Hero of the Aegean Who Saved Thousands of Lives Dies at 44



Kyriakos Papadopoulos saving children in 2015

Kyriakos Papadopoulos, the 44-years-old lieutenant of the Hellenic Coast Guard, who became globally known for his tireless efforts to save thousands of refugees in the Aegean Sea during the refugee crisis of 2015-16, has died unexpectedly from a heart attack.

Papadopoulos enlisted in the Hellenic Coast Guard in 1999, when he was 25 years old.

After spending two years on the Greek seas, he decided to go back and live a quiet life on his island, Lesvos.

He couldn’t imagine that some years later, he would become the angel guard of thousands of children, women and men who were trying to escape the hell of Syria’s war and find rescue in Europe’s shores.

A member of a family of refugees himself, Papadopoulos’ roots go back to Asia Minor’s Nikomedia.

A father of two and a devoted professional, Papadopoulos had met with Werner Faymann, the former Chancellor of Austria and the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in 2016.

When asked about the number of people he had saved, Papadopoulos said ”more than 5,000.” Faymann thought he said five and told him that ”five lives is something very important.” When people told him that Papadopoulos said 5,000 and not 5, the Chancellor, in a state of absolute surprise said ”you are a real hero.”

Honored by Greece’s Academy of Athens and the Greek authorities, Papadopoulos was even a nominee for an Oscar after the film ”4.1 miles” was nominated for an Academy Award. Watch the film below: