Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Dear Friends, 

I am saddened to report that one of our dearest members of “Charlie Flight” passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday, August 20, 2011.  Steve Croslow died in Central Point, Oregon after having suffered a heart attack.  He had turned 60 years of age, just one week before on August 13, 2011. 

I served with Steve on Crete when we were both assigned to the 6931st Security Group at Iraklion Air Station.  We both worked on “Charlie Flight”.  But, it wasn’t until 2007 that Steve and I reconnected at the first “Charlie Flight Reunion” in St. Louis, Missouri where I was one of the organizers for that reunion.   Then, we both attended the second “Charlie Flight Reunion” in 2010, held once   again in St.  Louis.  During those late night hours (or early morning hours) of the reunion, we would  often sit around a table, drinking good beer (or cheap whiskey)  and reminisce about the  Air Force  Security Service,  Iraklion Air Station, Crete, and  Charlie Flight.  But if there was one predominant message that Steve conveyed to me, it was his superlative and unrelenting love for his family.  I don’t believe that I have ever met any man more dedicated to being a good father than Steve.  It wasn’t just his responsibility – it was his passion.

Steve had the type of personality that made you feel as if you had known him for five years, even though you may have only been talking with him for five minutes.  He had a pleasant and warm smile that he eagerly shared with everyone.  And when you   talked with him, he listened attentively and gave every indication that he was sincerely interested in what you had to say.  Beyond that, Steve had a sharp wit, a keen sense of humor, and a genuine talent for playing the guitar.  During the “Charlie Flight” reunions of 2007 and 2010, Steve would often entertain us by playing the guitar and singing.

Steve leaves behind two sons, a daughter, and his loving companion, Kaycee…plus those of us who served with him on “Charlie Flight” and had the privilege of meeting, knowing and calling Steve our Friend.
The true  success of a  man cannot be measured by the size of his house, the  number of cars  that he  owns, or by the  number  of  dollars he  has made in his  lifetime, but rather by the number  of friends he leaves behind.  In that regard, Steve was more successful than most of us could ever hope to be.  Rest in Peace my Friend - Rest in Peace my Brother.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

P.S.: Below are some photos which I took at the “Charlie Flight” Reunion of 2010. Click on any photo for a larger image.
ABOVE PHOTO: Steve tees off
 while the rest of the
 Charlie Flight International
Golf Team looks on with awe!
June 2010

ABOVE PHOTO:  Steve Croslow,
 far left, poses with the "Charlie Flight"
International Golf Team - June  2010

ABOVE PHOTO:  Steve sinks a putt
while others look on with envious
disbelief! June 2010.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Steve and  Kaycee
enjoy a light moment during the
"Charlie  Flight" reunion of 2010.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Steve in his element as he strums and
picks his guitar while entertaining "Charlie Flight" - June 2010

ABOVE PHOTO:  Steve entertains "Charlie Flight" while
Kaycee looks on - June 2010
Rest in Peace, my Friend!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Dear Friends,

What follows is merely a  random assortment of  photos since I have been here on Crete.  I hope you enjoy them.  "Click" on any photo for  a  larger view.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead

ABOVE  PHOTO: My landlord, Nikitas,
plays the mandolino on his patio at the
La Stella Apartments.
ABOVE PHOTO: My landlord's
friend plays the mandolino on the
patio of the La Stella Apartments.

ABOVE PHOTO: The beach at
Amoudara.  Just one block from my

ABOVE PHOTO:  An older Greek
man near my apartment.  Note the
traditional Cretan head covering and
that wonderful mustache!

ABOVE PHOTO: This is the tree
lined street where my apartment is
located - Naxou  Street.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Dear Friends,

Well, I (or my blog) have reached a milestone of sorts.  As of this moment, I  have had exactly 15,000 visitors to  my blog!!!  Can I hear a  big "HOORAY"?  LOL.

Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",

Bob Armistead


Dear Friends,

He was not your ordinary man.  Anyone who would remove his glass eye and place it in the middle of his desk as a signal to others that he had left on a mission could scarcely be called ordinary.  Such was John Pendlebury.

John Devitt Stringfellow Pendlebury was born October 12, 1904 in London, the son of a well-known English surgeon.  At an early age, Pendlebury lost an eye as the result of an injury.  Some said he accidently poked a pencil in his eye, but others maintained he lost it when it became infected after having stumbled into a thorn bush.   At any rate, the end result was the same; his eye was removed and replaced with a glass eye.  However, in spite of this handicap, John Pendlebury refused to allow it to stand in his way of excelling, both in academics and athletics.

