George Dilboy: the Decorated US Soldier who also Fought For Greece

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Georgios Dilvois (February 5, 1896 - July 18, 1918)

Born in Alatsata in Ionia, Asia Minor, George Dilboy as he was known in America, was a soldier who fought for Greece as well as a decorated soldier for the United States in the early 20th century.

In 1910, he emigrated to the US following his father, who had done so a couple of years earlier, settling in Somerville, Massachusetts.

At the outbreak of the Balkan Wars (1912-13), Dilvois rushed to Greece and volunteered to fight in the Greek Army, seeing action across Macedonia.

After returning to the US, at the outbreak of WW1 he again volunteered his services to the Greek military. While waiting for permission from the Greek Government, he stayed in Chios, where the rest of his family had fled to, during the persecution of the Greeks of Asia Minor / Anatolia (Greek Genocide 1914-23).

After a period of waiting in Chios, by 1916 he was back in America, where he enlisted in the US Army to fight in the Border War with Mexico. By 1917 he had arrived in France with the US 103rd infantry regiment during WW1. Georgios Dilvois fell heroically, dying on the 18th of July 1918. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the US’s highest & most prestigious personal military decoration.

At the request of his father, Dilvois was buried at his birthplace Alatsata, which in 1918 was still at that time a predominantly Greek city. After a funeral procession through the streets said to have been witnessed by 17,000 mourners his coffin was placed in the Greek Orthodox Church of Alatsata to lie in state before the high altar.

In 1922, Turks seized the town. The church was ransacked, and Dilvois’ grave was desecrated, coffin overturned, and his bones scattered by the marauding invaders.

US President Harding was outraged and sent a warship to recover the remains. Harding also demanded and received a formal apology from the Turkish government. Dilvois’ remains were transferred to the US, and he was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, where his gravestone proclaims his Medal of Honor status.

Monuments and stadiums carrying his name are in Massachusetts, while there are streets named after him in Athens.