By Teddy Savalas
My brother, Constantine “Gus” Socrates Savalas, can look back proudly at his long life. Now at 96, I want to tell America about him and all the wonderful veterans like him who have made our country great and safe. I am submitting an article about him to honor him and all the veterans as we approach Dec. 7, the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, a “Day of Infamy,” as described by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.
Gus is a survivor of Pearl Harbor and the sinking of his ship the USS Astoria in the battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.
He later became a belly gunner on a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, whose losses were huge while flying low to destroy Japanese war ships and miraculously survived that battle, too, and many others. He later went to Grumman Aircraft on Long Island through a special leave to a huge gathering of assembly workers to sing the “Lord’s Prayer.” Newsday reported that “there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen”.
After the war, Gus continued in his service to his country by becoming a government service employee at the Mitchell Field United States Air Force base in Hempstead.
That was followed by his service for the government’s Voice of America, broadcasting America’s image beyond the Iron Curtain.
Having all that service to his country behind him, he could have stopped. But Gus’ desire and determination to continue service for his beloved country saw him go on to becoming a state department officer with the United States Information Agency, an agency that spreads the good word about America.
Who could have served that office better than Gus?
Gus was born to sing and that gift helped him when he sang to peoples of the various countries he was assigned to such as Libya, Lebanon, Greece, and parts of Africa.
Never resting from his lifelong devotion, he still, at his advanced age, wanted to help his country. I suggested, with my help, to gather money from a wonderful CD of his songs that he recorded at age 90 and contribute the money to our veterans. I told him that this would be his final and noble tribute to the country he has served so honorably.
Editor’s note: Teddy Savala is a 56-year resident of Huntington.