Friday, September 29, 2006

Canadian airmen rescued by Draza Mihailovich wanted to testify

From the Canadian Press

By Les Wedman
Edmonton Journal
May 11, 1946
Because they feel that they owe their lives to General Draza Mihailovich’s efforts when they were shot down in flames over Yugoslavia, two Edmonton air force veterans, Norman Reid and Tom Bradshaw, have petitioned the Canadian Government to be allowed to testify at the trial of the Chetnik leader in Yugoslavia for treason.

The youthful airmen bailed out of their plane over East Serbia in May, 1944, and 98 days later were back at their Italian air base at Foggia. With the war on, they never said how they got out of Yugoslavia, but Tuesday, ex-F.O. Reid, just back from Washington and Ottowa, told the full story.

Reid and Bradshaw, together with two American airmen and the assistance of Mihailovich, arranged for the mass evacuation from the hastily prepared airfield at Pranjani of 243 Allied airmen, all of them hiding from the Germans.

Last week, when the call came in to the city veterans from the Committee for a Fair Trial for Draza Mihailovich, they hopped a plane for Washington where they saw James Byrnes, U.S. Secretary of State.

Reid and Bradshaw were the only Canadians in a delegation of 20 speaking for more than 600 Allied fliers who were spirited out of Yugoslavia by Chetnik forces and who now wish to testify on Mihailovich’s behalf.

Reid said Mr. Brynes assured them the United States Government would appeal to the Yugoslav Government for a fair trial for the Chetnik leader. The airmen also said ‘There is a great sympathy in the United States for Mihailovich.’

Famed columnist Dorothy Thompson is honorary chairman of the Committee which paid the expenses of Reid and Bradshaw to make their appeals. The money has come from public donations all through the United States, Reid said.

Others on the Committee include Sumner Welles, Justice Ferdinand Pecora, Bishop William T. Manning, William Green, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, William Phillip Simms, Clare Booth Luce, John Dos Passos, Miriam Hopkins, Eddie Dowling, John Dewey, Roger Baldwin, Norman Thomas.

‘We’re not interested in Mihailovich’s politics. We are part of 600 airmen who were saved by him, and all we ask is a fair trial. We’re not saying the man is innocent or guilty. If the trial is going to be fair, just and democratic, we can’t see why we can’t be witnesses,’ Reid asserted.

That’s the case they laid out before Norman Robertson, Under-secretary of State for External Affairs in Ottowa, who said the matter would be taken up with the Yugoslav Government.

The airmen’s petition said that during the 98 days with the Chetniks ‘we experienced only the utmost kindness and saw only the utmost devotion to the Allied cause…the debt we owe to General Mihailovich is the greatest debt one man can possibly owe another.’

They said ‘It is our moral obligation to appear as witnesses for the defense at the forthcoming trial,’ and they ask the Yugoslav Government what arrangements can be made for them to appear.

‘There are 600 airmen and scores of veterans of the Office of Strategic Services who were parachuted into Yugoslavia to organize guerrilla warfare for the Allies – willing to testify,’ Reid said.

After Reid and Bradshaw joined forces with the Chetniks they traveled 25 hours dodging German patrols and planes, and after a time decided to get out of the country.

‘Mihailovich told us where a British Mission was located, and we went there to find it gone. Relations with Mihailovich apparently had been broken,’ Reid recalled.

‘We started hiking for the coast, but then went back to Mihailovich’s headquarters, where with two American fliers, we figured some way to get out.’

‘Mihailovich had an old transmitter and radio receiver and for days we sent messages out trying to reach Italy, but no one answered. Finally they did and after we had identified ourselves, they told help would come.’

‘Mihailovich showed us a field we could use as an airstrip, and hundreds of peasants went to work leveling off bumps, filling in holes and chopping down trees. We got some old maps from the General and over the radio sent our longitude and latitude and arranged times and signals for the rescue.’

‘On August 2nd, 1944, an American plane came over and dropped supplies and two men, complete with radio. The big night was set for a week later.’

‘Mihailovich sent out orders to his men throughout the country to bring all Allied airmen they were hiding to the airfield. On August 9th three planes landed and evacuated more than 60 Allied fliers. We put the wounded aboard first, and then those who had been shot down the longest.’

‘The day before German planes had been scouting the field and we expected trouble. On August 10th, the 15th U.S.A.A.F. made a heavy diversionary raid, and while the raid was on six transport planes with fighter escort came over the field.’

‘About 3,000 Chetniks guarded the roads all around, and the 18 Mustang fighters kept watch in the air until we were all on board…243 altogether, including two Russians,’ Reid said.

He said that Mihailovich was never repaid in any way and that despite the fact that he was getting no Allied help, he evacuated other Allied airmen at a later date.

Reid said that stories of the Chetniks turning Allied prisoners over to the Germans for cigarettes ‘make me boiling mad.’ He said ‘they had plenty of chances to do that to us, but they did all they could to help us. We saw them fight Germans to rescue airmen from the Nazis and we saw no signs of weapons or supplies received from the Germans.’

‘Even if those things were true, we want Mihailovich to get a fair trial. That’s all we ask.’

By Les Wedman
Edmonton Journal
May 11, 1946


NOTE from Blog author: The airmen’s request to be present as witnesses for the defense at the Trial of Draza Mihailovich in Belgrade was ultimately denied, despite their efforts. They were not allowed to attend to present their personal accounts of what had transpired during their time in Yugoslavia in 1944 while in the company of General Mihailovich and his Chetnik forces. The trial proceeded without them and Mihailovich was found “guilty” and executed on July 17, 1946 by the Yugoslav communists.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Allied Debt to General Draza Mihailovich

The Three Things
That Must Be Considered in Evaluating
The Greatness of Mihailovich

By Lt. Col. Albert B. Seitz

There remains little for the physical record of Draza Mihailovic; sparkplug of resistance; abandoned Minister of War to the throne of Yugoslavia.

On April 18, 1946 a news item appeared in Il Giornale della Sera in Rome from an unidentified Yugoslav source. It reported that on 13 March, after a sustained air-ground attack, in which poison gas was used, Mihailovic had been captured with eleven living followers. They were all that remained of a force of 1020 men. He became a martyr in July.

Three things must be considered in evaluating the greatness of Mihailovich.

First - He set the example for Europe and its conquered people in resistance.

Second - He was of incalculable benefit to Russia in defeating Germany. His revolt at Ravna Gora caused Hitler to delay his time table of attack on Russia from April to June of 1941, with the result that the Germans found themselves stalled outside Moscow in the middle of the bitter Russian winter. That precious time and the subsequent siphoning of 30 sorely needed Axis divisions to keep the Yugoslavs quiet plus the lend lease from the Allies, was the saving grace of a nation whose salvation was of questionable usefulness to the world.

