To fully appreciate the magnitude of Serbia officially marking the 65th anniversary of the great rescues of American and Allied airmen on her soil in 1944, from behind Nazi occupied enemy lines, one would have to be familiar with just how “hidden” and “ignored” the pivotal contributions of General Mihailovich, his Chetnik forces, and the Serbian people loyal to them during WWII have been all these years in his own beloved homeland.
Thanks to the many years of dedication and perseverance of a number of individuals, both young and old, in America, Serbia, and abroad, the magnificentHalyard Mission is increasingly seeing the light of day in the public historical record and in the national consciousness. The truth is coming out, and with it a true story that all Americans and Serbs can be very proud of.
The following is part of the media coverage that the 65th anniversary commemoration received in Serbia. The coverage in both the English and Serbian language are included.
“The times,” as my friend Professor Peter Maher stated so eloquently, “are a changin'”.
And for the better, indeed!
From John Cappello
Lt Col, USAF
Air Attaché, DAO Belgrade
I would like to inform you of the memorial celebration that took place on Galovica Field, in Pranjani, Serbia on Saturday, August 15th, 2009.
To commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the beginning of the Halyard Mission, the US Embassy organized a wreath laying ceremony at the site of the first flights that rescued over 500 US airmen. With the assistance of the Serb Ministry of Defense and the Serb Ministry of Labor and Social Policy the event was a successful commemoration of the mission. It is important to note that this is the first time the Serb government has officially recognized and participated in such an event commemorating the partnership of US-Serb forces during this mission. It was a beautiful day in Pranjani, and there was a terrific turnout.
Here is an example of the press coverage of the event:
From “Radio, Television Serbia (RTS)“:
65th Anniversary of the Evacuation of 500 American Airmen
The 65th anniversary of Operation Halyard was marked on Saturday in Pranjani, near Gornji Milanovac, during which the joint team of Yugoslav Royal Army and American service evacuated more than 500American airmen during World War II, Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) reported.
The representatives of the US Embassy in Belgrade, the Ohio National Guard, the Serbian Government and Army of Serbia laid the wreaths on a monument in Pranjani.
Charge d’Affaires Jennifer Brush led the delegation of the American Embassy in Belgrade, and USAF Attaché John Capello was also present.
Brush said that America could never forget what Serbian people did for her airmen.
Some 1.000 members of the U.S. Air Force were struck down in the summer of 1944 above occupied Yugoslavia, and a significant number ended up in Serbia.
During a series of day and night flights, the joint team of the Yugoslav Royal Army in the country led by General Draza Mihailovich, and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), evacuated more than 500 American airmen from the village of Pranjani.
The rescue mission involved the action of a low-number of Allied troops against German forces and this jeopardized the whole village protecting the American military staff.
‘Operation Halyard‘ was marked as one of the most successful rescue missions from behind enemy lines in the history of warfare, RTS reported.