Pendlebury studied archaeology in England; Athens, Greece; and Cairo, Egypt, becoming an expert in both ancient Greek archaeology and Egyptian archaeology.  He divided his time between mainland Greece, Egypt, and the Greek island of Crete, but in 1930 he was appointed as Curator of the ruins at Knossos on Crete for the British School of Archaeology in Athens.  During this time, Pendlebury learned to speak Greek like a true Cretan, knew all of the mountain village dialects, hiked the length and breadth of the island several times, could out drink any Cretan, and frequently even dressed in traditional Greek clothes, including the very baggy pants which the British called, “crap catchers”. However, his blue eyes, light brown hair, fair skin and decidedly European features betrayed the fact that he was not a true Cretan.  Because of the way in which he had adapted to the customs and culture of Crete and even adopted many of the traditional forms of Greek folk lifestyle as his own, some have come to refer to John Pendlebury as a composite of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and Indiana Jones.  He certainly had a flair for adventure and could often be found wandering the wild, rugged mountain sides of Crete searching for undiscovered Minoan ruins or visiting remote mountain villages and making lasting friendships with the village leaders and elders.  But, John Pendlebury’s most exciting and most dangerous adventure lay just ahead.

By the mid-1930’s, the rumors and shadows of war had begun to creep across the European continent, and in 1938, John offered his services to British Intelligence, citing his intimate knowledge of Crete and most of the Greek islands, as well as most of mainland Greece.  He also had many personal contacts over the entire Aegean region of the Mediterranean Sea, which would be an invaluable source of intelligence should Great Britain and Germany go to war.  His wait was short-lived; when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, England declared war on Germany.  World War Two had begun!

In early 1940, John was summoned to England where he was commissioned as an officer in the British Army and received instruction in courses of intelligence gathering, sabotage, commando training and how to organize groups of resistance fighters who could fight from the mountains of Crete in the event of an invasion by either Italy or Germany.  When he returned to Crete in June of 1940, he had also been appointed as British Vice-Consul to Crete, which would now serve as his official cover.  After mainland Greece was invaded by the Germans on April 6, 1941, Pendlebury knew it would be only a matter of time before Crete was also invaded.  And then, on the early morning hours of May 20, 1941, the German invasion of Crete began, first with intensive bombing, followed with paratroop drops at the airfields of Maleme, Chania, and Heraklion, followed closely by support troop and equipment landings in gliders.  Pendlebury dressed in his Captain’s uniform, grabbed his sword cane, and made his way to the Brigade Headquarters located deep in a cave, where he met briefly with other officers before making his way to the Chania Gate, which was a part of the ancient, massive Venetian fortifications that surrounded the old city of Heraklion.  His intent was to encourage and rally the Cretan recruits defending the Chania Gate before making his way up into the mountain village of Krousonas to join the other resistance fighters.  John had already selected three impressive Cretan “kapetans” who were old fighters, heads of their clans, and widely respected for their leadership and tenacious fighting abilities.  These three men and their attendant bands of armed guerilla fighters became known to the Germans as “Pendlebury’s Thugs”.

The following day, Pendlebury left the Chania Gate and, while shooting and fighting his way out of Heraklion, was severely wounded.  One report said that he was wounded by a German Stuka aircraft, but another said that he was shot by German paratroopers.  At any rate, he received a serious wound to his chest and was taken to a house near Heraklion for care.  Once in the house, his uniform was removed so that his wounds might be dressed and bandaged.  A doctor was summoned.  A short time later a patrol of German soldiers arrived at the house.  When the German officer in charge discovered this wounded English soldier out of uniform, he declared that Pendlebury should be shot as a spy.  It was said the wounded Pendlebury was dragged from the house, propped up against a wall, and then executed.  His body was placed in an unmarked grave, as many others were at that time, and then forgotten.  Shortly afterwards, the battle for Crete was over, and the Germans set up occupation.

But then, something remarkable began to happen.  Reports started to come in of brazen guerilla attacks on German patrols led by a tall, fair-skinned man dressed in traditional Greek attire with a patch covering one eye.  He wore a long silver-handled Cretan dagger held close to his body with a wide sash.  He fought like a buccaneer - showing no mercy and taking no prisoners.  He seemed to be everywhere at once – he was seen on the south side of the island and at the same time in the White Mountains and on the same day in the Lasithi plains of central Crete.  He was like a phantom – a ghost which struck and then seemed to evaporate into thin air like the morning mist.  Hitler was enraged!  He demanded that the body of Pendlebury be located, dug up, and the glass eye plucked from its socket and sent to him.  Greek peasants were ordered to exhume the graves and then stick their fingers into the eye sockets to see if any one of them contained a glass eye.  Soon a body was found that reportedly had a glass eye.  That glass eye was sent to Hitler, and it was said that Hitler kept it on his bedside stand until his death.  But, John Pendlebury was not the only British soldier on Crete who had a glass eye. 