Third He was a bulwark to the British in their North African Campaign. With Europe occupied, the Germans were able to turn their attention to the Italian war effort in North Africa. In June 1942 Rommel and his Africa Korps in a long counter offensive against Ritchie, had captured Tobruk with 25,000 and pushed on within 70 miles of Alexandria. Auchinleck replaced Ritchie, with Cunningham and Tedder commanding sea and air components. There was no cause for British optimism as the build-up of her ground and air had been seriously influenced by her disastrous campaign in Greece which had cost her 50,000 men.

Mihailovich was asked to harass the Germans in this area and retard the flow of supplies through the Vardar Valley to Salonika. How well he did this was attested to by radio messages from Auchinleck, Cunningham and Tedder on 16 August 1942.

By October Allied reinforcements swelled the British command in North Africa sufficiently to permit Montgomery to match strength with Rommel in El Alamein. With the Allied landing in French North Africa on 8 November the Axis were through in Africa.

During this period Mihailovich suffered 20,000 casualties stopping the German supply route, and on 16 December 1942, 2500 hostages were executed by the Nazis in Belgrade.

These are debts of Britain and her Allies! To Mihailovic not Tito.


Lt. Col. Albert B. Seitz of the O.S.S. parachuted to Chetnik headquarters in September of 1943 as a member of the American military mission to Mihailovich. The preceding text is from Chapter XXXIII of Mihailovich: Hoax or Hero by Lt. Col. Seitz.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Charges of Partisan Collaboration with the Germans during World War Two in Yugoslavia

Lt. Colonel Robert H. McDowell was head of the United States Ranger Mission Intelligence unit sent in to the Yugoslav Nationalist Forces [the forces under General Mihailovich and other Nationalist commanders], between August 26 and November 1, 1944. The following is an excerpt from the McDowell Report that was written in November of 1944 and given to William J. Donovan, director of the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S) in the United States.


Among intellectuals and officers contacted a principal charge brought against Yugoslav Communists [the Partisans] was to the effect that they were traitors in a double sense – they had served both Russia and Germany. Specifically there were two charges: (a) attempts to induce soldiers and civilians not to resist the Germans on the grounds that it was not a ‘people’s war’ (until Germany attacked Russia in June, 1941) (b) cooperation with the Gestapo and denunciation of Nationalist resistance leaders.

Details on the first charge have been given to the undersigned by at least six individuals covering incidents in Belgrade, the Banat, Ljubljana, Mostar, and Berane. The informants appeared to be respectable and reliable characters and each claimed to have been an eyewitness. In the Belgrade incident the informant was a girl, a student at the University who took part in street demonstrations in favor of Yugoslavia’s entrance into the war. She alleged that Belgrade communists organized a counter demonstration denouncing the war during which she was severely beaten by communists; leaving scars which are still visible. The other informants included a Socialist engineer from Ljubljana, a chemist from Berane, and a Moslem doctor from Mostar. General accusations of a similar sort were made by numerous contacts, and it is clear that the charge is sincerely believed by Serb Nationalists. In view of the facts that Communists in America and Britain pursued the same line and that the Yugoslav Communists have produced no evidence that Tito, then Secretary-general of the Party, took any part in resistance to the Germans until after the attack on Russia, considerable credence must be given to this charge.

The charge that Yugoslav Communists have assisted the German Gestapo in tracking down undercover agents of General Mihailovich in Belgrade is widely made in Nationalist circles. Leaders of the Nationalist underground movement in Belgrade told one member of the mission that they could furnish the names of Communists now serving the Gestapo in this respect. Several individuals who had been held in the German concentration camp for Nationalists at Belgrade related to the undersigned numerous stories supporting the charge. Finally, the German representative with whom the undersigned held conversations, as a part of his denunciation of the Gestapo and the SS officers, stated that these German elements in Yugoslavia and throughout southeastern Europe maintained relations of this sort with the local Communists whom the Germans were supposed to be eradicating. In view of past known instances of collaboration between Nazis and Communists this statement justifies further investigation. On the basis of the evidence available the undersigned does not consider the charge substantiated, but for the purposes of this study it remains significant that the Nationalists sincerely believe the Yugoslav Communists to be double traitors who have sent patriotic Yugoslavs to death at the hands of Germans.

Lt. Colonel Robert H. McDowell
Military Intelligence
November 23, 1944


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mihailovich had more faith in the Americans. The Mansfield Report addresses reportage of Chetnik and Partisan activity against the Nazis

The following is an excerpt from The Mansfield Report March 1, 1944. Lieutenant Walter R. Mansfield was the first American liaison officer sent in to the forces of General Draza Mihailovich, beginning what was to become the American Mission to Mihailovich. He arrived in Yugoslavia on August 18, 1943 and left on February 15, 1944. Lieutenant Mansfied spent the first half of his six month stay in Yugoslavia at the General Staff Headquarters with General Mihailovich and the last half of his stay inspecting the Chetnik troops out in the field. In March of 1944 Mansfield submitted an official report detailing his six-month experience with Mihailovich and his Chetnik forces along with his observations and conclusions. Below is an excerpt from that report regarding reportage of Chetnik and Partisan activity against the Germans in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia during World War Two.

Aleksandra Rebic

“In the meantime [September 1943] Mihailovic had sent out a general order to his troops throughout Yugoslavia to attack lines of communication, and German troops. I had a copy of this order translated and sent home a signal about it. Thereafter, for several days, Mihailovic was showing me radio reports from all of his Korpus commanders reporting extensive sabotage and attacks on small German columns throughout Serbia, Hercegovina, Bosnia and Dalmatia; that several trains were derailed in south Serbia; that a large number of German lorries were destroyed, and several villages and towns taken. Commanders in Bosnia and Dalmatia were complaining bitterly about being attacked in the rear by Partisans [Tito’s forces], while Chetniks were fighting Germans. For example, they stated that after taking Gacko and driving the Germans toward Bileca, Partisans walked into Gacko and claimed they had taken it from the Germans.

While this all was going on, BBC London, on its Yugoslav news program, began an extensive program of Partisan news, devoting its attention almost exclusively to reports that the Partisans were fighting the Germans everywhere, and taking numerous cities and towns from the Germans throughout the region of Bosnia, North Hercegovina, and Dalmatia. Mihailovic was never mentioned, despite the fact that his intelligence reports were to the effect that he had taken many towns, such as Berane, Priepolje, and Gacko; and had carried out the above mentioned operations. The American station WRUL was reporting both Chetnik and Partisan operations at this time, but it was so weak that it could be heard only infrequently.

