A story, such as this of our nation honoring and recognizing a citizen for valor and contributions during World War II, should boost the pride of any patriotic American citizen. The full story is told in a 2007 book titled “The Forgotten 500” by Gregory Freeman.
Ninety-five year old George Vujnovich (VOOY’-noh-veech), of New York, was honored Sunday October 17, 2010 for Masterminding and spearheading the largest rescue of downed World War II pilots while behind enemy lines – the Nazi occupied Serbia then called Yugoslavia. And it was a sizeable venture.
The rescues, resulting from the Halyard Mission, are hailed as the largest of any war totaling more than five hundred saved pilots. The pilots were shot down while on bombing missions during the summer months of 1944. Their mission was directed at Hitler’s oil fields located in Romania, the source of 35 percent of Germany’s oil supply.
Major Vujnovich received the United States Bronze Star Medal presented at Manhattan’s St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Rep Joseph Crowley (D) NY 7th district pinned the medal.
Vujnovich says, “better now than never” speaking of his medal. “I’m sad because some of these men that we sent in are not here so they can share in this honor”.
Rep. Crowley summed up in his speech honoring Vujnovich stating, ” ‘Operation Halyard’ took place between August and December 1944 and was a complete success. Hundreds of men were rescued behind enemy lines and no lives were lost in the mission. The Halyard Mission was a success thanks to the brave men and women of the OSS and the courageous Serbian locals who risked their lives to safeguard American airmen. Thanks to a keen mind and tactical expertise, Major Vujnovich demonstrated the courage and selflessness that mark him as an American hero.”
Many thanks of gratitude to Major Vujnovich and all the people like him that has given unselfishly to the freedom of this nation. Salute to them all.
Read the fascinating story of Halyard Mission at Rescue Behind Enemy Lines.