Draza Mihailovich and the Rescue of US Airmen during World War II

Draza Mihailovich and the Rescue of US Airmen during World War II

By Carl K. Savich

Introduction

In 1964 Richard L. Felman, a retired US Air Force Major, self-published a 46 page book 22 cm in size with illustrations in Tucson, Arizona, recounting the rescue of US airmen in Serbia during World War II. Felman published the book on his own, samizdat, because no publisher would accept the manuscript. The book was dismissed and ignored and is all-but forgotten today. The book was about the 1944 rescue of 513 US airmen and 83 Allied troops in Serbia by Serbian General Draza Mihailovich and his forces. The book was called Mihailovich and I. Felman was one of the 513 US airmen rescued at Pranjane by Mihailovich. The book presented a personal, first hand, eyewitness account of the Halyard Mission. The Halyard Mission was one of the most remarkable rescue operations in any war. The rescue of 596 Allied airmen and troops from Serbia and the Balkans was one of the largest rescues ever achieved in warfare. Nevertheless, the mission remains one of the least known and most covered-up event of World War II. No one wanted the story told. What was the Halyard Mission?

Felman

Major Richard L. Felman

Felman was not a historian or PhD or academic. He was merely an American citizen, a former soldier in the US Army Air Force, part of the “greatest generation”, seeking to chronicle an event that was censored and suppressed by the US government, the Yugoslavian government, and the mainstream academic community and historians who concocted and manufactured a falsified history of the Balkans. Why was the Halyard Mission covered-up? Why was the role of Draza Mihailovich censored and falsified?

Richard L. Felman was born in New York City on May 29, 1921 in the Bronx. He was a Jewish-American whose father David had been born in the US while his mother Dora had immigrated to the US from Poland/Russia. Felman would fly combat missions for the US Air Force in World War II and the Korean War. In 1944, he was shot down over Serbia while returning from a bombing run on the Ploesti oil-fields in Roumania, which supplied 80% of the oil for the German Wehrmacht. He was rescued and hidden from German troops stationed in German-occupied Serbia by Serbian General Draza Mihailovich, the leader of the nationalist guerrilla forces, the Home Army. During the Halyard Mission, Felman was flown out of Serbia to safety at US air bases in Italy. Following the war, he would be the President of the National Committee of American Airmen Rescued by General Mihailovich. In 1976 and 1977, this Committee proposed bills in the US Senate and House of Representatives that would recognize the contributions made by Mihailovich and his forces in the rescue of 513 US airmen. The US State Department, however, prevented the bills from passing. In a 1985 House of Representatives subcommittee hearing, the US State Department representative argued against recognizing Mihailovich in any way. Any recognition or even acknowledgment of Mihailovich was opposed by the Yugoslav government as well as Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, and Albanian lobby groups. Needless to say, the mainstream academic community, historians and researchers, the scholarly/academic elites, also opposed any recognition of Mihailovich because it would expose the falsity and inaccuracy of their research and undermine their theses. Felman continued to attempt to present an accurate picture of the role of Mihailovich in World War II until his death on November 13, 1999.

The 1944 rescue of 513 American airmen by Draza Mihailovich and his forces and their subsequent evacuation from the Pranjane airfield in Serbia is one of the most remarkable events of World War II and is one of the largest rescue operations of US troops from behind enemy lines in US history. Why has no movie been made of this remarkable event? Why is it censored and deleted from mainstream historical research about World War II? What is the story behind this long-suppressed and covered-up event of World War II?

Mihailovich and I: Richard L. Felman Reminisces about the Halyard Mission

Richard L. Felman enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on July 24, 1942 as an Aviation Cadet. He obtained his wings and a commission as 2nd Lieutenant on February 4, 1942. He was granted a leave before boarding a Boeing B-24 “Liberator” Bomber at Westover Field, Massachusetts bound for Mitchell Field in New York. The ten-man bomber crew consisted of Felman, Tech Sgt. Leonard E. “Tex” Pritchett, the flight engineer, from Spur, Texas, S/Sgt. Carl E. Astifan, the nose gunner, from Watertown, New York, Tech Sgt. Israel “Bronx” Meyer, the radio operator, from New York City, Staff Sgt. Thomas P. Lovett, the ball turret gunner, from Roxbury, Massachusetts, Roland Hodgson from Syracuse, Indiana, Lt. Kenneth Munn, the bombardier, from Winston, Missouri, James L. Kidd, Jr. from Medford Massachusetts, Preston D. Angleberger from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Paul F. Mato, the pilot, from South Connelsville, Pennsylvania. At Morristown, Florida, the crew opened their secret, sealed instructions which they were not to open until takeoff and after they were outside the three mile limit. They found out that they were assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group of the 15th US Army stationed in Lecce, Italy, stopping in Trinidad, Dakar, Marrakesch, and Tunisia en route.