At this time Mihailovic asked me to see him at a conference with his Staff. He was furious at the British because of the BBC news, and showed me intelligence reports from his own commanders indicated that some of the BBC news was false. He asked me whether it would be possible to have a group of American observers come in solely for the purpose of going out with his troops to see for themselves the operations which he was conducting and report back intelligence to my government. He stated that he felt further talk with the British on the subject would be useless because it was quite apparent to him that the British had sold him down the river to Stalin. I told him that I would report the matter home for consideration by my chief. I immediately revealed our entire conversation to the British Mission and sent home a signal.

From this point on there was complete distrust of the British by Mihailovic, his staff, and his area commanders. The feeling toward the Americans, on the other hand, was one of intense friendship. Time and again, both Mihailovic and his officers stated that they felt that America was the only democracy left which would take a fair and unbiased view of what was going on in the country..."


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Captain George Musulin awarded the Legion of Merit for command of Halyard Mission

Captain George ("Guv") Musulin was the Commanding Officer of the Halyard Mission, the evacution operation that successfully rescued hundreds of Allied airmen, including some 500 American flyers from Nazi occupied territory in Yugoslavia during World War Two. He entered military service from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and passed away in McLean, Virginia in February of 1987 at the age of 72.

Legion of Merit Citation awarded to

George S. Musulin, 0519461, 1st Lieutenant, AUS, Office of Strategic Services, while attached to Company B, 2677th Regiment, OSS (Provisional), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services.

‘Lt. Musulin’s descent by parachute into enemy-occupied territory,
(Yugoslavia), where he remained from 2 August 1944 to 27 August 1944, his leadership, his courage in the face of heavy odds, and his resolute conduct in the face of great peril in the successful accomplishment of an extremely hazardous and difficult mission, exemplified the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States.’


Thursday, September 14, 2006


WWII veteran Major Richard Felman at the

Halyard Mission 50th anniversary

celebration in Chicago, IL May 31, 1994

Photo taken by R. Rebic


Transcription of Speech by Aleksandra Rebic

“Distinguished guests…
Very Distinguished guests…
Reverend Clergy…
Fellow airmen who were with me when we were shot down
over Yugoslavia in 1944 and
Bracho i Sestre (Brothers and Sisters)…

Before I say a single word, I must first express my everlasting gratitude to the City of Chicago and the Department of Defense today, for honoring the Halyard Mission. Until now, one of the most glorious moments in American history has been one of the best kept secrets of World War Two.

Today, in Chicago, U.S.A., a dream came true for our group of former MIAs. There is no way to describe the enormous significance of what happened today at Daley Plaza. After 50 years, those of us who participated in the Halyard Mission reached the top of the mountain after a long journey to repay a long overdue debt of honor…Our debt is not only a personal debt, it is a national debt of the United States government and its people. It took Moses only 40 years to reach the Promised Land…it took us a little longer…


Today, we’ve reached the promised land…recognition of the greatest rescue of American lives from behind enemy lines in the history of warfare.

Just imagine the significance of what I just said. Over 500 Americans and 250 Allied personnel were saved from behind enemy lines, and to this day, it’s been covered up and nobody knows about it. The American people do not know about it to join us in saying ‘Thank you.’

As we laid the wreath today in Daley Plaza, we not only honored the Halyard Mission and those saved by it, we also honored those responsible for saving us, and I am thrilled to see so many of those people sitting in our audience today. It’s difficult to communicate the emotion that the airmen feel at being joined with the Serbian chetniks who rescued us. Today, for the first time, we saw them, after fifty years. How do you say ‘Thank you’?

How do you say ‘Thank you’ to the people that saved your life? Some people say to me, ‘Why are you doing this after fifty years?’ When somebody saves your life, what do you say – ‘Thank you, Charlie, I’ll see you tomorrow?’ When people thank me for doing a wonderful thing for the Serbs, I don’t buy that. If it weren’t for the Serbian people, I wouldn’t be here.

Felman gets teary eyed. Applause…

Today is the first time in fifty years that the American airmen and the Serbian chetniks are gathered in one place. This is a tremendous event. I wish I could communicate…

Milton Friend tells me before I started ‘I know this is a long session, but could I squeeze in two minutes?’ Milton, please, say two words –

….Milton Friend, one of the rescued airmen, says from the audience, ‘I’m happy to be here, Dick.’

It’s hard to transmit…I get all choked up, but if these chetniks hadn’t of risked their lives, the airmen you see in this room wouldn’t be here…the airmen that they saved across the country wouldn’t be here…neither would their children or grandchildren, who today can walk freely in this country. They are living memorials of the Halyard Mission and the fact that the Serbian people saved them. They are walking in this country today because of General Mihailovich and the Serbian chetniks.

…..much applause….

And to me, today, in Daley Plaza, American honor was served. I say that, because today, for the first time in memory, the American people could join us in a public forum to say ‘Thank you General Mihailovich and the Serbian people for saving 500 American lives while we were fighting in defense of our country.’

Nobody else, in the entire history of the United States government as ever said that, and today the American people joined us on saying ‘Thank you, and we appreciate it.’

If I digress once in a while, I hope you’ll bear with me. I get very emotional about these events, and it’s hard to follow a prepared few notes that I put down, so please forgive an old fogey to get through a very difficult time…


Let me tell you how I first got involved in the Halyard Mission. In early 1944, I completed my flight school training and was given a shiny pair of silver wings and a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. Next thing I knew, I found myself in Lecce, Italy with the 98th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force, flying B-24 bombing missions over southern Europe.

Early one morning, before a pre-takeoff briefing on a mission to Ploesti, our American Intelligence officer told us we would be flying over Yugoslavia that day, and to stay away from the Serbian people, because the Serbian people would cut off the ears of the American airmen! These were his exact words. This was the information that American Intelligence gave to the bomber crews that were flying out of Italy. The Serbian people will cut off your ears!


Now, I heard this, and this is a complete about face from what I had read in Time Magazine. Time Magazine had a cover story on May 25th of 1942 calling General Mihailovich the greatest guerrilla leader in the history of warfare. So, I said to my Intelligence officer, ‘How come I read this in the paper and all of a sudden he does an about face?’ He said to me, ‘Lieutenant, don’t ask questions, just fly your mission. We have reports, top secret reports from British Intelligence…

rumbling in the audience…

that Mihailovich is now collaborating with the Germans, see…’ He says, ‘In wartime, these guys, they play around, so just be careful…If you get shot down over Yugoslavia, stay away from the Chetniks. Look for the people with the red star on their hats…Tito’s communists (the partisans)….’

…….rumbling in the audience….

I remember this, fifty years ago. I mean, I don’t remember what I did last night, but I remember this fifty years ago….

……laughter, applause…..

Just after that briefing, we flew off, we bombed Ploesti, we were flying back, we were shot down by the Germans…. I parachuted down from 20,000 feet. The next thing I know I was in Serbia, among the Serbian Chetniks, and the first thing I did was to reach for my ears…


Not only did they not cut them off, as you can see, but they grabbed me up, kissed me, put me on their soldiers like a conquering hero…To this day, I could never figure out, why only did the Serbian men kiss me, why didn’t the women kiss me!?

