DOCUMENTING & PRESERVING FOR POSTERITY,
IN AN EVERLASTING MANNER, THE CONTRIBUTION OF
HELLENIC DESCENDANTS TO THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM































































































 

The valiant members of

Co. C 2671 SPECIAL RECONNAISSANCE
BATTALION aka Greek/United States
 Operational Group
Are Deserving Of Honor
They contributed to the Allied victory in Europe And the liberation of Greece
 
 1943 TO 1945

 
 

 
The genesis of Co. 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion was the 122nd Infantry Battalion, aka Greek Battalion,
founded in January 1943 by an executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Presumably they would eventual
deploy in Greece, then occupied by Nazi German forces. It was named the 122nd Infantry Battalion to mark one
hundred and twenty two years of Greek independence from Ottoman subjugation. Comprised of a mixture of native
born Greeks in their late twenties, and younger Greek-American sons in their teens from Emigrant families across the
U.S.A.; these men of Greek blood but different cultures bonded quickly.
 

            August, 1943, the Greek Battalion had completed seven grueling months of infantry
training at Camp Carson, Colorado under the superb leadership of the first Greek born West
Point graduate, Major Peter Clainos of Manchester, New Hampshire, when three officers of
the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) arrived at Camp Carson. The OSS officers asked
for volunteers to join guerrilla forces in Greece and Yugoslavia; they promised the volunteers
it would be hazardous duty, and to expect a large casualty rate. It was required that the men
spoke Greek and were in excellent physical condition for commando/parachute training.
According to Colonel Clainos the full battalion volunteered, the OSS initially asked for 15
volunteers but after reviewing the troops they revised their total to 160.*

Unfortunately the Greek Battalion was disbanded.

             The volunteers were sent to two secret camps deeply isolated within Maryland, where
they received extensive training in guerrilla warfare from veterans of the French Resistance,
the British Commandos and OSS Officers. In Maryland Major Peter D. Clainos was promoted
to Lieutenant Colonel and transferred to the 81st Division in the Pacific, his rank was too high
to lead a small unit. In the battle of Pelilu Island Colonel Clainos, as a regimental commander,
was awarded America�s second highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross.  Every veteran
of the Greek/USOG credits Colonel Clainos� arduous training for their excellent war record and
low casualty rate. 

            Lieutenant Robert F. Houlihan of Lexington KY, another outstanding officer, and one of
four non Greek Officers in the unit, succeeded Colonel Clainos as the commanding officer of
the budding commandos. Lieutenant Houlihan reckoned his study of the Greek classics in
college and his respect for the ethos of Greek culture elevated him to this position. It didn�t take
long for him to obtain a captaincy.           

            Departing from Brindisi, Italy, at various times in 1944, the six groups of Co. C parachuted
or landed amphibiously behind enemy lines in different parts of Greece; they joined the
Antartes (guerrillas) and British RSR where they disrupted the withdrawal of Nazi troops
from Greece. 

            Not only were the USOGs the best kept secret in America, but with few exceptions, very
few Greeks know that Americans fought in Greece in WWII. Their excellent record, which had
been sealed by the CIA until 1988, can be found in the National Archives in Washington D.C.

 The six Co. C groups operated autonomously in Greece.      

Following is an excerpt from the files of the National Archives:                       

1.   General

                        During a period of 219 days from 23 April until 20 November 1944, troops of
Co. C., 2671 Special Reconnaissance Battalion were continuously in occupied Greece.
The type of warfare they engaged in was unique in the history of the American Army. 
The record they made is of some interest and bears close examination.

 

                        The table of statistics at the beginning of this record shows a large toll taken in enemy
personnel, communication, and material. It is appropriate at this point to make it clear that much of
this destruction was accomplished in conjunction with British Raider Support Regiment detachments
and Greek Antartes working in concert. To say that the Operational Groups alone are responsible for
all the results shown would not be fair; on the other hand, the Operational Groups were the close
assault troops in nearly all of these actions.  The Antartes, lacking in any real military training, were
usually a doubtful quantity, and it can be stated without fear of contradiction that the Americans were
an inspiration to them to carry out assaults they would not otherwise complete.  The British RSR
detachments, with their mortars and machine guns, were highly skilled and tremendously effective in
the support of the Operational Groups and Antartes. And were likewise a fine example of aggressive
and competent soldiering.

 

2. Results of Operations

  Enemy Casualties:

           The number of the enemy killed and wounded has been estimated at 2,000. 
This appears to be a great number of casualties to be inflicted by such small a
number of men, especially when it is considered that American casualties were
extremely light by comparison.  .

 

            National archives                           SECRET

         

            The members of the Greek/ USOG were heroes in every sense of the word; their actions went
above and beyond the call of duty. Never before or since in the history of America Armed Services has
there been a Greek American Unit.  This group fought courageously and served America and Greece
with honor and distinction. In 1993 at Fort Bragg, NC the Ethnic Operational groups (French, Greek,
Italian, Norwegian and Yugoslavian) were honored as the grandfathers of the elite Special Forces
(Green Berets).

 

    The Greek/USOG accomplishments are not only a vital part of the history of WWII, but also of Modern
Greek history and a rich chapter in Greek America. It is important that the Greek/USOG�s story is known
and preserved for future generations in both America and Greece. If this story is not told, an inspiring part of
our Greek American history will be lost forever.

 

     To commemorate the heroic accomplishments of the Operational Group, and finally give its
members the recognition they deserve, the Project Committee plans on placing a bronze statue on a
marble base in Athens, Greece. These men valiantly continued the tradition of courage that has long
been part of our Hellenic history. It is up to us to continue another Hellenic tradition, to immortalize our
heroes by erecting a lasting tribute in their honor.

 

 

 

Epilogue         

 

            The Greek/USOG was disbanded in December 1944. The men, who were physically able, were
transferred to various front line units: the Italian/American Group in Northern Italy, the 82nd and 17th
Airborne Divisions in Germany, or the French/American Group in China.

                                                                        +++++++ 

            *1991-92 the author videotaped 10 hours of Colonel Clainos� Greek Battalion memoirs in his
San Francisco home.