Helias Doundoulakis
Helias "Louis" Doundoulakis
Helias Doundoulakis, 2012.JPG
Doundoulakis in 2012
Born Helias James Doundoulakis
(1923-07-12)12 July 1923
Canton, Ohio, USA
Died (2016-02-29)29 February 2016 (aged 92)
Freeport, N.Y.
Occupation Civil engineer, author, and soldier
Nationality American
Notable works I was Trained to be a Spy, Books I and II, My Unique Lifetime Association with Patrick Leigh Fermor, Trained to be an OSS Spy
Spouse Rita "Arete" Gianoplus

Helias Doundoulakis (July 12, 1923 - February 29, 2016) was a Greek American scientific innovator who patented the suspension system for the largest radio telescope in the world, and served in the United States Army as a spy for America's first intelligence agency, the OSS, or the Office of Strategic Services.[1]

Early Years

Helias "Louis" Doundoulakis was born in Canton, Ohio to Greek-immigrant parents. At the age of two, he and his family emigrated to Crete, Greece, where he grew up in Archanes, the site of the Minoan excavation at Knossos. While in his last year of high school, German paratroopers, the Fallschirmjäger, invaded Crete on May 20, 1941, after most of Greece had already fallen under the Axis powers.

World War II

The Battle of Crete lasted for ten days, after which Helias and his brother George joined the Cretan resistance. An underground organization was formed by George Doundoulakis, who recruited ex-military and Cretan civilians from the Heraklion and Lasithi regions of Crete, at the request of British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Christopher Montague Woodhouse.[2][3]

Working closely with "Monty" Woodhouse, Thomas James Dunbabin, and later Patrick Leigh Fermor, the underground organization supplied key information to the SOE.[4] Timely information obtained by this organization and delivered to Dunbabin led to the sinking of a large German convoy destined to re-supply the Afrika Korps of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in 1942.

After the war, George Doundoulakis was awarded the King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom from Great Britain for his service, and Captain Dunbabin was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. After a two-year involvement with the Cretan resistance, both Helias and George escaped to the south shore of Crete through the Psiloritis Mountains after their betrayal to the German Gestapo by a local Cretan, and were evacuated to Mersa Matruh, Egypt, on a British motor torpedo boat. This was accomplished at the request of SOE agent Patrick Leigh Fermor,[5][6][7] who would later be known for his role in the kidnap of General Kreipe from Crete.

Office of Strategic Services

Helias Doundoulakis was moved to an SOE villa in Heliopolis, Cairo. The Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, quickly learned of his two-year involvement with the Cretan resistance, and sent Captain James Kellis[8] to the SOE's Heliopolis villa, to recruit both Helias and George Doundoulakis.[4] The brothers enlisted in the United States Army on September 16, 1943, and joined the newly formed American spy service, the Office of Strategic Services or OSS.[9] His Commanding Officer was the famous industrial designer and architect, Major John Vassos. Helias Doundoulakis was trained in the arts of espionage at the Cairo 'Spy School' and was sent to the SOE's STS training facility 102 in Haifa, Palestine for commando and parachute training.[10] Upon completion of his training in March 1944, Vassos ordered Doundoulakis on a mission to Thessaloniki, Greece, where he sent encrypted radio messages to OSS Headquarters in Cairo from a factory once owned by Greek Jews, from April to December 1944. One message led to the destruction of a German troop train leaving Salonica's railroad station by a squadron of Allied B-25 bombers.[11] Constantly hunted by the Gestapo, Doundoulakis was never suspected of being an American spy -- eluding the Germans, and even the Greeks.

Post-war years

Upon completion of his duties in the U.S. Army, Helias Doundoulakis settled in Brooklyn, New York, receiving a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the City College of New York, and a master's degree in structural engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Doundoulakis worked for over 35 years as a civil engineer at Grumman Aerospace Corporation and on many notable projects, including the MetLife Building in New York City, the Apollo Space Missions, the Lunar Excursion Module, the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, and the Space Shuttle. His crowning achievement is his patent for a radio telescope, used in the design for the largest of its kind at the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico.[12][13][14][better source needed][15] Helias worked on this project with guidance from his brother George and long-time friends and business partners William J. Casey,[16][17] and Constantine Michalos, who were also assignees on the patent. During World War II, Casey had been appointed OSS chief for Secret Intelligence (SI) Europe by OSS Director General William J. Donovan. After the war, Casey held high-level executive positions under the Nixon administration, including Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chief. George Doundoulakis testified on Casey's behalf at the SEC Senate confirmation hearings.[18] Casey was also appointed to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as chief under President Reagan.

Death and Funeral

Doundoulakis died on February 29, 2016. He was buried next to his brother George in Greenfield Cemetery, Uniondale, NY, with military honors.



  • My Unique Lifetime Association with Patrick Leigh Fermor, 2015
  • Trained to be an OSS Spy, 2014
  • I was Trained to be a Spy - Book II, 2012
  • I was Trained to be a Spy, 2008
  • Anamnisis (Greek: ?), 2004


  1. ^ "Helias Doundoulakis". New York Times. Retrieved 2016. 
  2. ^ Beevor, A: Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, p. 278, Second Edition, Westview Press, 1994.
  3. ^ Kiriakopoulos, G: The Nazi Occupation of Crete 1941-1945, p. 190, Praeger Publishers, 1995.
  4. ^ a b Kiriakopoulos, G.C. (1995). The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 1941-1945. Praeger. p. 190. ISBN 9780275952778. Retrieved 2017. 
  5. ^ Doundoulakis, H: I Was Trained to be a Spy, p. 35, Xlibris, 2008.
  6. ^ Doundoulakis, H, Gafni, G: Trained to be an OSS Spy, p. 33, Xlibris, 2014.
  7. ^ Doundoulakis, H, Gafni, G: My Unique Lifetime Association with Patrick Leigh Fermor, p. 39, 2013.
  8. ^ Smith, R: OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency, p. 258, The Lyons Press, 2005.
  9. ^ "VIDEO: How to Lie for Your Life from World War II Spy School | Smithsonian Channel". smithsonianchannel.com. Retrieved 2017. 
  10. ^ Doundoulakis, H, Gafni, G: Trained to be an OSS Spy, Ch. 12: "Mastering the Descent" p. 105-111, Xlibris, 2014.
  11. ^ Doundoulakis, H, Gafni, G: Trained to be an OSS Spy, Ch. 23 "Departures" p. 219, Xlibris, 2014.
  12. ^ U.S. Patent Office
  13. ^ https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=US&NR=3273156&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP
  14. ^ Arecibo Observatory
  15. ^ "Arecibo Observatory". NAIC. Archived from the original on 8 May 2006. Retrieved 2017. 
  16. ^ Persico, J: Casey: From the OSS to the CIA, pp. 101, 107-108, 166-67, 513, First Edition, Viking Press, 1990.
  17. ^ Persico, J.E. (1990). Casey: From the OSS to the CIA. Viking. ISBN 9780670823420. Retrieved 2017. 
  18. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=wYNKAQAAIAAJ&q=george+doundoulakis+and+william+casey&dq=george+doundoulakis+and+william+casey&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX-rX0-evSAhXG7oMKHYz9D2AQ6AEIRDAJ
  19. ^ [1] Lamothe, Dan, Spy party: Tuxedos, martinis and some of the greatest heroes of World War II, Washington Post, November 9, 2015

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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