…….laughter…from the audience someone speaks out ‘I’ll tell you later!’ More laughter….

Since that time, to expose this treacherous propaganda lie, the American airmen have been doing every possible thing we could to expose the thoroughness with which the truth was manipulated by the communists during World War Two. Let me give you a concrete example: I don’t believe what I read in the papers…I know what I see…


Let me tell you some techniques of communist propaganda. I went on some raids with General Mihailovich and the Chetniks…We raided a few German garrisons, forts…very successful…We came back. The next day or so, we turn on the shortwave radio. BBC from London says: ‘Tito’s partisans just completed a successful raid at such and such a village’ – the same place we went to just the night before…that’s how the truth was manipulated. Now, let me tell you, how would you feel – I just saw something, and the news reports say ‘This didn’t happen, something else happened.’
Someone from the audience speaks out -- ‘Just like today, just like

Major Felman smiles and says “I’ll get to that in a minute.’’

Supposing you go to Soldier’s Field here in Chicago. You see the Chicago Bears beat Denver in football. You get home, you put on CNN and they say ‘Today, the Denver Broncos wiped out the Chicago Bears.’


They completely distorted history. Today I’m still baffled by it. Now, the only thing wrong with it was that this was not a football game…this was the Serbian people I lived with – and the Chetniks would fight for their country and their freedom, and the Tito’s communists would get credit for it! To this day, this aggravates me. And it’s happening today too, believe me.


As the war stepped up, and we had raids of 250 bomber planes occurring every day in southern Europe, more and more airmen were being shot down over Yugoslavia. Many were sick and wounded and in constant danger of being captured by the Germans.
The Americans who were shot down – we had no idea how and if we were ever going to get rescued. Let me explain to you how we faced the difficulty of how we would get back to Italy. We were deep in occupied territory. We had no prearranged rescue plan. And you can’t go to the corner phone booth and call up 15th Air Force headquarters and say, ‘Hey, we’re down here in Chachak, come rescue us.’ They don’t know where we are. I was in Chachak, Pranjani, Breznica, Gornji Milovac – all familiar names, I’m sure, to some of you. But more importantly, the very friendly people that we were with, that were saving our lives, were abandoned by the Allies, because of the – can I use the word – screwed up intelligence of the British.


So the days, weeks, and months rolled by, and more and more airmen were getting shot down. We tried to contact headquarters back in Italy, but as I say, if we broadcast in the clear, number one, the Germans would intercept it. Number two, the Americans in Italy would say, ‘well maybe this is a trap.’ So, we couldn’t very well transmit in the clear. We were lucky – a brilliant man by the name of T.K. Oliver – he devised an ingenious system of American slang that the Germans could not intercept. Well, they could intercept it, but they couldn’t understand it. But the Americans could, and once they understood it, and approved of it – they said, ‘this is a legitimate transmission, and they formed the Halyard Mission, the secret Halyard Mission, and the rescue was on. At this time there were some 250 of us airmen who had been downed.

The next thing we knew was that the night of August 2, 1944, Lieutenant George S. Musulin – his family…Oh, God…

Major Felman becomes visibly moved.

His family is sitting right here. George parachuted in our area with two other members of the rescue team: Mike Rajachich and Arthur Jibilian. They brought with them a radio transmitter, an agreed upon code, and an evacuation plan. At the sign of Musulin’s team coming in – we didn’t know if anyone was coming in to rescue us, but when we saw George, we knew we were not being abandoned and that we were going to get rescued eventually. So when he came in, we let out a yell – you wouldn’t believe it – we knew that we were getting out of this place.

The sad part of it was that there was a long delay before he came in. We found out later that the reason that George Musulin and his team were delayed was because the British objected to it. They objected to it, because they no longer recognized General Mihailovich. So, how could they send in an Allied team to someone that didn’t exist? So they objected to our being rescued. The only way it got approval, was that it went up to the White House, and President Roosevelt interfered, and said ‘I don’t give a blank about what the British care – I don’t care about embarrassing them – to me the most important thing is saving American lives – the hell with the British!’


I might add that after the war, Churchill admitted that abandoning Mihailovich was one of the biggest mistakes he had made of the war.


Then on the night of August 2nd, August 9th, I’m sorry, Captain Nick Lalich was went in by the O.S.S. to assist Musulin in the rescue operation. Once they were in place, Lalich, then later Colonel McDowell, working together with Mihailovich’s Chetniks, rounded up the Americans and other Allied personnel to carry out the most successful rescue operation of its kind in history. The other Allied personnel [to be rescued] consisted of British, French, Canadian, Italian, and Russian troops.

When we came back to our base, there was no way we could talk about it, about our rescue, or express our gratitude, because our rescue had been classified top secret. Then when the war was over, we couldn’t tell anybody, because no one cared. But that wasn’t the end of the Halyard Mission, because as you know, it’s continuing to this very day, and there’s still one more chapter we’d like to finish – of national recognition of the Halyard Mission.


Before I get into that phase of it, I would like to share with you the one experience that stands out in my mind about the people that saved our lives.

Returning that day from bombing Ploesti, we were attacked by a group of German M-109 Messershmitts, caught fire, and were forced to bail out over 20,000 feet. The mention of it scares me, but I was a little younger then…


The Germans were in the villages, and they counted our parachutes as they came down. They knew where we were, but they couldn’t get to us. So they sent an ultimatum down to General Mihailovich. It said, ‘we know you have ten Americans. Either you return them to us, or we burn down a village of 200 women and children.’ Now, when we heard this, we said, ‘well we’re strangers in a foreign land. How can we be responsible for killing 200 women and children.’ We figured, well, we’ll turn ourselves in. The worst that can happen to us is a prisoner of war camp. Maybe we’ll escape, but no harm could come to us.

General Mihailovich said, ‘No, absolutely no.’ He said, ‘Let me tell you something about the Serbian people. We’ve been fighting our entire history for freedom – ever since Kosovo, Saint Sava, Tsar Lazar – we’ve been fighting for our freedom, our country, and our land. We have a saying, ‘Bolje grob nego rob.’ (Better the grave than to be a slave.)

He said, ‘Life without freedom means absolutely nothing to the Serbian people.’ He said, ‘If we return you to your base, and you drop one bomb on our common enemy, the German invader, you’ll do more for our country and our freedom than the 200 women….
Major Felman begins to break down…
…’the 200 women and children that we love.’ He said, ‘That is our choice.’ And, the next day, I watched the Germans…Oh, God…

Felman pauses to compose himself.

