Greece Remembers Hero Pilot Who Died Defending Country’s Skies

Konstantinos Iliakis

It was 13 years ago today that the name of Konstantinos Iliakis joined those of Greek military personnel over the years who fell in the line of duty while protecting the country.

It was 23 May 2006 when the 35-year-old Hellenic Air Force pilot lost his life as his plane crashed on Karpathos island in the Dodecanese.

He had been trying to intercept Turkish fighter jets which had entered Greek airspace over the Aegean.

Shortly after the remains of his crashed F-16 were found suspicions were raised that the Turkish pilot may have shot Iliakis down. The suspicions, however, were never confirmed.

The dead pilot, a father of two young children, was of Cretan origin, from Kastello, Rethymnon.

On 28 Dec. 2006, the Academy of Athens posthumously awarded the Hellenic Air Force hero with a medal for his self-sacrifice.

On 20 May the following year, a statue of Iliakis was unveiled in Akrotiri of Agios Mattheos, Chania.

Shockingly, the bronze statue was stolen on 2 Dec. 2012 but was eventually returned by the 18-year-old perpetrator who had claimed he took it for scrap because of poverty.