Glenwood Springs WWII pilot Philip Wilmot thanked by son of man he saved


GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Miles apart from one another, two men celebrated a single day in history as their defining moment.

One of the men, 1st Lt. Philip S. (Pots) Wilmot, of Glenwood Springs, remembers it as the most important thing he did during World War II.

The other man, the Rev. Thomas Papazoglakis of Clifton Park, New York, was not alive that day in 1945, but he knows that without the help of two marine pilots his dad would never have made it back from the war, never married his mother and therefore he never would have been born.

It all started when Pots, a Marine pilot and World War II veteran, shared the story of when he helped escort a damaged Navy torpedo bomber to safety to author and friend Martin Irons.

“I think that’s why I was put here, to save Rev. Tom’s dad; that’s my ultimate achievement.” — Philip S. (Pots) Wilmot, WWII pilot from Glenwood Springs

Pots had always wondered what had happened to the crew of that aircraft. Irons, who met Pots while researching for a book project, decided to look into it for his story.

“This whole thing unfolded in about 44 hours,” Irons said. And on the 73th anniversary of the attack last March, he made contact with Papazoglakis, rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Clifton Park.

Neither Pots nor Papazoglakis had ever shared their stories, or even been able to meet each other, until a recent Friday in Glenwood Springs.

The day was March 19, 1945.

“It was my best day and my worst day,” Pots told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent during his meeting with Papazoglakis at Pots’ daughter’s house.

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