The next day I watched the Germans burn down a village of 200 innocent women and children. You know, you never forget that. Fifty years later, it still bothers me. Today, when I laid that wreath at Daley Plaza, I dedicated it to those 200 women and children. That’s the price paid for our freedom today, in this country.
And not too many people know and are grateful for it.

I may be running over my time, but I’m not going to stop until I finish what I have to say, and they can pull me off.
,,,,much applause…

Everyone of the airmen sitting here and throughout the country...I believe I can speak with one voice, for every one of them...They will join me in saying that throughout the entire time we were evading capture, no sacrifice was too great for the Serbian people in making us comfortable. It was they who sheltered us in the hills and in their farmhouses, often at great risk to themselves. Those of us who were wounded received whatever medical supplies were available. If there was on e slice of bread in the house, or one egg, it went to the American. If there was one blanket or one bed, it went to the American while our Serbian host slept on the bare ground. Many of the peasants were tortured, tortured to death, because they would not tell the Germans where we were. The many heroic stories and sacrifies made on our behalf is something the airmen will never forget.

I recall these sacrifices of 50 years ago every time I read in today's American press that the Serbs are murderers and some sort of two headed monsters.

- -applause --

Those that we met were all fine, decent, God-fearing people who were fighting for their freedom and their country. Were it not for them, there would not have been a Halyard Mission, nor would we have survived the war.

To all those all-knowing political analysts and politicians who were in their diapers, literally, when World War Two was going on, they know absolutely nothing about the people and the war. I would say to them, if they want to know anything about the Serbian people, to talk to the thousands of American grandchildren who are alive today because of these monsters they are condemning.

I would also tell them in the strongest possible terms about the anguish that we Americans would feel to see our fellow Americans go charging with their guns blazing, to kill some of the very Serbian people who saved our lives. I don't believe our government should return their kindness and sacrifice by killing them.

-- applause --

I was very hesitant, because the American airmen have dissasociated themselves from anything political. Our only purpose - we're not making a political statement -- our one goal is the expression of gratitude for 500 Americans. That's all we want. But because of the situation today, I cannot refrain from saying something about the people who saved our lives. These are the people, who, when we were in trouble, helped us, and we cannot deny them today. To deny the Serbian people who saved us would be like denying the Holocaust ever happened. The Serbian people saved us. There's no two ways about it. This is the message we're trying to get across today -- Gratitude. I often say if it wasn't for the American airmen, the politicians in Washington would be speaking German today.

-- applause --

After the war was over, as you know, we turned over the government of Yugoslavia to the communists. They seized upon the opportunity to capture Mihailovich, and in March of 1946, Tito announced to the world that they had captured Mihailovich and were putting him on trial as a war collaborator.

The immediate response was that the airmen he had rescued ran to the newspapers, saying "How can this be?" I have a book here, a thousand newspaper clippings from 1946 of airmen in the newspapers asking 'How can this be?' 'How can this man who saved our lives be a war collaborator? We want to go to Belgrade. We want to testify on his behalf. This man saved our lives!' We don't want to be presumptuous and say - we want to interfere in your internal affairs -- but, the government of Yugoslavia was charging him with being a collaborator! How could he be a collaborator ? Our lives were a testimony that he wasn't. So, we don't want to judge him, we just want to present testimony that our lives were relevant to the charges of collaboration.'

So we flew to Washington. We chartered a plane from Chicago, called it 'A Mission for Mihailovich.' There were 22 of us Allied personnel. Two were from Canada. Norman Reid here from the Royal Canadian Air Force... and twenty Americans flew to Washington. We were met by congressmen and senators, and we petitioned the State Department to send a diplomatic note to Yugoslavia to request permission to appear at his trial, presenting evidence relative to the charges of war collaboration. The State Department sent two notes to the Belgrade Court. The response from the Belgrade Court was this:

‘Mihailovich will be given a fair trial, but we have enough legal evidence to convict him, and he will be shot.’

-- rumbling and sarcastic laughter in the audience --

At that point, we almost gave up. We couldn't appear. I'm going to digress a little. I was called up in 1946, I was living in New York -- I was called up by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich. He called me to say: 'I appreciate the work that the Americans are doing, but I want to tell you something about the Serbian people. We love General Mihailovich. But the important thing is to clear his name. Even if they do kill Mihailovich, another Draza will rise from the hills to lead the Serbian people. The most important thing is to clear his name. If you do that, we'll be happy.’

The most brilliant man I ever met. One of the great scholars of the 20th Century.

-- Colonel Plummer ascends the podium to say good-bye and thank the
audience and the airmen. Major Felman continues --

After the Belgrade court turned us down, we formed the "Commission of Inquiry" in New York. Testimony was presented at the Commission of Inquiry in May of 1946. It was presided over by some of the most prominent jurists in the United States. We accepted testimony fron all of the American Intelligence officers and airmen. The findings were sent to the Belgrade Court in the interest of international justice. The Belgrade court ignored it, and on July 17, 1946 they executed Mihailovich and threw his body in an unmarked grave.

Now once that happened, put yourselves in our position. What do we do now ? The man was executed -- murdered is a better word -- so what do we do now? Thank God, along came the Honorable Edward J. Derwinski. Without him...

-- applause --

Twenty years after Mihailovich was executed by a communist firing squad, Edward Derwinski came up -- he was investigating this for years -- he came up with the fact that in 1948, two years after Mihailovich was shot -- Secretary Derwinski came up with the information that President Truman, on the recommendation of General Eisenhower, who knew better than anyone else, on his recommendation, that President Truman awarded posthumously the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Chief Commander, to General Mihailovich for his material contribution to the Allied victory. Mind you, this is the highest award the United States government gives to a foreign national. This award was given two years after the communists shot him as a war collaborator.

For the first time in the history of this country, because of the "behind the scenes" activities in Washington, this award was kept secret. The first time in history, one of the highest awards was kept secret. The State Department finally admitted -- well, ‘we did not want to release this because we did not want to offend the communist government of Yugoslavia.’ This is in an actual document! So, it's okay to offend the Americans, but don't offend the communists!

Let me give you an idea of how this thing was kept secret for all those years. Three years ago, Maryann and I went up to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I went up there to speak to the head archivist in the library. I introduced myself and said 'I'm one of the members of the Halyard Mission'. He said, 'What's that?'

I said, 'this is one of the most glorious moments in Air Force history. 500 Americans and 250 Allied airmen were rescued from behind enemy lines, and you don't have a record of it?' He says, 'no'. He said, 'we have records of our failures in Iran. We have records of our failures to rescue American in Vietnam. But we don't have any records of our Allied airmen being rescued.'

Now, doesn't that just burn your pippi.

-- applause --

I left my files with him. And thank goodness, shortly after that, I received a letter from the Superintenant of the Air Force Academy, Lieutenant Charles R. Hamm that 'in the future, the Halyard Mission and the efforts of General Mihailovich would be on permanent display at the Academy, and it was sure to be of great interest to the cadets.'

