ATHENS – During an informative and inspiring morning and afternoon visit on July 10, members of the Order of AHEPA from the United States hosted by the Commander-In-Chief of the Hellenic Fleet Vice-Admiral Ioannis G. Pavlopoulos and his colleagues experienced a historic special tour and series of briefings at the Headquarters of the Hellenic Navy on the Island of Salamis.
The warmth exuded by the hosts who constantly expressed their appreciation for the love for the homeland that exists in the Hellenic Diaspora matched the radiance from above during the sun-drenched day that included numerous ferry and speedboat rides between facilities on Salamis and the town of Skaramanga on the mainland.
The delegation from America was led by Sons of Pericles Advisor Eric Hill (AKA Ηρακλης Βουνιδης) and Kostas Pammachon Dervenis, on whose initiative the visit was organized, and past AHEPA District 2 Governor Kostas Sofikitis. A presentation about the visit is expected to take place at AHEPA’s upcoming Supreme Convention in Orlando, FL.
It was a historic event for the Greek-American community – one whose delay the hosts and organizers were honored to have been able to redress. “It was a first-ever event, AHEPA, Sons of Pericles, Maids of Athena, and AHEPA youth from across the state of Florida were represented, as well as our brothers from AHEPA Manhattan Delphi Chapter 25 which was represented by an officer, an active member, and an AHEPA Youth,” Hill said.
The hosts and visitors alike spoke of the importance of such events that create direct links between the Greeks of the Diaspora and the armed forces of the homeland.
While noting the tremendous respect the US and its NATO allies already have for the Greek military – the importance of the growing and deepening ties between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel were also emphasized – speakers urged the visitors to share their experiences with their fellow Hellenes and Americans, and especially with their representatives in Washington.
What they saw was a heartwarming and reassuring display of professionalism and skill of the personnel at the heart of a powerful and dependable defense of Hellas and the Western alliance “through a technocratic command of military assets (sailors, including elite Hellenic Navy SEALs) systems, and innovative policy initiatives,” Hill said.
Boarding the state of the art vessels in the vanguard of the defense of Hellas, including the Frigate Psaras and a submarine – the guests were delighted to see dozen of crafts from every category of Greek naval defense, huge landing craft, gunships armed with the latest missiles, and speedboats used by Hellenic navy seals and special forces.
The submarines, whose technological superiority constitutes a force multiplier, are a vital part of the Hellenic naval strategy, justifying their high cost.
The guests were very impressed when they were informed that during the crisis, numerous Greek ship owners, including Gianna Angelopoulos, have stepped up and financed the purchase of critical items. Vice Admiral Pavlopoulos praised them for continuing in the spirit of historical grand benefactors of the Greek armed forces such as the Averoff family, and the Greek diaspora of the 1821 era and invited today’s Hellenes abroad to also contribute to the mission of keeping Greece’s army, navy, and air force qualitatively ahead of adversaries with quantitative advantages.
One of the highlights of the visit included a tour of training grounds and greetings from some of those elite forces.
Hill said, “We would like to thank the sailors and elite Hellenic Navy SEALS (their faces could not be shown because their identities are quite literally state secrets) for the historic tour of Hellenic Navy Headquarters hospitality and the display of skill.”
The guests were free to take photos on the base, including of the exteriors of the vessels, but were forbidden in the interiors, which constituted a stunning display of cutting-edge technology that will keep Greece at least a step ahead of Turkey and other potential opponents. The new 214 class submarine running silent with the latest fuel cells that can power its engines for up to two days is virtually invisible to attackers.
Hill expressed the thoughts and feelings of all present when he said, “We were truly humbled by the display of these men who put their lives on the line daily to protect our families, friends, and associates in Greece while also serving numerous humanitarian missions, both on Greece’s initiative and as members of NATO.”
Thanks were expressed to Vice Admiral Pavlopoulos, as well as the rest of the Hellenic Navy, for preserving the territorial integrity of Hellas, guarding the front door of Western Democracy, and protecting our Patrida.
There were constant references to the fact that in 3 years the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Salamis will be celebrated. It was noted that the heroism of the Hellenes on land and sea in that era defended not only Hellas but also saved Western and Democracy from being extinguished by Persian tyranny, and that Greece, and especially the modern Greek Navy continue to “guard the gates of the West, the new Thermopylae, and man the walls of new Constantinoples,” in the words of Pavlopoulos.