After a brief orientation flight, the crew participated in 23 bombing/combat missions in more than a month in Yugoslavia, Roumania, Hungary, Austria, France, Germany, and Italy. Their B-24 Liberator Bomber was dubbed “Never A Dull Moment.” Their bombing mission of the Roumanian Astro Romano oil fields would take them over German-occupied Serbia. These were the instructions they received:

Gentlemen, our target for today is the Astro Romano oil refinery at Ploesti, Roumania … As you know our primary objective in strategic air warfare is to destroy the enemy’s war-making capacity to the extent that he will no longer have the will nor ability to wage war. The German machine runs on oil. Destroy his oil supplies and his entire system collapses. Ploesti supplies 80% of the enemy’s oil.

The crew then studied aerial photographs of the oil fields, they were briefed on the location and number of flak guns, where they would join up with their fighter escort, the location of German fighter bases, and the kind and quantity of weapons to be dropped. Felman recalled the “hot” intelligence reports that he received about Yugoslavia/Serbia:

There had been reports that Mihailovich and his Chetnik guerrillas were “cutting off the ears” of downed Allied airmen and turning them over to the Nazis.

Felman and the crew were instructed as follows: “If forced to bail out over that area we were instructed to seek out the guerrilla fighter with the red star on his hat, Tito’s men.” Felman expressed confusion at the time because he had read reports about Mihailovich that did not jibe with this intelligence report. In the May 25, 1942 issue, Mihailovich had been on the cover of Time Magazine in the US under the heading, “Mihailovich: Yugoslavia’s Unconquered” and was one of the major contenders for the title of Time’s Man of the Year. Joseph Stalin ended up the Man of the Year in 1942. But Mihailovich received massive media coverage in the US garnering very favorable popular support. In 1943, a Hollywood movie was released made by a major studio, Twentieth-Century Fox, called Chetniks—The Fighting Guerrillas which portrayed Draza Mihailovich and his forces as allies of the US. The film starred Philip Dorn, who played Papa in the 1948 classic I Remember Mama, as Draza Mihailovich and Anna Sten, Samuel Goldwyn’s answer to Greta Garbo, as his wife, “Lubitca Mihailovitch”, Jelica. The movie was directed by Louis King, a B movie director best known for directing the My Friend Flicka sequels in the 1940s and B westerns in the 1930s. The movie is listed by Blockbuster and is reviewed by Hal Erickson of All Movie Guide (AMG). Erickson wrote that the movie portrays Mihailovich as “a selfless idealist, leading his resistance troops, known as the Chetniks, on one raid after another against the Germans during WWII.” The film remains unavailable/unissued on video in large part because the role of Mihailovich in World War II was rewritten and revised after the war. The movie is no longer politically correct.

Allied policy towards Mihailovich had changed by the time of The Halyard Mission in 1944. Due to British pressure, the US abandoned Mihailovich and threw its support behind the Communist/Partisan leader Josip Broz Tito and his forces. Mihailovich was betrayed because the forces under Tito were supposedly killing more Germans according to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who backed Tito. Canadian historian David Martin showed that Jack Klugman, of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), based first in Cairo then in Bari, was a Communist mole who engaged in a policy of disinformation and sabotage regarding the reports from Yugoslavia. Klugman, a dedicated hardcore Communist, doctored and falsified intelligence information to sway support away from Mihailovich to Tito. Klugman was influential on Churchill, the BBC, the British Foreign Office, and the British Secret Intelligence Service (M16). He falsified information that alleged that Tito’s forces were holding down 24 crack German divisions in Yugoslavia. In fact, the Germans only had 8 under-strength divisions in Yugoslavia, made up also with Croatian, Bulgarian, Bosnian Muslim, and Albanian troops. The crack German divisions were always on the Russian Front where they remained until the end of the war. German forces in Yugoslavia were made up of lower grade troops who were needed as occupation forces, not elite combat forces. All the elite German units were in Russia. Communist/Partisan propaganda speaks of Partisan “offensives” against the German Wehrmacht. But the Germans held all the towns and all the major cities of Yugoslavia for the entire war. Sarajevo and Zagreb remained under German occupation until the very last days of the war. The Germans were driven out of Belgrade in October, 1944 by the advancing Russian Red Army. The Partisans had nothing to do with this action, although Partisan propaganda alleged that the Partisans captured Belgrade. Even against inferior, low-grade German divisions made up primarily of Roman Catholic Croats, the so-called German-Croatian “Legion” Infantry Divisions, the Partisans never won any battle and never drove out the German forces from any town or city in Yugoslavia. As for the spurious concept of “collaboration”, Martin found that Tito had sent a message in March, 1943 to the German command in Sarajevo requesting that the Germans and Partisans unite their forces to fight against a single enemy, Draza Mihailovich and his Home Army. Tito, moreover, pledged to fight any British amphibious invasion of Yugoslavia from the Adriatic. According to Martin, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop rejected Tito’s offer of collaboration.

