Some of us often wonder how we would behave when confronted with hostile situations. Would we stand and fight? Would we run away? Would we even go to the extent to sacrifice our own lives to help or save another? Well, I was really touched by the story of Diogenis Fanourakis (Διογένης Φανουράκης in Greek). Please read on and learn about this amazing man and the events that took place which make this soldier a true hero.
Diogenis Fanourakis – A Hero Of Halki
Born in 1914, Diogenis Fanourakis spent most of his childhood in his birthplace on the island of Halki (sometimes seen spelled as Chalki). This is a small islet just off the South West Coast of Rhodes. If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I recommend it. It is a very beautiful place.
From 1934, he went to serve in the Greek Military. He carried out his initial duties at the Evelpidon Hellenic Military Academy for Officers South East Of Athens. The word ‘Evelpidon’ is taken from the Greek word ‘Evelpides’ which means “bearers of high hopes’. From here he graduated in 1936 and held the rank of Lieutenant.
After graduation, he went on to fight in The Greek-Italian war in locations Pogradec (Central Albania) 1940 and Morava 1940-41.
After the Italian Forces had taken control of The Dodecanese Islands he also went on to fight in The Middle East.
He was also assigned to the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which was a team dedicated to gathering information intelligence by spying on the enemy and their locations.
Dedication To His Birthplace And Its Residents
During his service, Fanourakis also put himself forward and volunteered for missions in the Asian Minor which was very close to the island of Rhodes and his home.
He was able to visit his home in Halki and he went on to set about helping those people that were in need during war time. He brought in medicines, food and supplies to assist despite the risk to himself.
It was only a matter of time until the German Forces became suspicious of his activities though. They went on to the shores where Fanourakis would come and go with the intention of catching him in the act.
Despite their attempts, Fanourakis was able to avoid capture and took refuge in an old derelict house.
The Actions Of A Hero
Naturally, the Germans were furious that they were unable to catch Fanourakis and capture him for his actions. In retaliation, they went to the village square and took a hold of 10 innocent civilians. All the rest of the residents were also gathered in the square.
The 10 civilian men were threatened with execution in the attempt to lure Fanourakis. Should he have failed to show, death to them would have followed.
Of course, Fanourakis was obligated. He was after all trying to help the very people who were in this now awful situation. He surrendered, with very heroic actions.
He shot one bullet into the air, then followed by shooting one German soldier. He did this to stop the executions that were about to take place. He also received one bullet to the chest which injured him, but then he took one of his own hand grenades, fell purposely on top of it and took his own life.
Preventing the execution of many people in exchange for your own life is indeed a heroic act, and the German Officer present saw this too.
The Officer ordered the body of Fanourakis to be brought to the center of the town square. There, the officer saluted him and with full appreciation and recognition said ‘It is only with Soldiers such as this man, that a war can be won’. He then set free all the residents of the town and released the body of Diogenis Fanourakis for his funeral.
After the death of Diogenis Fanourakis, Greece also awarded him the rank of Major along with The Golden Medal Of Bravery and The Medal For Honorable Actions.
To serve your people and offer your life to protect has to be one of the most heroic acts someone can undertake. At just 32 years of age, Diogenis Fanourakis gave his life in an act of bravery and courage which should never be forgotten. He was the first Greek officer to be killed in The Dodecanese.
I think a lot of us would like to think we have this kind of commitment and should we be challenged in this way we would do what is best. People such as this, along with others I am talking about during this section such as Maria Malandri, Pierre d’ Aubusson and others have all stood tall in hard times.
I am not sure I would be able to, even though I do not see myself as a coward. Would you?
This is certainly a man that has got my attention while looking into the history of the island. I have full respect for him.
What are your thoughts on this man? I would love to hear what you think. Please leave me a comment below, Your opinions and thoughts are always important to me.