Armed Forces Activities

09/01/2018 19:09:43

MOD's Political and Military leadership at the handover ceremony of identified remains of Greeks fallen at the patrol boat

    The Minister of National Defence Panos Kammenos, the Alternate Minister of National Defence Dimitris Vitsas, the Chief HNDGS Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis HN, the Chief HNGS Rear Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis HN, the Chief HAFGS Lieutenant General Christos Christodoulou and the Special Secretary of the Ministry of National Defence Kalliope Papaleonidas attended the handover ceremony of the identified remains of the Greeks fallen at the patrol boat “PHAETHON”.

    During his speech, the Minister of National Defence said the following:

    “Today we have a sacred and national meeting at the church of Saint Demetrios, in order to receive the remains of our brothers, who lost their lives during the battles at the area of Tillyria in 1964.  

    A cycle of duty closes for the heroes of the patrol boat “PHAETHON”, after 54 years, with the long due apology from the state and society to the heroes, the survivors, the captain of the ship, and their relatives. An obligation we assumed after taking office, as ordered by the Prime Minister, was to declassify the file on the case of “PHAETHON” which was “top secret” and stop considering the heroes as “non existent”.  

    We assumed the duty of honouring those who fell defending their faith and their country, along with the heroes of ’74, since they all fell in the line of duty, fighting for the Flag and the Cross, and repatriate them to Greece.  

    We receive the heroes who gave their own life to protect our fellow countrymen, the Cypriots, and we pay homage to the combatants who carried out their sacred duty of defending the Democracy of Cyprus’ integrity, with the highest sacrifice.

    They proved that Cyprus is not far away.

    They will now rest in peace in their birthplace.

    The boat’s captain, Dimitrios Mitsatsos, sub Lieutenant at that time, and the crew on patrol boat “PHAETHON” were young men who loved their country.

    Within the swirl and the upcoming disaster, our seamen, raised with the ideals of our glorious history, run up to the Nation’s call.

    Nobody abandoned the ship, or their captain, despite his warnings.

    The captain was the last to fall in the sea.

    They resisted strongly; they stood in the line of duty and taught heroism, emphasizing the Greek spirit’s greatness.

    The heroes were on a national mission, ordered by the Hellenic Navy and the Hellenic Government.

    The heroes we receive were following orders by the Hellenic State.

    Dear relatives and fellow combatants of the fallen heroes,

    Your relatives’ short presence in this world was uniquely completed with their sacrifice.

    Our ancient fathers said “For life’s measure is its beauty not its length”.

    This is why you should feel proud of your relatives; just like all Greeks are proud of them.

    I express my respect to you, as well as to Lieutenant Commander Fragkos Dimitrios and Ensign Kagialaris Michail, survivors of the famous crew, who honour us with your presence today.  

    I would like to assure you, acknowledging the agony, the pain and the wrath you experienced throughout the past years, that we will carry on the struggle of finding and identifying the remains of all the fallen heroes on Cypriot territory, putting an end to unjustified omissions by the state.

    For me personally, for Dimitris Vitsas, for the Ministry of National Defence, for the Greek Government by order of the Prime Minister, for the Chiefs, for all Officers, NCOs, Conscripts and National Guards, honouring our heroes, who gave their blood and last breath for an idea, for Greece and for the Nation, is a priority. The path is long.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Valuing the extent of our heroes’ offer and sacrifice, we are invited to consider our own duty. Every loss has its own symbolism, its own moral radiance that sustains the flame of justice and right, the aspect of love to the country, thanks to which we are all free today.

    We are invited to make the most of this glorious heritage, the national command we were given and that was crowned by heroic struggles and sacrifices.

    We are invited to promise once again that we will not accept sales to our Nation’s rights, which have been consolidated by International Law and International Treaties.

    Greece will always stand firm by Cyprus’ side, as a stable supporter of the Cypriot people. Cyprus’ security is our own security as well. We uncomplainingly assume this national duty.

    We keep on fighting for justification, when Kerynia, Ammohostos, Morfou and Pentadaktylos will send the much desired message that Cyprus is free and independent once again. When we will officiate in the church of Apostolos Andreas, the Cyprus issue will be resolved.  

    Lieutenant Commander Agathos Spyridon,
    Lieutenant Commander Panagos Nikolaos,
    Lieutenant Chrissoulis Panaghiotis,
    Warrant Officer Theodoratos Panagis,
    Warrant Officer Kapadoukas Nikolaos,

    Words are not enough to outline your offer to us all.

    We are thankful and we bow before your heroic figures; the ardour of your heroism will remain unquenchable in our souls.

    We will perform our duty and we apologize for all the years that have passed by.

    You will remain immortal”.

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