Felman and his crew, with the addition of left waist gunner S/Sgt. Carl Walpusk, departed at 0513 hours from the US air base in Foggia as part of an air armada consisting of 250 bombers, the B-24 Liberator and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The formation crossed the Adriatic Sea into Yugoslavia where they changed course to avoid German flak artillery. The fighter escorts rendezvoused with the bombers at the Roumanian border where course was again altered to throw off the German ground tracking stations. The formation was then attacked by the 325 gun emplacements around Ploesti which opened fire on the armada. A squadron of German Messerschmitt ME-109 fighter planes were scrambled to meet the bombers. The crew of Never A Dull Moment dropped their bombs and began leaving the target area, heading for Serbia. Felman noticed a single B-17 outside the formation which he surmised was one of the two or three the Germans had captured and which were radioing their altitude to German gunners on the ground. Walpusk noticed what he thought were US North American P-51 Mustangs. In fact, they were German Messerschmitt ME-109s that began firing at the bombers with 30mm shells. The bomber suffered severe damage: The gas tanks were pierced, the aileron control was knocked out, there was no rudder, the fuselage, the left wing and the tail assembly were completely shot up. Felman and the crew abandoned ship, jumping at an altitude of 18,000 feet with a temperature of 30 below zero. Felman landed in the middle of a field greeted by 20 Serbian civilians, men, women, and children. Felman had been hit and could not move his left leg. Felman described this first encounter with Serbian civilians as follows:

The bearded men threw their arms around me and kissed me. They were grinning from ear to ear. The women and children stood back in awe. It was a wonderful feeling being with friends—or were they? I thought about the Intelligence briefing that morning: “Look for the man with a red star. The Chetniks will cut off your ears.” My hands started to reach up to protect my ears, but these wonderful people couldn’t be hostile. Besides, what choice did I have? As usual, Intelligence “goofed” again.

Felman was embraced and then carried about 500 yards to a cabin. He was given fruit, flowers and “slivovitz” which Felman described as “160 proof Serbian plum brandy.” Felman was then offered a crutch and taken to the Serbian Orthodox church in the village by an elderly man. Both men prayed in the small Serbian Orthodox church. Felman described the scene:

It was their chapel. We both knelt in humble prayer and gave thanks. Though separated by language, country and religion, the brotherhood of man was never more in meaningful evidence.

Felman then was introduced to Colonel Dragisha Vasich, who was made the Corps Commander of the Pranjane region by Draza Mihailovich. Vasich related to him the attitude of the Serbian people to the American forces:

He told me how honored his people were to have me there. How they cheered every time they saw the American bombers overhead en route to destroying our common enemy. … He then related how his people took to the hills in April 1941 after the Hitler invasion. How Mihailovich, as King Peter’s Minister of War had gathered together a guerrilla force of over 300,000 men and, though poorly equipped, had wreaked havoc on the hated Nazi. How Moscow-trained Tito suddenly appeared on the scene and declared himself the representative of the Yugoslav government. How Tito amounted to nothing more than a minor annoyance until the Big Three conference at Teheran in November 1943. Uncle Joe, seizing on the opportunity created by the chaotic conditions of wartime occupation and an absentia king, insisted we withdraw Allied support from Mihailovich and recognize his man Tito.

Mihailovich was gradually abandoned by the Allies, who threw their support to Tito and supplied his forces with weapons. Mihailovich had continued to fight on against both the Germans and Tito’s Communist Partisans.

Vasich informed Felman that a German garrison of 500 troops was stationed in the region while a larger garrison of 10,000 was located 10 miles away. German troops had located the downed bomber and had found the body of Thomas P. Lovett who had died when the bomber was attacked. The Serbian forces noted that 10 parachutes had emerged from the bomber. After the Germans had stripped the body of Lovett of possessions, the Serbian troops were able to retrieve the body and to bury it with a Serbian Orthodox priest officiating at the ceremony.

