A photo 24 years after the Imia crisis between Greece & Turkey and a message sent during those difficult hours document the critical situation that was evolving as well as the morale of the Hellenic Armed Forces, moments before what seemed it would be an all-out war with Turkey.
The document is the message sent from the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff to the Greek Fleet.
The message is signed by the Vice-Admiral Ioannis Stagkas and it encapsulates the determination of the military personnel and the tension of those moments. It is proof that the country was prepared for total war and it shows us how close we really came to that.
The message reads:
“I am absolutely certain that if needed all of you will prove to be worthy of the glorious history of the Hellenic Navy.
Good luck and may God be with you”
The photo is from inside the 345 Bomber Sq. and shows A-7H Corsair pilots after the briefing of the real missions they were about to undertake in minute’s notice at the night of the Imia Crisis.
In the picture, we can see the pilot’s morale as they are smiling with their guns in their hands. Behind them, a trained eye can just notice a few indicative details that hind of one of their operational objectives…
The government in Athens, however, did not have what it takes to protect the Greek sovereign rights as they should…
The Imia Crisis (Kardak for the Turks) lasted a couple of days, but it still haunts both countries, especially Greece as three officers of the Hellenic Navy (Christodoulos Karathanasis, Panagiotis Vlahakos, Ektoras Gialopsos) lost their lives in the line of duty on January 31st 1996, when their helicopter (ΠN21), crashed into the sea during a low-level night reconnaissance mission, under extreme weather conditions, far beyond the operational envelope of their AB-212ASW.
Turkey, despite the legal proofs widely available, disputes the two small Greek islets even today.