From the Miami-Herald article about Hialeah Police Lt. Leo Thalassites:
As soon as he felt a gun barrel poke his ribs, the cop broke out his fists of fury to crack ribs, knock out teeth and fracture a thug’s skull.
Not bad for an officer well into his 80s.
“I love to fight guys who are bigger than I am,” said Hialeah Police Lt. Leo Thalassites, 86, as he recalled fending off a robber outside a Greek restaurant in Coral Gables in 2010.
He disarmed the 6-foot-2, 250-pound “punk” and then beat him unconscious. “For more than half a century, I have taught officers to always be ready.”
Three generations of police officials were indeed ready, two weeks ago, when they crowded into Hialeah City Hall to honor the hulking Thalassites for being America’s oldest active cop.
The International Police Association confirmed that Thalassites is indeed the oldest active law enforcement officer in the United States.
A cross between Clint Eastwood and Jackie Chan, the barrel-chested Thalassites is a mixed-martial arts dynamo who started his police career with what was then known as the Metro-Dade Police Department in 1956. He transferred to Hialeah Police in 1963, and state records show he has been active with the department ever since.
“He’s a war hero,” said Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton, who handed Thalassites a plaque that read “oldest active police officer in America” that included his dates of service, a badge and a baton. “Now don’t hit anybody with that.”
Though Thalassites carries a Colt .45 that was issued to him in the Korean War, he has never had to use it on duty. Rather, he has always relied on something far more dangerous, according to Hialeah Police Lt. Carl Zogby, “fists that are weapons of mass destruction.”
Zogby added that Thalassites earned three Purple Hearts — two in WWII and one in Korea — and competed in the Olympics trials for the 1964 Tokyo Games, representing the U.S. in Greco-Roman wrestling. Last year, he was named to the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.
The one thing no one joked about is his unfailing belief in God. His father, George Thalassites, was a seventh-generation priest who served Miami’s Greek community in the 1940s. He also taught combat fighting to elite Greek soldiers.
The younger Thalassites couldn’t learn to write Greek well enough to be a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church, so his father gave him two tasks as he pursued an alternate path in life: Put Jesus first before anything else in life and take care of your body.
Since then, Thalassites has risen at 4 a.m. every day to pray. Then he runs a few miles, lifts weights and punches a heavy bag before eating measured portions of chicken and vegetables. He has maintained the same weight, 178 pounds, for more than 50 years.
I encourage you to go read the entire piece about this hero here. Not only is Thalassites a hero in civilian uniform, he’s also served this country in all five branches of the military, in both World War II and Korea. This man is really something, and a true role model for all young men and women everywhere.