Among this year’s honorees was Steve Pisanos, a WWII, Korea and Vietnam War Veteran who posthumously received the inaugural “Calamos Service Award.”
Known as “The Flying Greek,” Pisanos, who was born in Athens in 1919, had a distinguished career serving in all three wars. He served in both the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force during the Second World War and became the first person naturalized as a US citizen while on foreign soil.
He continued his service in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War and retired from service in 1974, having earned thirty-three decorations and distinctions.
John P. Calamos, Sr., Chairman of Calamos Investments, also a decorated Vietnam veteran, presented the award during the ceremony.
“I can think of no better first recipient of the first Calamos Service Award than the ‘Flying Greek’,” Calamos said.
“He and I shared a proud history as Air Force pilots and recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross,” he added.
“The story of Steve Pisanos is an outstanding example of the Greek-American story. It’s about hard work, wanting more for yourself and your family and an unwavering commitment to our country.
“His distinguished career remains a symbol of both the tradition of Hellenic bravery and service exemplified by OXI Day and the rich history of Greek American service to the United States,” he noted.
Calamos, who is also the Chairman of Chicago’s Hellenic Museum, co-sponsored a short film about the life of Pisanos called the “Mettle Behind the Merit,” as a tribute to the “Flying Greek.”
In 2019 he himself was honored by Washington’s OXI Day Foundation, receiving the 2019 Michael Jaharis Service Award for his heroic service in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.
This year’s honorees of Washington’s OXI Day Foundation included Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights icon (posthumously); the Wuhan whistleblower doctors who risked and gave their lives fighting COVID and Chinese suppression; Dr. Joseph Costa, who gave his life fighting COVID; and Andrew Mousalimas, a WWII Veteran (posthumously).
Watch the 10th Annual OXI Courage and Service Awards ceremony below: