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Peter Harry Marvrias'

Submitted by: Steven Hull {grandson}

Peter Harry Marvrias

Peter Harry Marvrias' born around 1887, Peter Marvrias' served in World War 1 with the the United States Army . The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

My grandfather, Peter (Pete) H. Mavrias', died when I was four. My recollections of him are vague, but I remember him as a kind, fun loving person. Growing up, two pictures were hung in my grandmother’s bedroom: one a formal portraiture of Pete in his World War I Army uniform; and the other a showing a kneeling soldier looking up at Columbia, the female representation of the United States. In her right hand was a sword resting on the soldier’s right shoulder. At the top an inscription reads, “Columbia Gives To Her Son The Accolade Of The New Chivalry Of Humanity”. At the bottom in hand written scrip was “Peter H. Mavrias, Pvt, Co. H. 167th Inf.”, followed by the words “Served With Honor In The World War And Was Wounded In Action”, signed “Woodrow Wilson”.

Pete Mavrias’ life was an adventure, not unlike that of hundreds of thousands of other early 20th century immigrants beaconing to Lady Liberty’s call ‘…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses”. He was born August 4, 1887 in Vervena, Greece. Pete traveled alone to the United States, knowing that America meant freedom and opportunity. It was 1903. He was sixteen.

Four years later Pete headed west, wanting a piece of the action associated with the opening of a massive open-pit copper mine and mill in the remote wilds of eastern Nevada, near the towns of Ely and McGill. Over the next decade Pete became a successful general store clerk servicing the miners. On March 13, 1914 he achieved his dream of becoming an American citizen.

Then came World War I. Pete entered the U.S. Army on October 4, 1917. He was 30 years old.

An infantryman, he shipped over to France on February 6, 1918. Upon arrival he was sent to the 42nd Infantry Division, the Rainbow Division, as a replacement. On April 17, 1918 he wrote to a McGill friend, “I drop you a few lines to let you know I am in very good condition. I try to do my best for the country. I hope you fellas from that end try to help the soldiers in France and the U.S. Government. I hope to see this war to the end before long, and me to come back to the old McGill town. Be sure and write soon. Give my regards to the old boys”. Two and a half months later, on July 1st, Pete told the same friend, “I am getting along fine and dandy. France sure is a very nice place. Everything nowadays is green. Well, I don’t have much to say, just enough to let you know I am safe so far”.

The France that Pete describe in his last letter soon receded as the Rainbow Division and Pete soon found themselves in the middle of the intense combat that characterized the final four months of the war. Pete fought in the Champagne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne offensives. He was wounded twice first on July 12th and again on October 15th. On August 15, 1918 he received the French Croix de Guerre. Later he would be awarded the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster.

Following the Armistice, Pete remained in France as part of the allied occupation force. He returned home on April 20, 1919 and mustered out on May 14th at the Presidio of San Francisco.

Pete returned to McGill Nevada and resumed his job as a store clerk. He had done his part, but never saw his service in the Great War as anything more than his duty to the country that had given him so much. He later owned and operated his own general store. He joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He bought a book, which I still own, about the 42nd Infantry Division in the Great War entitled “Men of the Rainbow”. He lost his business in the Great Depression and had to be hospitalized for his own depression as a consequence. He eventually recovered personally and economically because he knew that in American, that is what one does.

In 1926 Pete traveled to Havana, Cuba to marry, sight unseen, Helen Tsiolis, the sister of two friends. Helen had been caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally and was languishing in Havana awaiting her return to Greece. For Pete and Helen it was love at first sight. Shortly thereafter, Pete Mavrias’, American citizen and Great War combat veteran, brought his bride home to Nevada—legally.

In March 1944 Pete asked Nevada’s 7th District Court to bend the law and grant U.S. citizenship to Helen, who could not read or write. He had fought for America as an immigrant citizen and felt the country owed him this privilege. The court agreed. Debt paid.

In 1954, at the age of 67, Peter H. Mavrias’ passed away in Ely, Nevada. He was buried with full military honors.

5a7c95aba33c1 PVT Peter Mavrias' 1918 2

5a7c95aba441f Peter Mavrias' 1930Peter Mavrias' in 1930