George Pavlakis Obituary
George Pavlakis, Lt Col, USAF (Retired), Age 102, passed away on March 27 2023 at St. Joseph’s Place, Leawood, Kansas. A private service and burial will be held at Leavenworth National Cemetery at 11am Tuesday, April 4th.
He was born in his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts on July 7, 1920, son of the late Nicholas and Pauline Pavlakis. Educated in the Haverhill school system, he attended The Wingate School and the Tilton School and then graduated from Haverhill High School in 1938. He was an excellent student and he helped get his family through the Great Depression by working odd jobs and scrounging. After high school he made wooden shoe heels for the Kamen Wood Heel Company. He enjoyed going to visiting air shows and saw how biplane pilots soared in the sky and how they went about their business. He was very impressed and it spawned in him a genuine interest in the growing field of aviation.
With the advent of World War II and the U.S. Army Air Corps needing thousands of new officer pilots, and in a hurry to get them, a college degree was no longer necessary to get into pilot training. He applied, was accepted and completed his aviation cadet and initial pilot training on August 30, 1943 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S Army Air Corps Reserve on the same day. Next he completed co-pilot training on the B-24 Liberator bomber and departed the U.S. on his own B-24 bomber on November 28, 1943 bound for Talergma, Algeria where his unit got organized and trained.
His B-24 unit was the 724th Bomb Squadron of the 451st Bomb Group and his crew named their B-24 the “Shehasta”. Eventually flying from several bases in Italy he completed 35 combat missions bombing such targets as Anzio and Monte Cassino in Italy and other targets in Germany, Austria, Rumania, Yugoslavia, France, Bulgaria and Albania. During this time he also became an ardent supporter of the Tuskegee Airmen.
After his service in the European theater he was promoted to First Lieutenant and returned
to the U.S and received training in the C-54 transport aircraft as well as instructor pilot training,
and then assigned to Hamilton Field, California where he flew missions in support of the
Pacific theater of operations. One mission was to fly U.S. prisoners of war out of Japan after
In 1946 he was promoted to Captain and received his Command Pilot rating. Around this time he was returning to Hamilton Field in California after an east coast flight, and made a stop in Denver CO where he met the love of his life, Annagene (“Ann”) Elendra Pinto. They soon married and started raising two sons, George and Gregory during the remainder of his 21 years of active duty. He flew in the Berlin Airlift – a source of great pride and satisfaction, supported the Korean war theater of operations, and stood watch during the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis at RAF – Prestwick air base in Scotland with his wife and sons. While stationed at Prestwick, Scotland he escorted Charles Lindberg and his wife on a base tour.
He retired with the rank of Major in 1963, but was soon promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF Ready Reserve. Among his decorations and ribbons are an Air Medal with a Silver Clasp, Air Force Commendation Medal, European - Africa – Middle East Campaign Ribbon, Asiatic – Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and The Medal for Humane Action, with a Berlin Airlift Device.
After retiring he relocated his family to Laurel, Maryland where he completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland. He graduated with high honors and was elected into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society in April 1964. He completed his degree in one year because he accrued nearly three years worth of credit from the College of Great Falls, Montana; Trenton State College, New Jersey; and the University of Maryland overseas branch in Scotland.
He also earned education credits to qualify as a high school teacher in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He started out as a sociology teacher at High Point High School, but soon became commander of one of the first Air Force Junior ROTC programs in the country at Oxon Hill High School. He loved his cadets and by all accounts they loved him.
Then in his spare time he started building a beach house in Ocean City, Maryland. He soon completed the beach house and after several years of world travel he and Ann retired in Overland Park, Kansas in order to be near his oldest son George and his family. He traveled with Ann and his sons throughout the Midwest and East Coast and did a terrific job as a caregiver for Ann for several years prior to her death in 2014.
His passions were his wife, sons, grandson, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. He also loved opera and Broadway music, and his singing voice could often be heard resounding in his homes. Music from “South Pacific”, particularly “Some Enchanted Evening” was his favorite, and it was Ann who called him from across a crowded room. A life of service and family well lived.
He is survived by or he leaves his two sons, George N. Pavlakis of Overland Park KS and Gregory S. Pavlakis (Col. USAF Retired) of Leawood KS, wife of George N. Pavlakis, Susan S. Pavlakis (deceased), his brother, James Pavlakis of Oro Valley, AZ, a grandson, Gregory A. Pavlakis of Overland Park KS, and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Annagene, his parents, his sisters Beatrice Francescone, Liberty Pavlakis, Joan Pavlakis, and Anastasia Economides, and his brothers Charles Pavlakis, Peter Pavlakis, Christopher Pavlakis, and Theodore Pavlakis.