Vasich explained to Felman that Mihailovich was concerned about the Missing In Action (MIA) notices which would be sent to their families in the US so he would wire the name, rank, and serial number of the MIAs using a short wave transmitter to Cairo, which would in turn be sent to Constantine Fotich, the Yugoslav Ambassador to the US. After the war, Felman was informed by Fotich that he had received Mihailovich’s message and had submitted it to the US War Department. But because Mihailovich was not recognized by the US by that time, the message was discarded and ignored. Felman’s family was sent a MIA notice unnecessarily.

Eventually the remaining 10 crew members, including a photographer, were rescued. They were provided with food, which consisted chiefly of cheeses, black bread, vegetables, and plums, and lodging by Serbian civilians. By aiding the US airmen, the Serbian civilians faced execution by the German forces. Felman described these encounters with Serbian civilians by the crew:

All their questions were of America. They spoke of our country with reverence, awe and admiration. One of their favorite questions was: “How much does an average laborer in America earn?”

After three days, the German commander issued an ultimatum to the Serbian forces to turn over the 10 American airmen which the Germans too had seen parachuting into the area. The Serbs either had to turn over the 10 American airmen or “the Nazis would wipe out an entire village of 200 women and children.” For Felman the choice was an easy and obvious one and he prepared to surrender to the German forces. Being a POW in a German camp with the possibility of escape was worth it to save 200 Serbian lives. Mihailovich and Vasich, however, had decided not to turn the US airmen over. Vasich explained the difficult decision to Felman as follows:

He went on to explain how life is just as precious to the Serb as it is to the American. However, because it is so precious the price comes high. The Serb has spent virtually his entire history fighting off different enemies in order to protect his freedom and individual dignity. We in America who have not had it as often or so close to home may find it difficult to understand what appears on the surface a cruel thing. Life without freedom meant nothing to them…. Their choice was as simple as that. I had heard of it being better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees. I have never seen it more emphatically demonstrated.

The next day, German troops burned the Serbian village. Felman later recalled this event:

To this day, I can smell the terrible stench of their burning flesh. One does not forget such things.

Felman explained why the forces under Mihailovich had avoided direct attacks on German troops. At the start of the conflict, the Serbian guerrillas had engaged the German forces directly and had inflicted high casualties. The German command, however, responded with retaliations against the Serbian civilian population. For every German soldier killed, one hundred Serbs would be executed. In October, 1941, approximately 8,000 Serbian civilians, many of them schoolchildren in the city of Kragujevac, were rounded up and executed in retaliation for the killing of German troops. The cost became too high. So Mihailovich’s forces engaged in what Felman termed “Subtle Sabotage”, sabotage that could not be detected. Moreover, German troops would no longer be randomly attacked but the focus would be on German military officers and key military leaders. Felman actually participated in acts of Subtle Sabotage with Mihailovich’s Chetnik troops. He described how Chetnik forces had hollowed out pieces of coal and instead placed TNT in the core and deposited them on the coal car of a German transport train bound for Roumania. Finely ground-up gravel was placed on the axle gears of trucks and trains which would gradually breakdown.

The Evacuation from Pranjane

Felman and the other crew members began planning and organizing their evacuation from Pranjane once they had recuperated from their injuries. By this time, French, British, Canadian, Italian, and Russian airmen or escaped POWs from the German camp in Belgrade had joined the US airmen. The difficulty was establishing communication or contact with the US base in Bari, Italy, the Headquarters of the 15th US Air Force command. Mihailovich had a short wave transmitter but because he had been de-recognized by the Allies, he had no frequency or code to transmit his messages to the Allies. Finding no other way to make radio contact, they blindly transmitted the following message, risking detection by the German forces:

SOS…SOS…150 American crewmembers in need of rescue…many sick and wounded…advise…SOS…SOS.

