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MACEDONIAN YANKEES IN WWI

By Dusan Sinadinoski

As soon as thousands of Macedonian new immigrants settled down in America, a major war
broke out in Europe in 1915. Initially the United States of America wanted to stay away from
meddling in the European affairs but decided in to enter the war in 1917. About twenty four
million Americans rushed to sign the registration draft cards and about four millions of them
ended up fighting in the war, which later became known to us as the Great War, a.k.a. World War
I. Barely noticeable in this massive response was a group of young Macedonian men who also
volunteered to be American soldiers. Soon afterwards some of them were engaged in enemy fire
someplace in the fields of Europe; much closer to their homes of childhood which they just left
behind, nevertheless still too far away from their beloved Macedonia. But for three of them the
hope of ever again seeing their beautiful Macedonia was for ever sealed on those grim fields of
Europe where the same fate awaited more than 50,000 other unlucky young and brave American
soldiers. As the news of their tragic ends slowly reached their homes in Macedonia, the war’s
cruel sorrow mercilessly stabbed the hearts of their loved ones.

Whatever dreams those three young Macedonians may have had were abruptly interrupted and
unfulfilled by the decisions and events of which they had no control. They died fighting for ideas
of freedom and democracy of which they had no opportunity to experience in their native
Macedonia. Those three Macedonian unsung heroes were: Stefen Caramicio, 24 years old, born
in Macedonia, place unknown, killed in action on 28 September 1918, buried at Meuse-Argone
American Cemetery in France; Tom John, 22 years old, born in Molovisti, Macedonia, killed in
action on 20 October 1918, buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France; and Jeams
Georgieff, 27 years old, born in Macedonia, place unknown, died of fracture of scull, buried at
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St Louis, Missouri. These unlucky young and brave
men were American soldiers but they were also Macedonian suns. Their names are engraved in
the American military cemeteries but their deaths will remain for ever inscribed in the
Macedonian consciousness.

All three of these young and brave Macedonian Yankee soldiers could have escaped the tragic
ends of their young lives. All they had to say to the enlisting officers was that they were
Bulgarians or they were born in Bulgaria. Such answers could have saved their lives because
under the direct proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson, all men who were German or
belong to the German Empire and all her allies were declared alien enemies of the United States
of America and were exempted from military service. By being an ally of Germany, the same
exemption applied to all persons who were born in Bulgaria or were of Bulgarian nationality. As
the result, these three Macedonians they could have opted out of military service if they chose to
declare themselves to be of a Bulgarian nationality. Instead, they chose to fight and subsequently
die in WWI as Macedonians rather then be called Bulgarians. But such acts of selfless sacrifice
only brave and patriotic men do; and these three young men made the ultimate sacrifice rather
than live with a false identity.

The three soldiers were not the only Macedonian young men who fought for the United States of
America in WWI. They were the ones who were destined to become unsung Macedonian
heroes. More than ninety other young and brave Macedonians joined the ranks of thousands
other young men from the State of Ohio who signed to fight against the enemies of the United
States of America in WW I. Whatever their reasons may have been for signing up to bear the
arms for America, they too had the same option of being exempted from war if they declared to
be Bulgarians or were born in Bulgaria. But just as the three who were killed, they also declined
this option. Moreover, this group of ninety Macedonian Yankee solders could have also declared
to be Greeks or Serbians because Macedonia then was divided by Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.
Instead, they affirmed to be Macedonians from Macedonia, the only country they felt was truly
theirs. These Macedonian American veterans of World War I also deserve to be mentioned and
honored because of their contribution to freedom and democracy. Their names and what ever else
was known about them appear in the Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in
the World War, 1917 – 18, Vol. I – XXIII, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Not to leave them behind, Macedonia is equally proud to honor another sixty three Macedonian
soldiers who also served in World War I as part of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.
Those Macedonian Canadians, in signed Canadian Military Attestation Papers, took an oath to
be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth... in duty bound
honesty and faithfully defend His Majesty…against all enemies, and will observe and obey all
orders of His Majesty… These too were young and brave Macedonian soldiers who fatefully
defended the interest of the British Empire. But the right of self-determination for their homeland
of Macedonia was not on the mind of Lloyd George, his Majesty’s Prime Minister, who was one
of the chief architects of the ill-fated European peace plan of 1919 in Paris. At least, those
Canadian Macedonians can proudly say that they fulfilled their duty and allegiance to His
Majesty, King George the Fifth.

Perhaps one of the reasons why these Macedonians sign up to fight in a war is because they may
have truly believed that the United States will help them free their occupied and divided
Macedonia. Indeed, not just them but many other Macedonians may have been also full of such
hopes because President Woodrow Wilson envisioned a new and better Europe where the right of
self-determination would be guaranteed to all small nations so that they would be able to from
their own governments. But for the Macedonians those hopes faded away as soon as the Paris
Peace Conference started. For blighted Macedonia and a few millions disillusioned
Macedonians history repeated itself one more time, this time even more devastating. The end of
Paris Peace Conference of 1919 also brought an end to Macedonia’s dream of nationhood and it
permanently cemented the division of Macedonia by Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. President
Wilson’s great idea of rights and liberties for all nations to form their own self-government fell
on deaf ears in Europe. Instead, as far as Macedonia’s hopes were concerned, the same old
Europe reemerged again.

