5 Peter Kurchock
T/5 Charles Liarakos
T/5 Gus Nanos
T/5 Alexander C. Poryzess
T/5 Theodore J. Poulakos
T/5 Konstantine A. Salaris
T/5 Anthony G. Sampatacacus
T/5 Steven F. Segeti, Jr.
T/5 Harry Shiomos

Greek Group VIII
Capt. R. Darr
Lt. D. E. Mort
1st Lt. Gilbert O. Jackman
T/Sgt. John G.Glaros
S/Sgt. Sam C. Poulos
S/Sgt. George C. Karakitsos
S/Sgt. Demetrios N. Polyzos
Sgt. George N. Kfstathiou
Sgt. John Richakas
Sgt. Eleftherios T. Tsantes
Sgt. John E. Tsouderos
T/4 Arthur D. Papoulias
T/4 Evangelo Agelopas
T/4 Thomas P. Soullas
Cpl. Paul Siapicas
T/5 John C. Cacavias
T/5 James T. Drake
T/5 Gus Eliopoulos
T/5 Constantinos S. Katsikis
T/5 Rudolph R. Kosisek
T/5 Trifon E. Lafakis
T/5 William Leonardos
T/5 Sipridon B. Papayannakis
T/5 John T. Pirpos
T/5 Martin Redovian
T/5 Norbert F. Rennie
T/5 Peter Stamates
T/5 George J. Stathis
T/5 Nicholas A. Vanikiotis
T/5 George T. Basiardanes

There were also some Greeks in the Yugoslavian-American Unit.

Yugoslavian Island Operations: (with operation numbers)

Capt. L. B. Prus 3 7 10 11

Capt. R. R. Quay 3

Capt. A. J. Rogers 1 2

Capt. W. G. Bliden 1 3 6 7

Capt. R. E. Eichler, Jr. 5 6

Capt. R. F. Houlihan 3 6

Capt. A. W. Keer 1 3 5 6 8

Capt. G. C. Markoutsas 3 6

Lt. C. B. Butler 3

Lt. C. E. Bathory 1 3 6

Lt. W. C. Bentham 5 6 8

Lt. G. Chumas 3

Lt. D. Dobrski 4

Lt. M. Kopenits 6 10

Lt. V. Lavinskas 6 8 10

Maj. P. G. Lovell 3 5 6 7

Lt. J. W. McConnell 1 3 6 7 9 11

Lt. G. Milkovich 3

Lt. M. P. Manusos 3 6

Lt. L. W. McCrary 3 6 7

Lt. N. P. Paleded 3

Lt. N. Pappas 3 6

Lt. P. B. Pope 3 6

Lt. W. F. Rutkowski 3

Lt. H. H. Smith 6

Maj. J. W. Urban 8 10

Lt. M. C. Ward 6 9 11

1st Sgt. Strimenos 3 6

T/Sgt. A. G Psinas 3

T/Sgt. A. J. Snyder 1 3 

T/Sgt. E. F. Penak 3

T/Sgt. J. G. Glavos 3 6

T/Sgt. J. J. Zevitas 2

T/Sgt. M. Jozsa 3 7 9

T/Sgt. P. M. J. D. Panagakos 2

T/Sgt. R. L. Daigle, Jr. 3

S/Sgt. A. G. Mihopoulos 3

S/Sgt. B. Spiroff 2 9

S/Sgt. C. T. Saris 6

S/Sgt. E. Della 1 3 6

S/Sgt. J. J. Lutchkus 3 6 7

S/Sgt. J. Mayher 6 

S/Sgt. J. Y. G. Tirpik 8

S/Sgt. L. A. Kasabucki 1 3

S/Sgt. L. D. Divari

S/Sgt. L. D. Udvari 3 6 7 8

S/Sgt. L. J. Arsenault 3 4 7

S/Sgt. L. J. Pastilock 3 4

S/Sgt. M. Bogdonoff 6 7

S/Sgt. M. F. Sasko 3 6

S/Sgt. M. Kovalick 6 7

S/Sgt. T. K. Andrews 3 6

S/Sgt. W. F. Parobechek 6 7 9

S/Sgt. W. S. Mierzejewski 5 6 8

Sgt. B. V. Narewski 6

Sgt. C. C. Christis 3 5 6

Sgt. D. N. Polyzos 3 6

Sgt. E. John 6 7 9 10

Sgt. G. C. Karakitsos 3 6

Sgt. G. J. Caragian 2

Sgt. G. J. Kirchner 5 6 

Sgt. G. Petemezas 3

Sgt. J. Tsolas 3 6

Sgt. L. Goromby 1 3

Sgt. L. M. Nowicki 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sgt. M. S. Sapna3

