ATHENS – Only three bones were found and identified by the Commission for Missing Persons as the remains of Lieutenant General Giorgos Papalambridis of Ioannina, 44 years after his death in the Pentadaktylos Mountains in 1974, the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported.
The bones of Papalambridis were found at “Aspri Mouti,” the highest point of the Alonagra peak (935 meters), where he fought the Turkish invaders with his unit, the 399 Infantry Battalion of the National Guard.
As explained by the Greek Cypriot representative in the Missing Persons Commission, ANA-MPA reported, the reason why only three bones were found was because the grave was shallow and over the years the remains may have been disturbed by animals or swept away in the rains.
The point where the remains were found is consistent with testimony that he was the leader and commander of the company.
A few other bones were found of others fallen in the area. Another 13 dead were identified as Greek Cypriots who had been declared missing.
In the Papalambridis file at the Missing Persons Commission, the testimony of living eyewitnesses, the men from his unit, are shocking. According to these, “the commander of the 2nd Company, Giorgos Papalambridis, was standing upright and uncovered on a rock, instructing his soldiers.”
A Turkish sniper shot Papalambridis “in the forehead right at a point just below his helmet. The bullet pierced the skull and Papalambidis fell dead.”
In October, John Papalambridis is expected to go to Cyprus to retrieve his brother’s remains which will be buried “in the Papagos Cemetery next to our parents, Stefanos and Penelope,” he said.
Giorgios Papalambridis went to Cyprus in September 1973 and was assigned to the National Guard. Although the National Guard orders did not place him in a unit on the front lines, he offered, for reasons of mutual solidarity, to take over the command of the unit in Bogazi, near the occupied Famagusta in 1974.
On July 19, Papalambridis, chose to join the 399 Infantry Battalion and assumed the command of the 2nd Company. He was entrusted with the defense of the heights in the area of Alonagra in the Pentadaktylos mountains to prevent the Turkish forces from advancing south.
Papalampridis’ company held the heights for three days. The worthy Gianniotis fell heroically, while a truce was in effect. The Hellenic Ministry of National Defense awarded him, as a mark of honor, the rank of captain, and in 2008, by Presidential Decree, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.
From Limassol to Ioannina and from Ioannina to Pentadaktylos
The sacrifice of Papalambridis has another dimension, as it can be compared to that of Limassol Mayor Christodoulos Sozou in 1912, who fell on the hill of Prophet Elias, fighting as a volunteer for the liberation of the city of Ioannina.
Papalambridis was born in 1946 in Ioannina. In 1958, he was admitted to the Zosimaia School. In 1969, he graduated from the Evelpidon School as a Second Infantry Lieutenant. He was unmarried when he went to Cyprus to serve in the National Guard with the rank of captain in 1973.
The Ioannina City Council unanimously accepted the proposal of the Alumni Association of Zosimaia School to name one of Ioannina’s new squares after Papalambridis.
The commemorative marble plaque reads:
Lieutenant General EA
Graduate of Zosimaia School Ioannina
Fell in battle in Cyprus on 22 July 1974
Defending the boundaries of Hellenism
In His Honor.
Municipality of Ioannina
Zosimaia School Alumni Association of Ioannina 2011.”
Also, a bust of Papalambridis has been placed in Papagos grove.
Material from the ANA-MPA was used int his report.