They received no response. They then decided to devise their own code, referring to items that only they could know. They transmitted the code using information only known at the base to represent the letters. For example, the letter “A” was represented by the third letter in the name of the hometown of the bartender in Lecce. After three days, they finally received a reply:

Standby for aircraft 31 July 2200 hours…Only two days away…

Mihailovich dispatched 8,000 Serbian troops to protect the operation, which would be known as the Halyard Mission. Mihailovich then spoke to the US and Allied airmen to assure them of the cooperation of his forces and the assistance which they would provide. Felman described this meeting with Mihailovich as follows:

Here was a great man, but a simple man. A man of the people whose dignity and strength were not diminished by his humility….Here was the greatest guerrilla leader of all time, the Minister of War …discussing the affairs of state with over one hundred bearded, shabbily-dressed, average soldiers of a foreign country. He stared off into space as he related how he always admired the freedom-loving principles and ideals of America….He then related how disappointed he was at the way the Allied nations had abandoned him. How strange the bitter ironies of war, he thought out loud. During the time he was slaughtering thousands of German troops, Tito, a Russian agent, was a friend of the Nazi. One deceitful power play by Stalin and Tito becomes the fair haired boy in Yugoslavia. He was also well aware of the false reports Tito had broadcast about him and appealed to us to take back the truth to our homeland.

Mihailovich assured them that the German garrison of 6,000 troops at Cacak would not be able to reach the air strip because their vehicles could not traverse the terrain. The Germans would not attempt to infiltrate the mountainous terrain because of the danger of an ambush and because the Serbian forces were in a better position to engage in combat in hilly terrain. Felman gave Mihailovich his class ring while he received from him his dagger.

The next task was to find a suitable air strip where the US transport planes could land and take off. They then located a strip of land at Pranjane that was flat enough. The stretch of land was 1900 feet in length and 100 feet wide, a narrow plateau that was used for sheep and cattle grazing. They cleared the field and sought to expand it as much as they could. On August 2, they lit flare pots and the wind tee set up to signal the incoming aircraft. The plane dropped supplies. Three US Intelligence officers then appeared: Lt. George Musulin, of the Organization of Strategic Services (OSS), headed by Bill Donovan, Master Sgt. Michael Rajacich, an Intelligence Specialist, and Arthur Jibilian, a US Navy radio specialist, explaining the evacuation plan. Musulin had been the US liaison officer with Mihailovich before he was abandoned by the Allied countries and so was known in the Mihailovich camp. They would be evacuated by US C-47 transport planes. But in order for them to land on the Pranjane air strip, 300 additional feet of length was required. Everyone worked for 5 days to clear the additional space. There were 241 men that were to be evacuated. Each plane would carry 12 airmen with a priority given to the sick and wounded. Three German Stuka dive bombers reconnoitered the strip. But they left without returning.

On August 9, at 10PM, they heard the airplane engines and lit the flare pots. The first airmen were successfully evacuated. At dawn, a squadron of C-47 transport planes were accompanied by a 100 P-51 and P-38 fighter escorts, Mustangs and Lightnings. During the evacuation, 243 US airmen and 20 Russian, French, Canadian, Italian, British, and Serbian men were rescued and taken to Bari, Italy. Major General Nathan Twining, commander of 15th US Air Force, greeted the men on their arrival. Felman noted the ultimate irony and absurdity in the fact that on their way to pick up the airmen, the US planes had dropped supplies to Tito’s Partisan forces, which would be used against their rescuers, Mihailovich’s Chetnik forces. Felman stated: “How cruel, ignorant and ungrateful can our policy-making brain trust be?” Moreover, Felman noted that in The New York Times Tito was credited with destroying the ammunition dump and railroad terminal in Gorny Milanovatz. Felman stated that he had been part of the Chetnik sabotage team that had actually carried out the operation. This was another example of how news reporting was being falsified and manipulated in the Yugoslav conflict.

Felman arrived in Bari on August 10 and remained in a hospital there before returning to the US. In all, 513 US airmen were rescued along with 83 other Allied troops. The Halyard Mission was one of the largest and most successful rescue operations in US history. But it remained censored and suppressed. The cover-up of this operation continues.

Conclusion

The eyewitness accounts of Richard Felman were corroborated by US Army Colonel Robert H. McDowell, who was sent to Draza Mihailovich’s forces in August, 1944 and left in November, 1944. Before the war, McDowell had been a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he taught Modern Balkans History. He was sent to the Balkans because of his knowledge and expertise in the history of the region. He corroborated and supported Felman’s assessment of Mihailovich:

The undersigned has seen and heard of absolutely no evidence serving to connect General Mihailovich personally, or officers under his direct command, with any form of collaboration with the Germans.

Why then was this history falsified, censored, and manipulated by Western governments and the mainstream academic community, historians?

