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

Greece: Drama

The Girl from Argirokastro

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At one of the voltas I had a chance meeting with a beautiful young girl. She was from Argirokastro, a village near Drama, and was visiting her aunt's family in Drama. We enjoyed each other's company and I told her, if it was okay with her, we would meet the next evening. I was a little puzzled because she was dressed sharply and had silk stockings unlike the girls in Drama. The next evening she and I took off by ourselves toward the Drama high school which was on the outskirts of town. I had seen the buildings and she suggested that we visit the school. As I mentioned previously in these memoirs, most Greek-American boys would not violate a Greek girl; and I had no ulterior motive except to socialize with this Greek beauty. She reminded me of the Greek-American girls in the States.

We were walking when all of a sudden a young Greek man, sharply dressed in a suit and a few years older than I, confronted us and began to angrily lash out at me. He told me that his cousin was visiting his family, he was responsible for her, and he would not become a ruffiano (pimp) for her. Of course I was surprised with his diatribe and I told him that he was mistaken. In retrospect I admired the young man. Physically he was a little guy, and I was in prime physical condition with a 45 pistol on my hip. We were in a secluded area. If I had been a different person he would have been in deep trouble. The young girl was crying. I said goodbye to her and took off.

The next night during the volta, the cousin sought me out, apologized, and introduced me to his mother (the girl's aunt). There was no reason for me to continue the relationship and string the young lady along, especially when I detected the aunt was acting like a match-maker. I bade them goodbye, never to meet up with the beautiful girl again.

Bouzoukee and Macedonian Dancing

The music and dancing in Macedonia was foreign to us Greek-Americans whose parents came from other parts of Greek and from an earlier generation. (My own came from Arcadia in the Peloponnese at the turn of the century).

One morning in front of our billet, a man serenaded us with an instrument resembling a guitar. It was the first time we had seen or heard the bouzoukee. Perry, who eventually became one of the founders of the Greek dance groups in America after the war, was especially interested. The bouzoukee player told us that on Sunday there would be a dance festival on the high school grounds. Most of us attended. The dancers were teenagers and young adolescents and the dances were intricate. We joined them, but we had trouble learning their dances. Perry, of course, continued in the line. Later he added the Macedonian dances to his first dance festival in Oakland in 1955. We did not socialize with the young people that afternoon; we returned to our billet.

Group 4 Departure:
The Finest Argument Captain Houlihan Ever Lost

Captain Houlihan arrived in Drama by plane, landing between the lighted makeshift kerosene lamps. He told Captain Eichler that all of the other Greek/USOGs had been evacuated, and since our mission was completed, Group 4 should join our unit in Bari.

Group 4 was the last to leave Greece, on November 20, 1944.

A C-47 with an American crew landed at our makeshift airport in Drama and we loaded up with all of our equipment. We loaded onto the C-47 and flew down the east coast of Greece, low enough to see the beautiful country, and landed at Tatoi Airport in Athens. British and OSS officers in charge of Allied operations in Athens ordered us not to debark from the airplane. Captain Robert Houlihan, who was with us, argued strongly to allow his men to visit Athens, believing it would be a shot in the arm for the morale of the Greek/USOG and especially for the Greek people, who would discover that Greek-Americans had fought in Greece. He did not win the argument. We were disappointed.

Since then, Major Houlihan (Ret.) has mentioned numerous times that it was the finest argument he has ever lost. The Greek civil war was brewing, and because the Americans were under British command, we would have been ordered into battle against the same Antartes (EAM/ELAS) with whom we had fought side by side in the mountains of Macedonia.

We flew on to Bari, Italy, where the six Greek-American Operational Groups were reunited once again.

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