Category Archives: Famous Armenians

Marshal Hovhannes Baghramian

Marshal Ivan (Hovhannes) Khatchaduri Baghramian was born in 1897 in the village of Chartakhlu, Armenia, 1897. He was educated in Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1915, he volunteered in Russian army, fighting for the Bolsheviks and in 1921, the Sovietisation of Lori and Georgia. He was commander of the First Armenian Cavalry Brigade from 1923–31. Baghramian attended the Frunze Military Academy from 1931–1934.

During World War II, Baghramian was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front. He was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high-ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war. Baghramian’s experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany. He was given his first command of a unit in 1942, and in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commander of the 1st Baltic Front. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics.

He did not immediately join the Communist Party after the consolidation of the October Revolution, becoming a member only in 1941, a move atypical for a Soviet military officer. After the war, he served as a deputy member of the Supreme Soviets of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendee of the Party Congresses. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was widely regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, and continues to hold such esteemed status among Armenians.

A Forgotten Hero: From the United States to Cilicia

Captain Jim Chankalian was named a Captain in the United States Army for his service during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and later served the A.D.L., A.G.B.U. and Armenian Church with great distinction and honour until his death on May 10, 1947.

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Born in Dikranagerd as Bedros Chankalian, James (Jim) emigrated to the United States with his family. He graduated from an American high school, then entered a military academy to become an officer in the U.S.

Already a seasoned soldier in the U.S. Army, Chankalian also became a well-known figure in the Armenian community of New York. After resigning from his rank of captain, he was offered an important position with Powers Co. He ably performed the job he had taken, which ensured him a comfortable living. In 1915, the Reformed Hunchak Party, in cooperation with the Regional Committee of the Constitutional Democratic [Ramgavar] Party of the United States, decided to send Jim Chankalian on a special mission, first to the Caucasus and then to Van. Chankalian gladly accepted the proposition, giving up his high position and comfortable station in life. Taking with him a group of experienced volunteers, who had come from Western Armenia, he reached Van at the designated time and was greeted there by the brave leader of the successful heroic self-defense, Armenag Yegarian.

After consulting with Yegarian, Chankalian put his extensive military experience in the service of the heroic struggle of the Armenians of Van and became Yegarian’s advisor and immediate co-worker in the formation of the Yerkrapah [Defenders of the (Father) Land] Regiment. With the satisfaction of having fulfilled his obligation, Chankalian set out for the Caucasus, where he had intended to join General Antranig’s forces. In 1917, Chankalian returned to the United States, having fully performed the mission entrusted to him. But he had barely become situated, when he found out about the plan of the formation of the Armenian Legion. Owing to special arrangements made by the French government and army, it was projected that this legion should depart for the Palestinian front, to fight alongside the Allies (France, England and Russia) against the German and Turkish troops that were allied on the other side.

Chankalian, who enjoyed the unreserved respect and esteem of the American-Armenian community and Armenian political parties, was appointed leader of the detachment consisting of American-Armenian volunteers, which was to join the Armenian Legion. The main dream of the Armenian soldiers was the formation of an autonomous Armenia under French mandate, at the cost of the blood to be sacrificed by them. The Armenian National Union formed in Egypt and the Armenian National Delegation had secured such a promise from the French authorities. The natives of Musa Dagh, who had found refuge in the seaside town of Port Said, Egypt, formed the nucleus of the Armenian, or Foreign Legion. On July 9, 1917, Chankalian, along with the volunteers under his charge, boarded a French ship headed for Marseilles. From there, he went to Port Said and joined the nucleus of the legion; all together, they departed for Cyprus, where volunteers from all parts of the world wishing to join the Foreign Legion were assembled for training.

The trained detachments were divided into three companies, or battalions. By order of General Allenby, the commander of the combined troops of the Allied powers operating on the Middle Eastern front, the Armenian volunteers were transported to Palestine on September 14, 1918, where five days later they went on the attack against the German and Turkish forces in Arara. The first line of the front, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, headed by Chankalian, was occupied by the detachments comprising the American-Armenian volunteers; with a minimum loss of life, they achieved the glorious victory at Arara.

