Boumbouras' career forged in WWII
by Jerry Vondas
Courtesy of The Tribune-Review News Service
April 16, 2009
When James Boumbouras, a career soldier, was appointed a Brigadier General in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1978, it was the highlight of a military career that began on the beaches of Normandy during World War II.
In the bitter fighting that followed D-Day, Private First Class Boumbouras was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars, along with a Purple Heart, for his participation in the Battle of the Bulge.
James Anthony Boumbouras of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, died on Good Friday, April 10, 2009, in Cedars of Monroeville. He was 84.
General Boumbouras once again enlisted in the Army during the Korean War and was assigned to Fort Breckenridge, Kentucky, where he trained infantrymen.
In 1975, as an officer in the Pennsylvania National Guard, General Boumbouras graduated from the Command and General Staff College of the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Restaurateur John Petrolias of the Smithfield Cafe in Pittsburgh recalled the years he served as a communication chief for the Headquarters Battery of the 218th Antiaircraft Artillery Group, based in the Logan Armory in Oakland.
“Jim was our commanding officer,” said Petrolias. “Even though we were friends, and he was the best man at my wedding, he was still my commanding officer.
“Jim was the kind of leader the men admired,” Petrolias added. “He could inspire the men under his command, because he understood what men went through when they went into combat.
“He never wanted to talk about his war record,” said Petrolias. “He'd say, ‘What I did, I did for my country.'”
Born and raised in Oakland, General Boumbouras was one of four sons in the family of Anthony and Marina Boumbouras, who emigrated from Greece and operated the University Grill in Oakland.
As a youth attending Schenley High School in Oakland and later as a student at the University of Pittsburgh, General Boumbouras worked in his family's restaurant.
In 1959, he met Carol Fiske, a resident of Morningside, a customer of the University Grill.
“We were married in 1964,” his wife said. “Jim was kind and personable and a good judge of character.”
She added jokingly, “Once in a while, he'd give me orders, and I had to remind him that I was not one of his soldiers.
“I enjoyed the years when we traveled throughout Pennsylvania when Jim was representing the adjutant general of the Pennsylvania National Guard.”
General Boumbouras was what the Marines call “a mustang” said George Diamantopulos, a retired Marine Reserve major. “These are the enlisted men and women who work their way up through the ranks to become officers — officers who understand the meaning of serving their country.”
General Boumbouras was an avid golfer and a 40-year member of Church-ill Valley Country Club.
In addition to his wife, Carol, General Boumbouras is survived by his goddaughters, Stacy and Elizabeth Constintinou of Wilmington, North Carolina, and his beloved dog, Nipper.
General Boumbouras was preceded in death by his brothers, Peter, Sophocles and John Boumbouras.
Services were at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Oakland. Interment was in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard