The funeral service for Greek shipowner and World War II veteran, Iakovos Tsounis was held on Monday.
The President of the Hellenic Republic was represented by the Director of the Military Office, Rear Admiral Efthymios Mikros and the Prime Minister by Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros.
The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the Deputy Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis and the Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis, amongst others.
"The name of the late Iakovos Tsounis has now been indelibly written in golden letters next to the other names of the great Greek benefactors who have passed into our glorious history. Greece, mourning and grateful and at the same time proud, bows its head with the utmost respect and bids you farewell... I express my deepest and most sincere gratitude to you. The legacy you leave behind is huge...Your immortal memory will illuminate the path we must walk, in order to keep Greece great, dignified and proud, just like you had it in your heart," said General Konstantinos Floros.
On his part, Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that "certainly from today Greece is much poorer, when a great patriot leaves every time... The patriotism of the man was proved not only by his offer but from the fact that he was the youngest warrior of the Albanian Front. Therefore, from the age of 16 this man has been fighting for Greece."
"With the last great act of offering he made, the Armed Forces will be further strengthened and will continue to carry out its mission in full, defending our sovereign rights and national rights. People like Iakovos Tsounis should never be forgotten. And they will never be forgotten," he added.
Who is Iakovos Tsounis?
Tsounis was born in June 1924 in Patras, western Greece. When Italy invaded Greece on Oct. 28, 1940, the 16-year-old convinced a colonel billeted in his family’s home to enlist him, even though he was underage.
After leaving the Army in 1949, he obtained a license as an assistant customs broker, filling customs clearance applications in the port of Piraeus for a small fee. Eventually, he got into dismantling ships and selling their parts to the steel industry, while also supplying ships with provisions. One of his clients, Aristotle Onassis, whom he met by chance on the island of Skorpios while supplying provisions for the shipping magnate’s yacht, Christina, convinced him his future lay in shipping.
Starting small in 1960, with a small commercial vessel of 1,000 tons for domestic routes, in less than 10 years he had a fleet of 13 ships, including a 35,000-ton tanker. At the same time, he expanded into the real estate business in Los Angeles, London, Spain and elsewhere.
By 2008, Tsounis, who had already started his charitable activity in the 1960s, had sold his ships.
He had donated large sums to hospitals, churches and museums, among other institutions. But by far his largest contribution has been to Greece’s armed forces, for whom, as a patriot, he always felt deeply.