The Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, attended the official celebration in honour of the Hellenic Air Force Patron Saint, Archangel Michael, which was held at the Air Force Academy in Dekeleia.
The celebration was also attended by the Chief HNDGS - General Christos Christodoulou, the Chief HAGS - Lieutenant General Georgios Kampas, the Chief HNGS – Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis, the Chief HAFGS – Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, as well as by the Head of Attika Region – Mr. Georgios Patoulis, MPs, Defence Attachés from foreign countries, retired Chiefs and Officers.
The Minister of National Defence in his address stated the following:
“Dear Aviation Cadets,
I believe that most of you were there; at the amazing ceremony successfully organized by the HAFGS in honour of the Hellenic Air Force Patron Saints – Archangels, where the highlight was the awarding of Hellenic Air Force Veteran Heroes, this living history of the Air Force.
Thus, I would encourage Aviation Cadets to always remember this day. Allow me to wish and encourage the future of the Hellenic Air Force to draw inspiration from the example of these people. From the skies that they have flown, from the sacrifices they have lived – the sacrifices of their fellow fighters, their brothers, their friends’ weapons, from the limits they have passed, from the trials that have faced and dealt with.
If they do that, then they will prove they are worthy of the role and the historical legacy of the Hellenic Air Force.
I wish you, my dear Aviation Cadets, to be like them and if you can, because it will not be easy, to be even better than them. May good health attend you. May God be with you wherever you fly, wherever you participate in operations, wherever you stand, strong and proud as Greek Airmen.
Best wishes to the Hellenic Air Force”.
At the special event – concert held yesterday at the Athens Concert Hall in honour of the Hellenic Air Force Patron Saint, Archangel Michael, in the presence of the Minister of National Defence, the entire Military Leadership, as well as the MoD’ Secretary General, Mr. Antonis Oikonomou, the following veteran Aviators have been awarded:
Lieutenant General, retired, Georgios Pleionis;
Lieutenant General, retired, Konstantinos Chatzilakos;
Lieutenant General, retired, Efstathios Athanasopoulos;
Lieutenant General, retired, Panagiotis Karagiannis;
Lieutenant General, retired, Vyron Sacharidis;
Colonel, retired, Georgios Galanos.
Moreover, the Commander of the 336 Squadron, Lieutenant Colonel Dimitrios Koukaras and the Operations Officer of the 335 Squadron, Major Christos Manos have been awarded.
In his address, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, stated the following:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
The New World Symphony is the unique preamble for the newest Arm of the Armed Forces, which is none other that the Hellenic Air Force. A unique preamble, because we heard this exquisite performance by the Hellenic Air Force Band.
And I am not here today to preserve the myth of “weakness” for the Hellenic Air Force, because it has nothing to do with “weakness”; but with a full knowledge of the extremely important role that the Hellenic Air Force plays as regards the domination and the strengthening of the deterrent power of the Country’s Armed Forces.
The maximum speed of response, the enormous firepower, the potential for flexibility, the capability, the edge technologies and this crucial factor of superiority in terms of human resources render the Hellenic Air Force on a daily basis the tangible proof of such deterrent power of the Armed Forces.
We are here today to honour the Hellenic Air Force, on the eve of the great religious feast of its Archangels Patron Saints.
In particularly difficult times, the members of the Hellenic Air Force have faith in principles and values, being very well aware of the fact that the Nation’s prosperity also relies on the effective fulfillment of their mission. This sense of duty, the professionalism, the feeling of what mission and what successful fulfillment of the mission entails.
I would like to thank and congratulate the entire personnel of the Hellenic Air Force and the Armed Forces for its excellent response to its duties and to recognize its high morale and the readiness that characterizes it. We realize that every day and I believe it is our duty, as well as the duty of the entire Political and Military Leadership of the Armed Forces, to work towards strengthening this element.
And when, in a few days from now, hopefully by the end of the month or the end of the year the latest, the contracts for the upgrading of F-16, the revival of the Hellenic Airspace Industry and the follow-on support of Mirage 2000 and 2005 will be brought forward to the Greek Parliament, then I will also be in a position to say that we have fulfilled our duty as well, so that our Air Force would be up to the standards it should be.
And you should know that the country’s Armed Forces are here; powerful, reliable and strengthening the role of Greece as a pillar of stability and security in the region.
On the occasion though of this event, I would like to welcome the Greek Veteran Aviators, the Heroes who fought in the 2nd World War. We have the honour to stand in front of persons, who fought and endured deprivation in the fight of Greece. Persons, who have been active in the skies of Northern Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Italy, Yugoslavia and the Aegean Sea, performing hundreds of war missions.
They have finally attained their goal and managed to taste first -and then we- the sweet victory. It is important to call to mind and talk about their achievements, in order to protect them and prevent them from falling into oblivion. And we should not allow this to happen.
Respectable Veterans, I look at you one by one. Despite the time that has left its traces on your face, your look bears in our minds one thing; that freedom is something you have to fight for. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your contribution to the Nation. You are an example for younger generations and a beacon of guidance and inspiration for all of us.
You should feel proud for your achievements and may God bless you to enjoy, just as we do, the freedom that you have conquered.
Concluding, I would like to pay tribute to our heroes that are not here anymore and have left us heavy historical legacies, remaining faithful to the principles and the values they have served with effort and sacrifice. Someone once told that the tree of freedom is soaked in the blood of heroes and as regards the tree of Greece’s freedom, honestly, the quantity of blood that has flown, that has drenched it, I would say that it is insurmountable.
Hence, distinguished members of the Hellenic Air Force, I wish that you always fly high. High on the wings of Archangels with your own wings and I wish that you are – and you are indeed there is no doubt about it, we recognize it, we seek to it and we appreciate it much more than you can imagine – the guardian angels of Greece.
Best wishes to the Hellenic Air Force.
Best wishes to all.
Thank you for your presence”.