Today, at Souda Bay in the British War Cemetery on Crete, there is a gravestone which reads, “Captain J. D. S. Pendlebury”.  But, does the grave contain the remains of a man…or does it hold only a glass eye?  You decide.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

P.S.:  Click on any photo for a larger image.

ABOVE PHOTO: Bob Armistead kneels
behind the grave of John Pendlebury in the
Souda Bay War Cemetery for fallen World
War Two British soldiers, airmen and seamen.
ABOVE PHOTO: The grave of John
D.S. Pendlebury at the British World
War Two Cemetery at Souda Bay, Crete.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Dear Friends,

Recently, I traveled to Souda Bay on Crete with my friends from Northern Ireland, Paul and Karen, and Karen’s sons, Colin and Luke. It was a hot and sunny day as we traveled west toward Chania. When we rounded a bend in the narrow, twisting road, the Bay of Souda opened up before us. It is a natural bay and provides a perfect shelter for the ships of the Greek Navy, as well as those ships that are deployed under the banner of N.A.T.O. But, our real mission wasn’t to view the harbor or the ships going in and out. We were on a more serious…a more somber mission. Paul and Karen were taking me to visit the Souda Bay War Cemetery where over 1,500 men of the British Commonwealth rest. These are the men who fell while defending the island against the German invasion of Crete during the Second World War.

The cemetery sits at the far northwestern corner of Souda Bay. Its tranquil setting masquerades the horror and terror these men must have faced during the onslaught of the German invasion. Some of these young men were little more than boys…but they must be admired for their loyalty and patriotism for answering their Country’s call to duty.

When we stepped just inside the iron gates to the cemetery, I immediately knew that we were all standing upon hallowed ground…ground that had been sanctified by the blood of their countrymen. But, in a much greater sense, they were also MY countrymen as well…after all Great Britain and the United States were allies working toward the common goal of ridding the world from the blight of Nazism and Fascism. I knew that none of us was worthy to set so much as one foot upon that ground, but I felt a beckoning…a call from these men: “Come in. Walk amongst us. Stand beside us. Just never forget us or the sacrifices we made”. As I looked out, I could see nothing but row upon row of identical white stones, each marking the final resting place of these valiant men. It seemed a tragic irony that these men who died such violent deaths and so far from home should be settled in such a peaceful, blissful setting.

As I wandered amongst the stones, sometimes stopping to read a name here or a tribute there, I couldn’t help but notice how well-maintained and well-groomed the cemetery was. It could hardly be said the grass was mowed and trimmed - it was more like it had been manicured with the greatest care and with the utmost attention. There were also flowers and beautiful plants growing between each stone. The flowers, shrubs and bushes helped to create a more colorful and uplifting backdrop for the final resting place of these men.

As I walked from stone to stone, from row to row, from section to section, I seemed to lose track of time. But, time wasn’t really relevant – not really important…after all, time for these 1,500 men has stopped. All of these men, both young and old, have sacrificed all of their tomorrows for what they were able to do then and there. And the very least that we can do, is to pause and spend a little of our time in quiet recognition and appreciation for the terrible sacrifices they made. Rest in Peace my Brothers and may God hold you in the palms of His hands for all Eternity!

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead
Cross and Sword stand
watch over the British
Commonwealth World
War Two Cemetery at
Souda Bay, Crete.

ABOVE PHOTO: Entrance to
 the BritishCommonwealth World War
Two Cemetery at Souda Bay, Crete.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Stone after stone,
row after row...British World War
Two Cemetery at Souda Bay, Crete.
ABOVE PHOTO:  A flower or plant
adorns either side of every stone at the
British World War Two Cemetery at
Souda Bay, Crete.

ABOVE PHOTO:  British World War
Two soldiers, airmen and seamen rest in
the Souda Bay War Cemetery.
ABOVE PHOTO:  1,500 soldiers of
the British Commonwealth lie in quiet
repose in Souda Bay War Cemetary.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Some of the
beautiful flowers that adorn each
gravesite at the British World War
Two Cemetery at Souda Bay,  Crete.


Monday, August 1, 2011

POPI'S TAVERNA: The Crossroads of the World

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I have had the privilege to eat at many fine dineries across the world.  Some had great food…and others, well, let’s just say the food was not so great.  And, I have paid exorbitant prices just for the honor of sitting in a 4 or 5 star restaurant and eating 1 star food but still paying the 4 or 5 star prices!