-- applause --

The State Department is still on record for saying 'we do not care about the truth. Our only concern is appeasing Yugoslavia.' It seems that our State Department has a desk in every country of the world, except the United States of America.

-- applause --

Not to long ago, the Washington Post called to ask me 'how come after fifty years, the United States government has never expressed its gratitude for the lives of 500 Americans saved during the war?’ Excellent question. I can't answer it.

I told them it was not our fault. I told him, we've been giong to Washington for fifty years. Unfortunately, we don't have any money to buy a lobbyist. Without a lobbyist in Washington, you have absolutely no political clout. All we have working in our favor is truth, justice, national honor, and gratitude to a former ally. Those values mean absolutely nothing in Washington when they come up against powerful foreign lobbies. When they come against powerful public relations firms and million dollar contributions given to our elected officials. Believe me, it disturbs me greatly to stand up here in uniform...

-- Major Felman pauses to compose himself --

It disturbs me greatly to make these accusations about some of the people I met up in Washington. I don't like to do it, but I would be unpatriotic and un-American if I didn't bring it out.

This is the real kicker. This is what really got me off the hook. In all those years of trying, I was never more incensed than when I was told by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dante B. Fascell, on February 27, 1990 -- I wrote to him pleading 'please, the American airmen, all we want to do is say Thank You, express our gratitude for saving our lives. We are not making a political statement. Do not make a political football out of this. All we want to do is say 'Thank you' and express our gratitude.'

He says to me, 'thank you very much. We appreciate what you're trying to do, but the petition for Mihailovich is being denied,' and I quote, 'because of the opposition of the Yugoslav Government and the opposition of certain ethnic groups in Yugoslavia.'

-- rumbling in the audience --

I broke four windows when I got this letter. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would live to see the day when a committee of the United States Congress would allow an ethnic group to interfere in our internal affairs. Besides that, and this is the important thing, it sets a frightening precedent that the legitimate requests of American citizens are denied by the United States government on the basis that they might upset a foreign government.

After trying all these years, I will never accept the fact that, during World War II we risked our lives and watched our buddies get their arms, legs, and heads blown off so that ethnic groups could tell us what we could or could not do in our own country.

-- applause --
I don't know if I'll ever get another opportunity to release my sense of outrage. Two days ago, on May 29th, I celebrated by 73rd birthday...
-- applause...Felman gets teary-eyed...

You know as well as I do, I don't have another fifty years to fight for a cause as American as the American flag, the Star Spangled Banner, and the Bill of Rights. Gratitude. American gratitude. That's all we want. For 500 American lives.

For a birthday present, I was going to ask our featured speaker, the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to conduct a full scale investigation of why ethnic groups in Yugoslavia are more important than 8 million American veterans.

-- applause --

I am an American with a fierce love for my country. I have red, white, and blue blood flowing in my veins. But I am absolutely put to shame by a mere handful of my own countrymen who would dare to oppose an _expression of gratitude for the saving of 500 American lives while we were fighting in defense of our country.

There is not a single American, worthy of the name of this country, who would dare object to that, and if there is, he better not show his face to me. All I can say is thank God that the Department of Defense and the City of Chicago do not give a damn about what the ethnic groups in Yugoslavia think about the Halyard Mission.

The American airmen will always be greatful to them. To the committee chairman, Colonel Kenneth Plummer, and to one of our Serbian chetnik rescuers, Rade Rebich and his wonderful family who have worked hard day in and day out to put this ceremony together and give us this recognition.

-- applause --

And to hell with what the ethnic groups in Yugoslavia think about it.

-- applause --

May God bless us all and the millions of Americans who support us. May God Bless the United States of America.’’

--standing ovation as Major Felman leaves the podium --


Friday, September 08, 2006

Secret Memorandum to President Roosevelt regarding Mihailovich and Tito forces and the danger of supporting Tito

The following is a declassified, previously secret communication between Office of Strategic Services Director William J. Donovan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president of the United States, warning of the consequences of supporting Yugoslav communist leader Marshal Tito during World War Two.

Declassified July 19, 1984

9 November 1944

Ms. Grace Tully
The White House

Dear Grace:

I believe the President would be interested in the attached report on Yugoslavia. Will you kindly see that it is brought to his attention? Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

William J. Donovan


Approved for Release
July 26, 1984

9 November 1944

Memorandum for the President:

The OSS representative in Caserta has transmitted the following report, summarizing the political conclusions of McDowell, leader of the former OSS intelligence team at Mihailovich headquarters:

Serb Nationalist Leadership is vested less in Mihailovich than in the local leaders in Serbia and Bosnia, who violently oppose the Partisans as Communists but almost equally hate the old Belgrade ruling class. The local leaders and the masses among both the Nationalists and Partisans would quickly agree to unite if the Allies would deny support to the “reactionary” minority in one camp and the “Communist” minority in the other. Entrusting Tito with the Yugoslav Government will insure civil war.

The local Nationalist leaders in Serbia and Bosnia have been fighting Axis forces almost continuously since 1941. Their troops are better armed and disciplined than those directly under Mihailovich. Despite the 1941 massacres by the Croat quisling Ustashi, the Serb leaders in Bosnia are cooperating with Croat and Moslem Nationalists in preparation for a campaign against the Partisans.

In this impending civil war, the Partisans will win the formal battles by virtue of superior arms. However, the Nationalist outnumber the Partisans and will be able to conduct guerrilla warfare for at least two years unless the Allies establish an effective military occupation of all Yugoslavia. The OSS intelligence unit at Mihailovich headquarters personally observed Partisans [Yugoslav communists] attacking Nationalist [Mihailovich’s] troops engaged in fighting the Germans. The unit also has “concrete evidence” of Partisan massacre of Nationalist civilians, including women, and of Partisan failure to launch serious attacks against retreating Germans.

William J. Donovan

Caserta Cable No. 12514, 11/7/44.


Sec’y of State
Ass’t Sec’y of War (McCloy)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Richard Nixon Pays Tribute to General Mihailovich

"General Draza Mihailovich was a patriot, a brave soldier and a gallant ally of the United States and every nation that went to war in the early forties to destroy the tyrannies that sought to enslave our world.

Hundreds of American pilots owe their lives to General Mihailovich and his forces and the American people will never forget that debt.

As long at there are patriots in any nation, the name of General Mihailovich will be remembered and revered."

