Helias Doundoulakis

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Helias Doundoulakis (born July 12, 1923) is a Greek American scientific innovator who patented the suspension system for the largest radio telescope in the world, and served in the United States Army as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services.

War years[edit]

Doundoulakis was born in Canton, Ohio to Greek-immigrant parents. At the age of two, he and his family emigrated to Crete, Greece, where he grew up in Archanes, the site of the Minoan excavation at Knossos. While in his last year of high school, German paratroopers, the Fallschirmjäger, invaded Crete on May 20, 1941, after most of Greece had already fallen under the Axis powers.

The Battle of Crete lasted for ten days, after which Helias and his brother George joined the Cretan resistance. An underground organization was formed by George Doundoulakis, who recruited ex-military and Cretan civilians from the Heraklion and Lasithi regions of Crete, at the request of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Christopher Montague Woodhouse.[1][2]

Working closely with "Monty" Woodhouse, Thomas James Dunbabin, and later Patrick Leigh Fermor, the underground organization supplied key information to the British SOE [1]. Timely information obtained by this organization and delivered to Dunbabin led to the sinking of a large German convoy destined to re-supply the Afrika Korps of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in 1942.

After the war, George Doundoulakis was awarded the King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom from Great Britain for his service, and Captain Thomas J. Dunbabin was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. After a two-year involvement with the Cretan resistance, both Helias and George escaped to the south shore of Crete through the Psiloritis Mountains after their betrayal to the German Gestapo by a local Cretan, and were evacuated to Mersa Matruh, Egypt, on a British motor torpedo boat. This was accomplished at the request of SOE agent Patrick Leigh Fermor,[3] who would later be known for his role in the kidnap of General Kreipe from Crete.

Helias Doundoulakis was moved to an SOE villa in Heliopolis, Cairo. The Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, quickly learned of his two-year involvement with the Cretan resistance, and sent Captain James Kelly, or James Kellis,[4] to the SOE's Heliopolis villa, to recruit both Helias and George Doundoulakis [2]. The brothers enlisted in the United States Army on September 16, 1943, and joined the newly formed American spy service, the OSS.

Post-war years[edit]

Upon completion of his duties in the U.S. Army, Helias Doundoulakis settled in Brooklyn, New York, receiving a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the City College of New York, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

He worked for over thirty-five years as a professional engineer at Grumman Aerospace Corporation and on many notable projects, including the MetLife Building in New York City, the Apollo Space Missions (such as the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM)), the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, and the Space Shuttle. His crowning achievement is his patent for a radio telescope, used in the design for the largest of its kind at the NAIC Arecibo Observatory, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico (see U.S. Patent Office, Arecibo Observatory). He worked on this project with his brother, George Doundoulakis, and long-time friend and business partner William J. Casey[5][3], who was appointed OSS chief for Europe by OSS Director, General William J. Donovan.


  1. ^ Beevor, A: Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, p. 278, Second Edition, Westview Press, 1994.
  2. ^ Kiriakopoulos, G: The Nazi Occupation of Crete 1941-1945, p. 190, Praeger Publishers, 1995.
  3. ^ Doundoulakis, H: I Was Trained to be a Spy, p. 35, Xlibris, 2008.
  4. ^ Smith, R: OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency, p. 258, The Lyons Press, 2005.
  5. ^ Persico, J: Casey: From the OSS to the CIA, pp. 101, 107-108, 166-67, 513, First Edition, Viking Press, 1990.
  • US patent 3273156, Helias Doundoulakis, "Radio Telescope having a scanning feed supported by a cable suspension over a stationary reflector", issued 1966-09-13 

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