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Pete Kavadas

Courtesy Pete Kavadas (nephew)

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Pete Kavadas
1921-1944

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Winston S. Churchill

U.S. Army Private First Class Pete Kavadas was born on September 25, 1921, in Follansbee, West Virginia, to George Kavadas and Mary Kohelis Kavadas. Pete’s parents emigrated from Greece in the early 20th century. He had a younger brother named Mike Kavadas. Before the war, Pete worked at the coke plant in Wheeling, West Virginia, that was run by the Wheeling Steel Corporation. He also worked at some time for the Timken Roller Bearing Company in Canton, Ohio. Prior to entering the workforce, he attended high school at Follansbee High School, where he received his high school diploma before leaving for war. He was a member of The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Steubenville, Ohio, which most likely was the Greek church closest to his home.

Pete Kavadas registered for the draft on October 13, 1942, in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Kavadas originally did not think that his draft number would be called. To his surprise, he was later called up in the draft that had been instated by President Roosevelt. Before he was sent to war, Pete told his brother Mike that he did not expect to come back from the war. Pete’s last request for his brother was that if he (Mike) had a son that his son be named after him since Pete was not married and did not have any children of his own. Pete’s brother Mike wanted to honor his brother if that was the case, so when Pete was killed in World War II, Mike named his son after his brother Pete Kavadas.

Pete was assigned to the Army’s 331st Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division, F Company, for the war. Pete Kavadas’ regiment saw their first fighting in June 1943 when they were part of the invasion of France from Britain. The regiment was just over a year old at the time of his death on July 4, 1944. It was decimated during the week of July 4th with hundreds of deaths and casualties.

Pete’s regiment fought on D-Day and then started pushing farther into France. One month after the Battle of Normandy, Pete’s company experienced heavy fire the whole month of July 1944 in the area surrounding Auvers, France. The regiment’s main goal was to drive enemy forces back as far as possible. The force they were up against was the German 6th Panzer Paratrooper Regiment, which was one of Germany’s most elite fighting forces. Heavy fighting began on July 4, 1944, as the division pushed forward and attacked the Germans at predetermined weak points. Much of the fighting took place in the thickets and brush that grew beside the road where the Germans blindly fired heavy artillery and machine gun fire at the Americans. (More information about the military history of Kavadas’ division can be found at a LoneSentry website: LoneSentry.com, “Division History,” 83rd Infantry Division, Web, accessed 1 June 2015.)
Pete Kavadas’ company

Pete Kavadas’ company. Courtesy Pete Kavadas (nephew)

Pete Kavadas was killed on July 4, 1944, as a result of heavy machine gun fire from the German forces. His company, F Company, had the most casualties of any company that day. Kavadas’ regiment lost roughly 1,300 men that day and only advanced 200 yards down the road toward the German forces. The Germans held the high ground, while the Americans were left fighting from a rather exposed and poor battle position. Kavadas died from extensive battle wounds. While one of the regiment’s medics was attending to his wounds, he called for his mother in Greek shortly before he died.

The Bronze Star

The Bronze Star

As a result of his duty, Pete Kavadas was awarded a Purple Heart as well as a Bronze Star. The Bronze Star is awarded to a soldier who has exhibited heroism and courageousness against an enemy of the United States in a war or battle. The recipient must stand out from other soldiers of the same capacity and go above and beyond the call to action. The Purple Heart is awarded to any American service member who has been wounded, died in battle, or succumbed after battle as a result of his or her wounds.

Pete’s parents purchased a house in Follansbee with the settlement money the government paid them as a result of his death. To this day, the family refuses to sell the house because they believe it was bought with Pete’s blood. Some of Kavadas’ family members still reside in the small house in downtown Follansbee. Several soldiers from the Greek community in Follansbee, West Virginia, were killed while in battle, which was a rather large blow to the small community in and around Follansbee.
Pete Kavadas’ marker

Pete Kavadas’ cross in the Normandy American Cemetery. Courtesy Astrid van Erp

Normandy American Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission

Kavadas is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, but his memory lives on among his survivors, one of whom is the nephew who bears his name.

Family information and some photos provided by Pete Kavadas’ nephew and namesake, Pete Kavadas.

Article prepared by Taylor Giles, George Washington High School, Advanced Placement U.S. History
May 2015

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Pete Kavadas

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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