A decorated Vietnam veteran and police officer in the city of Philadelphia for 25 years, Billy Phillips (Vasili Philippou) has served country and community. “I was one of a handful of Greek-American volunteers that joined the Army to serve in Vietnam from the area,” recalls Phillips. “My father was a World War II veteran, and many of my relatives served. When the country went to war, and I finished h.s., I signed up as soon as I could. We thought differently back then. Patriotism was perceived differently back then”, said Phillips.
Born in West Philadelphia and raised in Upper Darby’s Greek community around St. Demetrios, Phillips was part of a new church and community that was growing and moving west from Olde City. From the 1970’s through the 1990’s the Greek community population swelled to 1 in 9 of the total population in Upper Darby. He witnessed the birth of a new church that was built in 1965 across the Cobbs Creek Parkway from West Philadelphia in Upper Darby. He was even part of the first Greek-American Boy Scout troop – 302 in the area. Troop 302 established a record for the most Eagle Scouts in the state of Pennsylvania years later and united the youth of a community that was becoming part of the American melting pot.
Like his father before him, he too joined the VFW Post 6633 – Eleftheria after returning from his service in Vietnam. It was only Greek-American veterans post in North America. Today, Philippou is an active member of the VFW post and is retired from the police force.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.