Richard M. Nixon
New York, New York
April 21, 1966

The HALYARD MISSION Rescue Operation Honored for Epic Heroism

By Aleksandra Rebic

Hundreds of Serbs and Americans from all over the United States and Canada gathered together on May 31, 1994 in Chicago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 'Halyard Mission' rescue operation and pay homage to the American veterans of World War II and the Serbs under the command of General Draza Mihailovich who saved their lives. The 'Halyard Mission' was the name given to the greatest rescue of American and Allied lives from behind enemy lines in the history of warfare. It was a day of celebration, rememberance, gratitude and tears. For those that attended, it was a moving and unforgettable event, and for the guests of honor, it was an opportunity to tell a story of epic proportions.

Fifty years before, in 1944, Serbian General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovich, his Chetnik forces, and the Serbian people loyal to them, saved the lives of hundreds of Allied airmen who had been stranded in Yugoslavia after having been attacked by the occupying German army. This great feat was officially noted in all of the releases and information disseminated by the World War II Commemoration Committee in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. That committee, chaired by Colonel Kenneth A. Plummer and overseen by the United States Department of Defense, organized a weeklong celebration in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with special events taking place throughout the world to commemorate that great moment in history. This five-day celebration in Chicago opened with the celebration of the anniversary of the successful 'Halyard Mission' rescue operation. This mission was a combined project of the American Strategic Services (O.S.S. - precursor of the C.I.A.) under the command of General William J. Donovan, Lieutenant George (Guv) S. Musulin, of the O.S.S. and an American of Serbian descent, and General Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian chetnik freedom fighters in the former Yugoslavia.

More than a million Americans participated in this five-day celebration of the anniversary of D-Day, but out of all the ethnic groups in America, the only specifically named participants were the Serbs.

For different reasons, and always less than noble ones, the Halyard Mission rescue operation that took place over the course of the Summer, Autumn and Winter of 1944 in the Serbian areas of former Yugoslavia, was kept hidden from official public recognition and covered up, to the point of being left out of the historical texts relating to the World War II era. The Halyard Mission became a casualty of political supression but through the tireless efforts of those who knew the history and the significance of this great event, many of them who lived it and are now deceased, this epic heroic story is increasingly seeing the light of day.

Although the following description of the rescue operation cannot do justice to the powerful drama, it will hopefully provide an adequate summary and will inspire you to learn more.

As preparations for the Allied invasion of Europe via the beaches of Normandy (D-Day) during World War Two were in their final stages in early 1944, the United States Army Air Corps were assigned to bomb the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. The Ploesti oil fields were the Nazi Army's main supply of fuel at the time, and without them functioning, Hitler would not have been able to continue the war.

To shorten the war, by just one day, meant this: If 50 million people lost their lives in just the four years between 1941 and 1945, that meant that an average of 12 million people died each year, which translates to an average of 33,000 people a day dying. Imagine it. Thus, shortening the war by even just one day, mean saving tens of thousands of lives. The destruction of the heart of the Nazi Army's war machine in 1944 was vital to the saving of those lives.

Once it was established how important those Ploesti oil fields were to Hitler and the plan for their destruction was established, the Allies began their intensive bombardment of the Nazi strongholds from the air. From the early Spring of 1944 until the end of that year, waves after waves of Allied aircraft were flying from their bases in Italyl, crossing Serbian airspace in occupied Yugoslavia, to their destination over Romania. This was, indeed, one of the most dangerous missions of the war, and the effort would cost many Allied lives.

The most intense bombings took place between April 5, 1944 through August 19th. Over 5000 Allied war planes participated and they included American, Canadian, British, Russian, French and Italian personnel. Many of the Allied planes that were attacked and damaged while flying over Ploesti managed tp sustain their aircraft in the air until they reached the territory of Serbia. Once they reached Serbian airspace, they were forced to abandon their damaged planes and parachute to the ground in Nazi occupied territory. Their families had no way of knowing if their sons and brothers were dead or alive. Once on the ground, many of them wounded, they would keep moving through the mountains and hills and forests and plains of Yugoslavia, not knowing what the next day or night would bring and if they would survive. On the run to avoid capture by the Germans, they didn't know if they would ever see their homes or loved ones ever again.

It was in these Serbian lands that the downed airmen were found by the Serbian peasants, American allies of more than 120 years. This would be the blessing that the airmen desperately needed, for these Serbs would give them all the protection, support, and sustenance they would need to survive. None of these airmen would ever be captured by the Nazis. The Serbs were determined, even at high cost to themselves, to keep the American and other Allied airmen safe until they could be evacuated to safety. Eventually, all of them were placed under the protection of the forces under the command of General Draza Mihailovich.

As early as October 18, 1943, Lt. George S. Musulin, an American officer of Serbian descent, had been transferred from Lybia, North Africa to Serbia. There, he became an American liaison to General Mihailovich and his chetnik forces. He spent several months at General Mihailovich's headquarters before returning to the Allied base in Bari, Italy on May 29, 1944.

Musulin immediately began putting pressure on his commanding officers to allow him to return to Mihailovich and organize the evacuation of the downed airmen.

It was not easy for Musulin to convince his commanding officers that this evacuation was feasible. He did so by stressing that General Mihailovich was not only a hero to his own people, but many of the American military command. They knew well that when Yugoslavia fell to the Nazis in April of 1941, Mihailovich refused to surrender to them, leading a small band of men into the Serbian hills of Ravna Gora to initiate the first true guerrilla resistance movement in all of occupied Europe. It would also become one of the most effective despite the terrible obstacles it was burdened with, and would cause Adolf Hitler to postpone his planned attack on Moscow by several weeks, a postponement that would end up crippling the Nazi Army.

One of the difficulties of initiating the evacuations of the airmen in 1944 was that by this time, the British and the Americans, at the behest of the British, had officially withdrawn their support of Mihailovich and were now backing the Yugoslav communists, the Partisans, who were under the command of Marshal Josip Broz Tito -- an act of betrayal that stands today as one of the most destructive and treacherous of the entire war.

However, when William "Wild Bill" Donovan, director of the O.S.S., got hold of Musulin's plans, he approved them immediately. That Summer of 1944, Lt. George Musulin, Sergeant Michael Rajachich, and radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian parachuted into the hills of Serbia, not knowing if they would be captured and executed by the Nazis or fall into friendly hands. They were very lucky. The territory they landed in was controlled by Mihailovich's chetniks. Those Serbs who recognized 'Guv' Musulin from his previous stay in Serbia were overcome with happiness, as were the airmen, who now knew they had not been abandoned and left to their fate. So began the Halyard Rescue Operation.

On the southern slop of the Maljen mountain in Serbia, not too far from the small village of Pranjani (Prah-nya-knee), there was a clearing that Musulin felt was large enough to be used as an airstrip for C-47 cargo planes. It needed to be leveled off and extended by some fifty feet. General Mihailovich mobilized hundreds of peasants in Serbia to do the job and make the airstrip happen. They came with carts, oxen, shovels, and tools and used whatever natural resources they could, such as dirt, to create that airstrip. One of the men overseeing the operation was Mr. Zvonko Vuckovich.