For Felman, the deception and patent falsification of the facts was the most salient feature of this event:

The most incredible part of our rescue was that before each mission, our bomber crews were briefed by the highest levels of American intelligence that if shot down over Yugoslavia, we were to stay away from the Serbian people as they were collaborating with the Germans and “cutting off the ears of American airmen” before turning them over. Only after we were shot down did we find out the amazing thoroughness with which the truth about the Serbs was being distorted. …Further complicating this distortion is the fact that while the Serbs were our allies in WWII, Croatians and Muslims (who we are favoring today) were allies of the Nazis, shooting at us and responsible for killing many of our fellow American fliers.

There was further corroboration of the Felman and McDowell accounts by the awarding posthumously of the Legion of Merit, the highest combat award the US government can bestow on a non-American national, on March 29, 1948 by US President Harry S. Truman to Draza Mihailovich on the recommendation of Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. This was how President Truman acknowledged the contribution of Mihailovich during World War II:

General Dragoljub Mihailovich distinguished himself in an outstanding manner as Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslavian Army Forces and later as Minister of War by organizing and leading important resistance forces against the enemy which occupied Yugoslavia, from December 1941 to December 1944. Through the undaunted efforts of his troops, many United States airmen were rescued and returned safely to friendly control. General Mihailovich and his forces, although lacking adequate supplies, and fighting under extreme hardships, contributed materially to the Allied cause, and were instrumental in obtaining a final Allied Victory.

The award of the Legion of Merit to Mihailovich by the US government was not revealed to the public by the US State Department. It was through the efforts of Felman and the other rescued US airmen that this award was made public. Why was there a massive US government cover-up about the Halyard Mission and the role of Mihailovich in that operation and during the conflict in Yugoslavia? Why this deception? Why were American citizens manipulated and hoodwinked by their own government? Moreover, why was the mainstream academic community, the historians and so-called scholarly elites, falsifying and censoring the history of World War II?

There were several factors for this massive and unprecedented US government cover-up of the role of Draza Mihailovich in World War II. First of all, the US State Department policy was to use post-World War II Yugoslavia, Tito’s Communist dictatorship, as a bulwark against the USSR, especially after the 1948 split. Thus, Tito had to be appeased. Second, the US deferred to the British in European matters during the war. The British made the decision to abandon Mihailovich, with the US somewhat reluctantly following suit. The British assessment was that supporting Tito would be more in the interest of Britain, advancing British foreign policy, than the alternative course of supporting Mihailovich. Indeed, British Col. S. W. Bailey even called for the assassination of Mihailovich to clear the way for Tito. The US, however, was not as anti-Mihailovich as the British. Bill Donovan of the OSS wanted to continue backing Mihailovich and to keep US options open. Moreover, Churchill established spheres of influence in Europe, awarding Yugoslavia to the Soviet sphere, after negotiations with Stalin. Churchill had to negotiate and compromise with Stalin because the Russians had done most of the fighting against the Third Reich and were poised to occupy all of Eastern Europe and move into Western Europe and demanded compensation or a quid pro quo. The head of Mihailovich was that quid pro quo in the Balkans. Mihailovich was the pawn that was sacrificed. Nothing personal, just neo-colonialist policies of spheres of influence. It must be remembered that the UK was the largest imperialist/colonial empire before World War II. This empire unraveled following the war. Third, the USSR backed Tito and the Communist Partisans because a Communist dictatorship regime would emerge in post-war Yugoslavia, which would advance the foreign policy goals of the USSR. Fourth, the Vatican had complicity in the mass genocide of hundreds of thousands of Serbian Orthodox civilians in Roman Catholic Croatia, in a system of concentration/death camps, the largest of which was Jasenovac. How can the Vatican support the military leader of the Serbian Orthodox population when the Vatican had just sanctioned and supported the mass murder of Serbian civilians by the Roman Catholic Ustasha through Zagreb Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac in the Vatican-recognized NDH? Parallel with the massive and unprecedented cover-up and distortion of the role of Draza Mihailovich in World War II is the cover-up of the Vatican-supported mass murders of hundreds of thousands of Serbian Orthodox civilians. Both cover-ups are interrelated.

The role of Draza Mihailovich in the rescue of 513 US and 83 Allied airmen has been censored and suppressed. There has been a massive and unprecedented cover-up of The Halyard Mission in Pranjane and of Mihailovich’s role in that event and in World War II in general. This large-scale cover-up and distortion was organized by the US State Department, the Yugoslav government, anti-Serbian and anti-Orthodox lobby groups in the US, and the mainstream academic community, motivated by bias, and hidden agendas and self-interested motives. We are all the victims of this cover-up.

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