ATHENS – He wants to go out the same way he came in – “barefoot” – so World War II veteran and Greek shipowners Iakovos Tsounis, 97, said he will donate most of his riches to the country’s military.
The philanthropist said that will be some 23 million euros ($27.59 million) for Greece’s defense, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, just as the country is locked in a tense duel with Turkey over rights to the seas that had seen them almost clash in 2020.
The donation also includes 60 new amphibious special forces vessels to beef up the army and navy as Greece has just made a $2.79 billion deal to buy 12 used and six new French-made Rafale fighter jets and eyeing French frigates.
Tsounis was born in the western port city of Patras and is a descendant of fighters of the Greek War of Independence between 1821 and 1829. He fought at the age of 16 on the Albanian front against Mussolini's invading army in 1940, pushing it back.
For his overall contributions, he honored in by Greek military in April 2020, following a recommendation by Greece’s Defense Minister, and was also elevated to the rank of Honorary Major General.
There was no initial word on what the money would buy or where it would go, a rare gift from the Greek shipowners who are essentially tax-free and have done little to help the country deal with the COVID-19 pandemic after letting the country fend with a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis on its own