World War I ended in November 1918. The Armenian volunteers were transferred from the Palestinian front to Beirut. From there, British ships took them, in groups, via Alexandretta [Iskenderun] to the mountains and plains of Cilicia. The legionnaires were greeted in Adana with Armenian tricolor flags. The Turks already appeared to be disillusioned. In the overall prevailing atmosphere, it seemed an easy task to the fighters of the Armenian Legion to take all of Cilicia under their control. The execution of the plan to have an autonomous or independent Armenian Cilicia was undertaken with [Mihran] Damadian’s leadership. In order to crown such a plan as this with success, it was necessary to have a solid fighting force which could become a reality, with the assemblage of such battle-tested heroes as Chankalian, Antranig, Yegarian, [Yesayi] Yaghoubian, etc. However, the Allied powers had a different intention. They resorted to various measures, in order to prevent the entrance of Antranig, Yegarian, and the others into Cilicia.

Convinced that the plan of having an Armenian state in Cilicia would remain unattainable, a disappointed Chankalian returned to the United States, but not before having recorded brilliant pages in the history of the Armenian liberation struggle and World War I. Subsequently, as one of the leading figures of the Democratic Liberal Party in America, Chankalian traveled to all the cities with large Armenian concentrations, especially those in California, in order to organize efforts to raise funds in support of the first Republic of Armenia.

In order to give a greater impetus to his efforts on behalf of the homeland, Chankalian became the driving force behind the formation of the American-Armenian National Council and served as its president. He also became the first president of the Central Committee of the AGBU of America, and he devoted his time and service to the Armenian Church as well. This great patriot, endowed with exceptional military prowess, passed away in New York in 1948 at an advanced age, leaving behind him a great and unforgettable legacy of sacrifice made for his nation.

source: http://lalettre.hayway.org/protected/en/communique000101cb.html

Marten Yorgantz- A Childhood Favourite

Born June 24, 1946, in what is known today as Istanbul, Marten Yorgantz is a popular French-Armenian singer and composer. He is recognized as the most popular Armenian singer in Europe with over a thousand songs sung in over 10 languages.

After the Earthquake in Armenia, he gave 100 concerts benefiting the children and families affected. 

He has recorded 24 albums in different languages, mostly in Armenian, Italian and French. Among his well-known hits are “Chkuytik”, “Hayi Achker”, “Hayeren Ergenk”, “Ayp, Pen, Kim”, “Ay Maral Maral”, “Partir pour ne plus revenir” and others.

In 1974, he opens his 1st restarant in Paris called “Cappadocia”, followed by a 2nd to the chain just outside of the city in Alford. In 1980 he opened his 3rd restaurant on Saint Germain des Prés, in the heart of Paris so as to attract more local celebrities, called “Restaurant Yorgantz”.  Within the last 10 years, he also opened his latest restaurant, known as “Chez Yorgantz”, where both Italian and Armenian delicacies are served as he entertains with a pianist and guitarist by his side. To this day, Yorgantz will sing for concerts, dances and other festivities, alongside his constant appearance at piano bars around the city.

A Doctor with a Big Heart!

Source: http://www.armenianweekly.com/2013/04/06/the-story-of-mher-hakabyan-me/

On Sept. 20, 2012, Hrair Garabedian, an American-Armenian pediatric cardiologist from Spokane, Wash., was awarded the Medal of Mkhitar Heratsi by the president of Armenia. Hrair was honored for his devoted contribution to the development of the field of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery in Armenia over the past 20 years.

Hrair joined Arthur Halvajian and Alice Movsesian of the Eastern Region of Medical Outreach for Armenians, which was founded to help the injured victims of the devastating Armenian earthquake in 1988; 125 of those victims came to the United States for recovery. At that time, it quickly became apparent that there was a dire need for child and adult heart care. Medical Outreach decided to address the need in the pediatric heart field because the young are the future of a nation. Initially, over 400 children were brought to the United States for heart surgery, while at the same time the group set up a heart center in Armenia.

Dr. Hrair Hovaguimian, a cardiac surgeon from the United States, joined Medical Outreach shortly thereafter. The outcome of this cooperation was the establishment of the Nork-Marash Medical Heart Center. Dr. Hrair Hovaguimian heads this pediatric and adult heart center, and has been living in Armenia for more than 20 years.

Hrair Garabedian and Medical Outreach have also been heavily involved in the continuous development and advancement of the center facilities. Equipped with modern equipment and facilities, Nork-Marash is now one of the largest and most reputable centers in the Trans-Caucasian region, surveying more than 14,000 patients and performing more than 800 surgeries annually. Hrair visits Nork-Marash twice a year, and volunteers at his own personal expense, helping Armenian pediatric heart specialists to advance in new medical technologies. In recent years, his son, Dr. Carl Garabedian, has been traveling to Armenia on a yearly basis to contribute to and continue his father’s life-granting activities.