A Common Hero


John Vassiliou, Staff Writer

On December 7, 1941, at precisely 7:48 in the morning, Hawaii-Aleutian standard time, Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Naval and Army installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, effectively pulling the United States into the Second World War, a conflict almost all of our grandparents, great-grandparents, or even great-great-grandparents took part in.

Seventy four years ago to this day, my great grandfather was training down at Walker Army Airfield. He had already enlisted in 1940 and his tour was completed. He could have gone home and not been sent overseas, but there was still a job to be done.

In two months he would be shipped out to reach what would be known later as the China-Burma-India Campaign. On February 12th, my great grandfather would begin his journey overseas, one that many brave servicemen like him would never complete, to find foreign shores and fight tyranny wherever it may lie. Like many in his time, my “Big Pop”, whose real name was James John Hagianis, kept a journal of his travels. He documented things like the weather, all the way to the conditions below decks, and the jubilance that he felt when allowed above the musty bunks below.

After discovering his journal for the first time, I felt a connection with my Big Pop, a man who I never met, as he died the same year of my birth. Realizing the significance of what was in his journal, I wanted to share the same feeling with you, so that you may also understand the daily events that other serviceman in the second World War would have gone through, and how their memories and experiences can be forever solidified in writing.

These articles, which will begin to be released in late January, will be presented in chronological order in accordance with what is logged in his journal, along with information on the war in general, its impact on my Big Pop and his campaign movements, and the impact on the overall war.

This journal includes his stops in Egypt, India, and places throughout the Pacific, along with his bomber command, unit, citations, and bases of operation along with a hint to the end of the war and his reflection looking back.

My Big Pop first used this journal while attending the University of Alabama, and he used it mainly to record football game schedules. For whatever reason though, these entries only fill up a few pages in the front, the upside to this however being that the abundance of page space was the reason that my Big Pop used this journal to record his voyage overseas, in turn, giving a great passage of time which would have otherwise been forgotten. The journal itself is a small leather-bound one, barely holding itself together with its tired strings. But in it is a trove of information which will forever be solidified here.

This series of events that I’m going to share with you is dedicated to all of the brave servicemen and women, including my great-grandparents and very likely yours, who participated in the greatest armed conflict in human history.