Captain Nico Papadakis
Nico was born to immigrant parents in Astoria (Queens) New York in 1897. He grew up in the largely Greek neighborhood, and attended school at St. Demetrios School, where he also attended Greek Orthodox church services. His parents came to America with the intention of building a better life for themselves, and then returning to Greece better off, which was a common plan in that era. His father was a factory mechanic, and his mother ran a small Greek cafe with her brother in law.
When the time came for the family to return to Greece in 1915, Nico (then 18) had spent his whole life in New York, and knew nothing of his homeland. He wanted to remain, but his father insisted up bringing them all back across the Atlantic. Finally, in a heated argument, Nico stormed out of the house to join the US Army. His father was of course furious, and was determined to leave the country without him. The same year, the whole Papadakis family left New York, and returned to their home village in Greece.
Nico worked his way through the Army for a few years, and actually got picked up for Officer Candidate School in early 1916. Therein, he had a friendly rivalry with a Jewish officer candidate, Joseph Grumer, and also made friends with an Irish American named Patrick (Paddy) O’Shane.
Nico Papadakis, Joseph Grumer, Paddy O’Shane
The three planned to go to college together after serving their time, the first in either of their families. However, after the contents of the Zimmerman telegram were released, the US declared war on Germany, and in the fall of 1917, they were sent to Europe anyhow, as fresh 2nd Lieutenants.
Paddy, Nico & Grumer
The war was harsh. Trench warfare was a new experience for America, and for these young soldiers, the horrors of mustard gas, barbed wire, and seeing their comrades shot in the face were shattering. The three tried to meet up as often as possible, to keep their sanity, but they could tell O’Shane (usually the most spirited of the group) was cracking. Finally, after one night of drinking in France, O’Shane pulled his pistol and intermittently threated to kill the other two, as well as himself. After an emotional exchange where Nico tried to talk O’Shane down, Grumer used his distraction to pull his own pistol and shoot O’Shane in the back.
Nico was crushed. Paddy had been his closest friend since Astoria, and he felt betrayed by Grumer. Grumer had also been affected by the war; it had hardened him, and made him concerned primarily with one thing: his own survival. He dismissed Nico’s anger, and the two separated company.
Between sorties, Nico fell in with the Harlem Hellfighters, an African American combat regiment who was sent to fight with the French 16th division. Sergeant Perry Jackson was also from Queens, and the two shared stories from back home, as well as an acquired taste for hard liquor. While he was of course never truly at home with the Hellfighters (being, you know, not black), they were good company and an even better distraction from the war.
Sgt. Jackson, Nico, and some Hellfighters
His only other saving grace was his company doctor, a man in his early forties named Clarence Wilson. Wilson treated Nico for a gunshot would in Belleau Wood, and listened to a morphine-induced breakdown about the abandonment of his family, O’Shane and Grumer, and his disillusionment with the world and religion because of the horrors of war. Wilson became a sort of father-figure for Nico, and the two spent a great deal of time talking.
Upon returning to the States after the war, Nico was depressed. With nothing much else to do, he remained in the Army, but his service was lack-luster. He kept in loose contact with Sgt. Jackson and Dr. Wilson, but he was largely alone. He finally left the service in 1921, and held down a few odd jobs in Queens, working with Jackson and a few other Hellfighter veterans he knew.
Finally, Dr. Wilson paid Nico a visit and saw what his life was evolving into. He expressed his disappointment in a not-so-subtle shouting match one night, he finally talked Nico into following his old goal of going to college. With Wilson’s help, Nico was admitted to Miskatonic University in 1923, to study Greek Language and History. He’s been there for a year, now, and meets with Wilson and Jackson regularly, often reminiscing about the war.
2nd Lieutenant Patrick “Paddy” O’Shane – Irish-American soldier, friend of Nico’s from OCS and during the war; deceased
Sgt. Perry Jackson – African American Sergeant from the Harlem Hellfighters; friend and former co-worker of Nico’s
Althea Papadakis – Nico’s Sister; he wrote to her regularly before and during the war, and has since resumed since he got his life back on track. She has a family in Greece
Captain Joseph Grumer – Grumer is Nico’s ex-friend, shot O’Shane in what could arguably be self-defense, never brought up on charges; now in his fifth year studying law in Harvard.
Hector Papadakis – Nico’s younger brother, always doing right by his father; he feels Nico turned his back on the family, and refuses any contact with his brother
Leonidas (Leo) Papadakis – Nico’s father; still bitter about the divide, the two have not reconciled since the family moved to Greece and Nico remained behind
Dr. Clarence Wilson – Army doctor who helped Nico out during his service in France; he took him under his wing and helped him pursue his goal of obtaining a higher education
Captain Joseph Grumer – Nico suspects that Grumer feels no remorse about O’Shane’s death, and acted prematurely. Something changed Grumer during the war.
Captain Joseph Grumer