American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Noon Forum the Battle of Crete with Guest Speaker Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris, Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C.
June 5, 2009—No. 46 (202) 785-8430

AHI Noon Forum the Battle of Crete with Guest Speaker Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris, Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON, DC—On May 28, 2009 the American Hellenic Institute hosted a Noon Forum at the Hellenic House commemorating the Battle of Crete, featuring guest speaker Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris, Defense Attaché of the Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C.

The topic of Brigadier General Leontaris’s presentation was WWII and The Battle of Crete from May 20-30, 1941. Brigadier General Leontaris explained in detail the geostrategic context of Crete, the historical and political context of WWII before the German invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, the role of Great Britain in Crete, the Germany attack of Crete, the strategic impact of the battle for Greece and Crete, and the importance of the battle of Crete regarding the outcome of WWII.

The presentation came to a close with Brigadier General Leontaris reading quotes from world leaders regarding the heroism and importance of the Greeks and the their defiance of Hitler’s Nazi Army.

“The word heroism I am afraid does not render the least of those acts of self-sacrifice of the Greeks, which were the defining factor in the victorious outcome of the common struggle of the nations, during WWII, for the human freedom and dignity. If it were not for the bravery of the Greeks and their courage, the outcome of WW II would be undetermined.” - Winston Churchill (speech to British Parliament, 24 April 1941).

“If the Russian people managed to raise resistance at the doors of Moscow to halt and reverse the German torrent, they owe it to the Greek People, who delayed the German divisions during the time they could bring us to our knees.” - Georgy Constantinovich Zhoukov (Field Marshal of the Soviet Army: Quote from his memoirs on WWII).

Brigadier General Leontaris graduated from the Hellenic Military Academy in 1981. He began his career as Platoon Leader and in continuation fulfilled a number of command and staff appointments in Infantry Units and formations, including posts in the Hellenic Force in Cyprus and the Greek Army Military Police. He commanded the 566 Mechanized Infantry Battallion and served as Staff officer at 98th Infantry Division and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, dealing with NATO and International Training issues. General Leontaris has been assigned chief positions within the framework of NATO, including the NATO- led operations in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kosovo and FYROM.  In 2003, he assumed a lead Coordinator role in the NATO HQs, managing all issues concerning the evaluation of Greece’s fully operational capability within the NATO alliance. In 2006 he was made a Colonel and in the same year, he was appointed as the Defense Attaché at the Greek Embassy in Washington D.C. Most recently, in March 2009, General Leontaris, was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned as Director, Doctrine Directorate at the Hellenic Army General Staff. General Leontaris, holds a Masters Degree in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies and has completed multiple courses both in Greece but also in prominent US Military Academies.He has been decorated with multiple distinctions among which are the following: Medal for Military Valour C and B class, Golden Cross of the Order of Phoenix, Army Meritorious Command Commendation Medal, B Class and numerous medals for his outstanding service at NATO in their operations in FYROM and Kosovo. Apart from being a truly devoted patriot, General Leontaris is also an exemplifying father figure. He is married to Sonia Chitzou and has two children who are both college students at prominent Universities in Greece.


Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris presenting on the Battle of Crete



Click here for attachment of Brigadier General Leontaris’s remarks (276KB PDF).



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