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"I had a difficult time saying something and not saying something." (Audio Interview, 42:30)

   Spiro George Cappony
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Spiro Cappony in Greece [March 1944]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Service Location: Great Lakes, Illinois; Virginia; Oran; Algeria; Turkey; Greece; Palestine
Rank: Petty Officer First Class
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It's not every recruit who gets interviewed for special service in the military by a Hollywood actor, but Spiro Cappony can claim that Sterling Hayden not only chatted him up for a position in the OSS but actually bunked with him during training exercises. The two men parted ways once they got abroad, Hayden to Italy and Yugoslavia, and Cappony to Turkey and Greece. The Turks were aiding Germany with ore shipments, and it was the job of OSS operatives like Cappony, who spoke fluent Greek, to enlist guerrilla fighters to prevent those shipments. Cappony had to watch his back; some of his supposed Greek allies might be collaborators.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (13 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (43 min.)
»Photo Album  (76 photos)
 Official Documents
»View List (10 items)
 Personal Correspondence
»View List (3 items)
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»Intel:In Harm's Way
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (13 items)
Singled out for intelligence because of his Greek language skills. (01:09) Instead of being punished for being late for guard duty, selected for the OSS. (01:27) Meeting movie star Sterling Hayden, who went by Captain John Hamilton while he served with the OSS; he selected Cappony for his team. (00:15)
Forming a strong bond with Hayden during their OSS training at Area C in Virginia. (01:21) Cappony and two others posing as Greek civilians and making their way to Istanbul. (01:19) Cappony's family, having not heard from him for nine months, asking the Red Cross to help locate him. (00:29)
Monitoring pro-Axis Turkey's shipment of chromium to Germany. (00:26) The British, having failed the Greek guerillas, supplanted by Cappony and his team. (00:50) Turkish guides informing on them; Cappony and others had to make their own way into Greece. (02:47)
In anticipation of a civil war, Greek guerillas interested in obtaining weapons in exchange for help blowing up bridges. (01:01) After blowing up a bridge in Bulgaria, discovering letters from an Axis spy in the British embassy in Ankara. (00:46) Treated by a local doctor after being shot; discovering that the doctor's sister lived next door to his mother in Gary, Indiana. (01:39)
Still unable to discuss his work after the war, because operatives were still working in Greece. (00:34)  
 Official Documents (10 items)
Citation for Bronze Star Medal [May 1944] Copy of passport pages from 1944 First draft of memo to Captain James Kellis describing operations in which Cappony participated [11/1944]
Copy of Cappony's Turkish passport from 1944 Certificate presented to Cappony by Senator Richard Lugar's office Report of the Evros Mission and Final Report of the Evros Mission by Captain G. L. Kellis, Air Corps, from the OSS archives
Letter from E. J. Athens, Lt. (jg) USNR, certifying that Cappony was wounded in action on August 2, 1944 [12/15/1944] Letter from Lt. (jg) E. J. Athens to Major Charles J. Eubank [1/26/1945] Letter from Major Charles J. Eubank to Naval Command [2/5/1945]
Letter from the CIA Personnel Chief to Spiro Cappony, inviting him to fill out an application [3/1/1948]  
 Personal Correspondence (3 items)
Letter to Mrs. Stella Cappony from Percy S. Wood, Lt. USNR [8/24/1944] Email from Spiro Cappony to unidentified recipients [2/29/2004] Letter with photograph from Thomas M. Carlin, Colonel, U.S. Army [1/29/1997]

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  October 26, 2011
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