Sgt. P. M. Laris 3

Sgt. R. Georges 3

Sgt. R. J. Kelly 6

Sgt. T. P. Georgalos 3 5 6 7

Sgt. W. A. Zach 5 6 8

Cpl. A. Loukas 3

Cpl. A. Phillips 3 5 6 7

Cpl. A. S. Mousalimas 3 5 6 7

Cpl. C. Kyriakos 3

Cpl. C. W. Mitchell 3 6

Cpl. D. Marcisiak 3 7

Cpl. D. Pounovich 1 6

Cpl. F. T. Blackwood 3 6

Cpl. G. J. Katsikos 3 6

Cpl. J. Czebely 1 3 6 8

Cpl. N. A. Angelos 3 6

Cpl. N. E. Ramoundos 3

Cpl. O. N. Feher 3 6 7

Cpl. P.G. Doukas 3

Cpl. P. H. Lewis 3 6 7

Cpl. P. Phillips 3 6 7

Cpl. P. Siapicas 3 6

Cpl. Palguta 1 3

Cpl. S. J. Carkonis 3

Cpl. S. Voulgarskis 3

T/4 E. N. Zaphiris 3

T/4 J. Zonas 3 6 7

T/4 O. E. Gutman 1 3

T/4 S. H. Lukuchko 10

T/5 A. Budraitis 3 4 8 10

T/5 A. C. Poryzees 6 7

T/5 A. E. Lakovic 1

T/5 A. G. Karabatsos 3

T/5 A. G. Sampatacacus 6 7

T/5 A. Grevis 5 6

T/5 A. Haratakis 3

T/5 A. L. George 3 6

T/5 A. P. Bugay 3 6 7

T/5 R. G. Kelso 3 6 7

T/5 A. Poulos 3 6

T/5 A. Radak 1 3 6 10

T/5 A. T. Walther 6 10

T/5 B. Economo 3 5 6 7

T/5 B. G. Kirtatis 3

T/5 B. Portolos 3

T/5 C. A. Smoller 1 3

T/5 C. D. Karatsikis 3

T/5 C. G. Lulas 3

T/5 C. J. Bartz 5 6

T/5 C. J. Liarakos 2

T/5 C. J. Novak 5 6 8

T/5 C. J. Rozinski 1 3 8

T/5 C. Laszcych 1 3 6

T/5 C. Nicholas 9

T/5 C. Robertson 1 3 6

T/5 D. E. Van Gampleare 5 6 8

T/5 D. Fotinatos 3 5 6 

T/5 D. J. Christ 3 5 6

T/5 E. A. Hermann 6

T/5 E. Angelopas 3 6

T/5 E. G. Houdek 3

T/5 E. J. Papinias 3

T/5 E. J. Youhouse 1 3 5 6 7 8

T/5 E. Sliwa 5 6 8

T/5 E. Tsantes 3 6

T/5 E. W. Pucel 6 7 9

T/5 F. G. Smolinski 5 6 8

T/5 F. Jurgaitis 6 7 8

T/5 F. Kovalkevich 5 6

T/5 F. Mowinski 8

T/5 G. A. Nickolopoulos 3 6

T/5 G. E. Lorenz 1 3 6 7 9 10

T/5 G. Eliopoulos 3 6

T/5 G. Ivansko 6

T/5 G. P



Photos from Official US Army and Lt Giannaris collections.


*Commander Demetries Grimes is a former US naval officer, aviator, and diplomat. He has served as Naval Attaché to Greece, Naval Attaché to Israel, Deputy Commander of the US base in Crete, and Advisor to NATO’s Maritime Commander in London.