A lot has change in Europe and the world since 1919. The world and Europe went through
another war even much more devastating than World War I. Today part of Macedonia is a free
nation and all Macedonians living there enjoy the benefits of being a free people. But human
rights, free speech and self identity for Macedonians in Greece and Bulgaria are still being
denied, almost a century later after World War I. This is a reality which exists at the time when
Europe has high hopes of creating a universal citizen of Europe, something that Alexander the
Great was capable of accomplishing over 2,500 years ago. But the Balkan nations, including
Greece and Bulgaria who are members of the pan-European community of evolved nations, are

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still deep-rooted the mud of 19th century Balkan nationalism. It is precisely this type of
nationalism which the Great War was supposed to have eradicated from the face of Europe and
for which so many Macedonian soldiers fought and died in the service of American and
Canadian armed forces. The more Europe embraces the idea of universal citizen and the more it
becomes a European, the more it become apparent the Balkan states have not yet free themselves
of Europe’s last great decease - the Balkan bread of nationalism .

Perhaps President Wilson’s plan for new Europe would have worked much better had he not
consulted his allies!

List of Macedonian American World War I Soldiers

Abraham Abdul, Nesilic, Macedonia; Tony Angeloff, Monastir; John T. Bando, Monastir;
Menillos Bassaras, Macedonia/Greece; Michael Branoff, Macedonia/Greece; Tom Budles,
Macedonia; Mike Chas, Macedonia; Jordan N. Christa, Gopeshi, Macedonia; Louis Christo,
Macedonia; John Costa, Macedonia/Serbia; James Costos, Macedonia/Greece; Manuel Demitri,
Macedonia/Greece; William Demos, Macedonia/Greece; Konstantin Dimitri, Florina,
Macedonia; John Dimitro, Zorovo, Macedonia; Floral Dimitry, Zelenitze, Macedonia; Fezola
Elmass, Nezvilic, Macedonia/Turkey; Christ S. Erca, Macedonia; Geroge Evanoff,
Macedonia/Turkey; Krste Evanoff, Vilage Lazaropole, Macedonia/Turkey; Lazo Evcheff,
Macedonia/Turkey; Ahment Gami, Macedonia; Kemal Geladin, Macedonia; Christ George,
Monastir, Macedonia; John George, Macedonia; Tom George, Belcomen, Macedonia; Mike
George, Setina, Macedonia; Hanese Georgeff, Mannike, Macedonia/Greece; Anastin Gerskocin,
Macedonia/Greece; John Gilott, Gumendja, Macedonia; Christo Grozdanoff, Capari,
Macedonia; Thomas Gurgeff, Macedonia; Steve Jameson, Macedonia/Greece; Amin Jenil,
Macedonia; Tashi D. Karadjoff, Macedonia; Alexadria Kostiff, Mokra Letz, Macedonia; Gligor
Kostracoff, Macedonia/Greece; Tippa Kotzeff, Macedonia; Thomas Louie, Breznitza,
Macedonia; Murad Mahamet, Gravenna, Macedonia; James G. Manoff, Macedonia; Talle
Metrof, Podmochane, Macedonia; Gust Midis, Macedonia; Pete Mike, Maloviste, Macedonia;
Cris Miller, Prilep, Macedonia; George Minas, Macedonia; Vangheli Mustricu, Gopesh,
Macedonia; Naum C Nastof, Macedonia; Louis Nedanoff, Macedonia; Dalip Nedjip, Macedonia;
Tony Nick, Macedonia; Sam Nicholoff, Mocrany, Macedonia; Louis Nicholoff, Macedonia /
Bulgaria; Thomas C Nolche, Macedonia; Lazo Noleff, Macedonia; Mike Paphal, Macedonia;
Tony Pete, Macedonia; Christ Peters, Macedonia; John Petro, Lahehey, Macedonia; James
Petroff, Macedonia; Nick Petroff, Macedonia; Steve Petroff, Sabonik, Macedonia; Damian
Phillips, Serdesh, Macedonia; Koozo Popoff, Cherrsienca, Macedonia; Mitch Povloff,
Macedonia; Costos Stamat, Macedonia/Turkey; Dine Stayanoff, Lubetina, Macedonia/Greece;
Vina Stefo, Macedonia; George Strezoff, Macedonia; James Tannis, Macedonia; Nick G. Tanoff,
Macedonia; Evan Todoroff, Macedonia, Tom Trpe, Macedonia/Greece; Jim Tony, Monastir,
Macedonia; Louis Triphon, Macedonia/Greece; John Tsanakas, Macedonia/Greece; Tanas Velo,
Macedonia; Svetko Yovanoff, Macedonia; Nick Zeman, Macedonia/Greece; Milan Zmeico,
Macedonia/Serbia; Peter T.Zozoff, Macedonia; and John Mike, Givgili, Macedonia.