But I must confess, the places I enjoy the most are those with the most simple furnishings, sitting with common folk (like myself), and eating the simplest of foods.  One such place located here in the little seaside village of Amoudara is Popi’s Taverna.  Now, Popi refers to it as Mavrakis Beach and I think that probably is the “official” name.   But, over the years, my friends and I have come to call it simply…Popi’s Taverna or just "Popi's".  I first went to Popi’s Taverna in 2008.  By 2009 I had become a regular customer of Popi’s.  I clearly remember one afternoon, after I had finished a cold Mythos beer, I asked Popi if I could have another.  In her very sweet manner and in her Greek accent she answered, “Bobby, please make yourself feel at home here.  If you want another beer, please just get up and get it yourself from the cooler.”  At that moment, I knew that I had been accepted into Popi’s family of customers and that I was one of them!

Popi’s little taverna is located about a block (perhaps less) from my apartment, at the end of Naxou Street where the road runs into the Mediterranean Sea.  If you get your feet wet, then you know that you have gone too far and need to back up a little.  There, in a little non-descript, white­washed building on the right side of the road sits Popi’s Taverna.  Her taverna is furnished simply and unpretentious – the chairs are a white plastic and the tables are metal and covered with white enamel.  Popi rents out spaces on her beach complete with beach umbrellas, sun beds and small tables upon which drinks or food can be placed while catching some “rays”.  Inside the covered, but open-air space of her taverna, one can order cold beer, assorted juices, soft drinks, chilled wine, raki and coffee.  Popi also has a little freezer with various ice creams treats.   If you are hungry, don’t ask for a menu – there isn’t one.  But, Popi will tell you that she can prepare a nice Greek salad, or an omelet, or a sandwich - usually ham and cheese on a toasted baguette and dressed with only the freshest of tomatoes, onions and green peppers.  But…but…but, if you talk  to Popi really nice…give her  a big smile…and ask her in the  nicest of tones, you might…just might be able  to persuade Popi to fix you one of  the finest…most delicious…tastiest fish filet dinners that has ever delighted your palate!  I am not sure what kind if fish it is…perhaps sole…perhaps something else.  But, it has the most pleasant taste – not an over-powering fishy taste, but a mild flavor that will have your taste buds begging for more!!!  Popi fries it in olive oil to perfection, places it on the plate with an order of freshly cut and fried potatoes and a few tomato slices along with a soft baguette of bread.  A glass of white wine provides a nice accompaniment to the meal.  All of my friends who  have ever  gone down to Popi’s  with me and sampled her fish  filet  dinner have agreed that it is  one  of the  tastiest, most  delightful   fish  filet dinners  ever eaten!

Another of the reasons that I enjoy going to Popi’s Taverna is the people I meet there.  There are always people from distant countries who have come to Crete on their vacation, and at any one time there can be people from several different countries sitting together and enjoying each other’s company under the roof of Popi’s Taverna.  That is why I often refer to Popi’s Taverna as…The Crossroads of the World!  I really enjoy sitting there talking with travelers from other countries and learning about their customs and their cultures.  Under the roof of Popi’s Taverna we truly all become brothers and sisters in the family of Mankind!

Take care, stay well, and let me hear from you.

Your Friend and Fellow “Silent Warrior”,

Bob Armistead

ABOVE PHOTO: One of the large
 bamboo umbrellas that can be
sat under at Popi's Taverna.
ABOVE PHOTO:  Popi's Taverna at
the end of Naxou street.

 ABOVE  PHOTO: A few people
enjoy a cold drink and relax under
the cover of Popi's Taverna.  Popi
is  seated far left and often joins
her customers in conversation.

ABOVE PHOTO: An elderly  Greek
gentleman enjoys a cup of Popi's freshly
made coffee.
ABOVE PHOTO: Sunbathers enjoy
laying out on Popi Mavraki's beach in
front of her little taverna.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Sunbathers on Popi
Mavraki's beach enjoy the late
afternoon sun. 
ABOVE PHOTO: One of Popi's beautiful
Greek salads topped with only the very
best feta cheese along with a baguette of
bread and a chilled glass of wine.

ABOVE PHOTO: Popi proudly
displays her famous fish filet dinner.
This has got to be the best fish dinner
in all of  Greece!!! 
ABOVE PHOTO:  This fish filet
dinner only lasted a few minutes
after this photo  was taken!

ABOVE PHOTO: A chilled glass of wine
at Popi's Taverna.  Notice the  beach umbrellas
in the background and those same umbrellas
upside down in the glass of  wine!