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Greek / American Operational Group Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Memoirs of World War 2

Greece: Drama

Captain Eichler and a Trek to Serres

Captain Eichler, Sergeant Chris Christie, George Kalliavas, and I went to Seres, southwest of Drama, to meet with the British mission and the Antartes to discuss a future operation against the Germans, planned to take place west of the Strymon River. Lieutenant Pope was left in command of Group 4 in Drama. An Antarte guide and interpreter joined us.

It was more than twenty miles in each direction. Though walking/hiking is never welcomed, it becomes second nature to an infantryman. The area was mountainous while lush in many places, and the water flowing from the mountains was absolutely refreshing; no matter how much water I drank, I never felt bloated, always light.

I was pleased Kalliavas joined us because of his terrific personality and wonderful dry wit. A heavyset young man from Brookline, Massachusetts, he was the Cyrano of our group. His attitude was always cool. He was in Nick Cominos's squad with P. Phillips from California and Kirtatas from Piraeus. The three of them were the jokers of Group 4, and Nick Cominos was the perfect foil to control these outstanding personalities.

Captain Eichler rarely communicated with the enlisted men of our group ~ although his survival depended on them. He had not been in the Greek Battalion. He joined our unit at Area "F", during OSS training in Maryland. Former Captain George Verghis recently informed me Eichler had been assigned to Group 4. Both he and Pope were not of Greek origins; they were probably assigned to our group because the great majority of men in our group were Greek-Americans.

It is important to note Captain Robert Houlihan, Lieutenant Lon Payton and Lieutenant Paul Pope, who we anointed as honorary Greeks, were proud to be officers in the Greek/USOG, and exhibited great empathy for the Greek people and for the Antartes. Eichler never exhibited such empathy.

I had yet another reason to be suspicious of Eichler's attitude when an American pilot was rescued and turned over to our group in Drama. Although saved by the Antartes, who turned him over to us instead of leaving him to the Nazis, the pilot blatantly criticized the Greeks. Eichler never reprimanded him and allowed him to continue criticizing the Greeks. (The fly boy was fortunate never to be on one of our missions where there was always the risk of friendly fire.)

The Nazis Withdraw

Soon, the Nazis also withdrew from Greek Macedonia. The following photos were taken in Drama after the Nazis' withdrawal.

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