AHEPA Family Members Contribute to the
Unveiling of a Monument to WWII Battalion

By Nikie Andronico Saffas, Communications Director a Executive Secretary,
Greek/US Operational Group Soldier Committee

The heroes of Company C, Cominos, Mousalimas, and Lygizos, proudly gather around the monument dedicated in their honor.

Hellenic Army ALSOS Park, next to the Ministry of Defense, in Athens, Greece served as a fitting venue for Greek-American volunteers of the US Army's Company C 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion who were honored on May 26, 2005 for their service during World War II. These volunteers fought together with Greek resistance forces in 1944 to liberate occupied Greece from the Nazis.

The minister of National Defense, Spilios P. Spiliotopoulos; Honorary Army Commander, Lt. General Konstantinos Korkas; and military officials of the Hellenic Army, Navy, Air Force, and Special Forces, participated in the ceremony before a group of more than 200 guests. It was a thrilling sight to observe the 130 Hellenic Special Forces soldiers stand at attention in front of the flag-draped monument to the heroes of the 2671st Battalion.

In attendance were three of the few surviving volunteers, honorees: AHEPA Life Member Angelo N. Lygizos, Nicholas H. Cominos, and Andrew S. Mousalimas.

Emotions were high as the Minister slowly pulled the flag from the monument, and there was extended applause as the bronze soldier statue was revealed in all its magnificence. The Minister placed a laurel wreath of leaves at the base of the monument. After a moment of silence in honor of the volunteers, heavy rain interrupted the Minister's speech, and all retired to the nearby rotunda, where the ceremonies continued.

Minister Spiliotopoulos stated, in part, "The action of the Greek-American volunteers expresses the contribution of our fellow-Greeks in all our nation's struggles and shows the continued attachment of contemporary Greeks to ancient values and Hellenic ideals. Similarly, it underscores the common course of Hellenism, in whatever land, and constitutes an example of the unity and ethnic connection in the struggle for freedom and progress.

"We consider our Hellenes abroad as one of the most important contributors to our nation's strength, who, in different circumstances presented and present valuable services to our nation."

The sculptor, Ahepan Andrew Saffas, addressed the drenched audience in Greek, "To me, the monument was a dream I had for almost six years, but in my dreams I didn't see such rain! It was an honor for me as a sculptor to create the bronze soldier to honor the volunteers. I made it to be as they were - strong, in the uniform they wore, with the weapon they carried -determined and ready!"

The Minister presented commemorative plaques to Cominos, Lyzigos, and Mousalimas, as well as bronze commemorative soldier medallions to the sculptor, and to relatives of deceased volunteers. Along with the medallions, a book issued by the National General Staff was distributed.

The three volunteers present individually thanked the military and committee for everything. An officer from the American Embassy in Greece also addressed the audience.

Sophia Johnston, chair of the Soldier Monument Committee and past DOP president of Echo Chapter 4, thanked the Greek Military for the site and the beautiful base of solid, white Pentelic marble; the members of the Committee; and the donors, who together, made the dream a reality.

Local Ahepans, including Chapter HJ01 President George Costas, Philanthropy Director HJ01 Manos Aerakis, and Steve Adamopoulos were among the supporters of this event.

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus, and "sister" chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922 in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which includes philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence to the community. The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena. For more information about the organization or how to join, contact AHEPA Headquarters (202-232-6300) or visit the organization's newly redesigned website at http://www.ahepa.org.

HCS maintains an extensive archives of AHEPA articles and press releases which readers are invited to browse under the AHEPA Family Releases section of the site archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveahepa.html.

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.