Everything was finished and ready to go on the night of August 9th, 1944. The first C-47 plane was to land at 10:00 p.m. under the protective cover of night. There was, however, one very big catch. Only four miles away was a strong German garrison of 4,000 Nazi forces that had tanks, planes, and deadly ammunition at their disposal. That night, the first plane was to pick up 14 airmen and take off. Other C-47s were to follow. However, due to the abnormal amount of radio signals eminating from the area of Pranjani, the evacuation was not to remain the intended covert action that had been so carefully planned. The Germans picked up the radio activity, and it didn't take them long to figure out that something was happening. Musulin's radio communiques to the Allied base in Bari, Italy had been discovered by the wrong people.

As he saw the German fighter planes begin circling overhead, the first thought that came to Musulin's mind was to stop the operation right away. But the first c-47 had already left Bari, Italy and was on its way to Pranjani, Serbia.

Suddenly, somehow something apparently intimidated the Nazis and their planes disappeared after circling. There was no attack. That night of August 9, 1944 the first C-47 landed, picked up it's human cargo, and left without incident, completing the very first of the historic evacuations under the 'Halyard Mission'. In that first group was American Lieutenant Richard L. Felman of the United States Air Force, who would spend the next fifty four years of his life extending his gratitude and defending the honor and valor of General Mihailovich and the Serbian people against the brutal propaganda attacks waged against them by the communists and the ignorance of the Western Allies that allowed these attacks to be institutionalized and propagated throughout the world.

Still, Musulin did not want to risk any lives unless he absolutely had to. Before any more planes could land, Musulin made the decision to abort the evacuation for that night. He decided to continue first thing in the morning, during daylight. There 250 fallen airmen left to be evacuated. All those around hin thought that he had gone mad, but they went along with the plan. It turned out to be a brilliant plan. The darkness of night did not allow for the protection that P-51 planes could provide as air cover over the C-47 cargo planes, but daylight did.

The following morning, August 10, 1944, at exactly 8:00 a.m., the first American cargo plane landed on the Pranjani airstrip in Serbia while P-51s circled relentlessly as cover. They fired at known German bases, while on the ground, some 8,000 of General Mihailovich's Chetniks, the best men he had, ringed the area of Pranjani like a fortress. The Nazis didn't have a chance to interfere without bringing in massive additional forces. The evacuation went like clockwork. The C-47s landed, loaded, and took off. That big daylight operation, following the very first one of the previous night, took 240 Allied airmen to freedom.

When the good-byes were said between and the Serbs that had so vigilantly watched over them, they were not said easily. There were many tears. Many of the airmen, as a parting gift, threw their shoes to the Serbs. Many of these rescued airmen would end up devoting much of their time and effort after the war ended to do justice to these people that had saved their lives and to the leader who had led them.

These evacuations would be repeated several times over the next few months, As Allied airmen continued to be shot down, making their way to Serbia and to other Serbian lands in Yugoslavia, where they knew that the safest place for them was among the Serbian people loyal to General Mihailovich.

Captain Nick Lalich would replace Musulin, who was reassigned to Nationalist China at the headquarters of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Chek as the American liaison officer. Lalich, another American of Serbian descent, became the O.S.S. contact for the Halyard Operation and would supervise the last of the evacuations in December of 1944. He would be the last American officer to have contact with General Mihailovich and see him alive.

In the annals of history, the Halyard Mission stands out as one of the great shining moments when human heroism and honor prevailed over all obstacles. The courage and integrity exemplified by those who carried out those evacuation operations in 1944 is unprecedented. By that time, General Draza Mihailovich and his forces had been abandoned by the Allies and left to the Nazi and communist wolves in Yugoslavia. Despite this betrayal, the General would save hundreds of Allied lives that had fallen into the hands of his people. Not one fallen Allied airman fell into enemy hands. Not one was sacrificed.

The Halyard Mission Rescue Operation was the product of the perseverance of American Serbs such as Captain "Guv" Musulin, Captain Nick Lalich, Master Sergeant Michael Rajacich, George Vuynovich of the O.S.S. in Bari, Italy; a Serbian General leading the resistance in Serbia, Colonel M. McDowell, Chief of the Intelligence Mission to Mihailovich, American radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian, and others who ran the operation and got it done. It was also the product of so many native Serbs, both armed guerrilla forces and the civilians who protected the airmen under the worst of circumstances, even at great risk to their own lives.

On May 31, 1994 in Chicago, Illinois, as the world began it's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day, a fifty year debt of gratitude was repayed to the Serbian general, Dragoljub-Draza Mihailovich, who was, and remained, the greatest hero of all to those who knew the measure of the man.

September 10, 2006

Former U.S. Congressman Philip Crane honors Halyard Mission in May 1994

The following is a letter sent to Major Richard L. Felman of the United States Airforce, a veteran of World War Two, from former Congressman Philip Crane of Illinois in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Halyard Mission operation in former Yugoslavia.

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.

Dear Dick,

"Let me join you, the other 500 Americans whose lives were saved thanks to the efforts of General Draza Mihailovich and the sacrifices made by the Serbian people in their behalf, and all those who join in honoring this brave and great patriot.

The Halyard Mission is without precedent in its audacity plus the magnitude of its success. For that and his valor, General Eisenhower is to be saluted for recommending the Legion of Merit for General Mihailovich, and President Truman has to be congratulated for conferring it.

The Legion of Merit is the highest award our government confers on non-nationals and General Mihailovich earned it.

It is shameful that our State department has prevented us from securing the property necessary for the erection and maintenance of a statue in Washington, D.C. by the downed American airmen who owe their existence to this principled hero.

I deeply regret my inability to be with you all for the wreath laying. Know that my heart is with you and that all who know of this event are indebted to you, Dick, for keeping the faith."



Friday, September 01, 2006

Serbia Owes a Debt to General Mihailovich: A True Man of the People

General Mihailovich among the Serbian people during World War Two.

By Aleksandra Rebic
September 1, 2006

Unlike his rival, Yugoslav communist leader Marshal Josip Broz Tito, General Draza Mihailovic was, and remained, a true man of the people in his beloved Serbia. Even as he rose to fame for being the first true resistance leader in occupied Europe during World War Two, General Draza remained a humble and simple man whom the people adored. He did not lie to them, he did not seek to rule over them, and the sacrifices they willingly made on behalf of the Allied cause would tear at his heart. The people remained loyal to General Mihailovich, just as he remained loyal to the Allies, to the very end.

There is something very wrong with there being a "House of Flowers" complete with lovely landscaping in Dedinje, one of the wealthy neighborhoods in Belgrade, with a bronze likeness of the dictator Tito watching over his white marble mausoleum hung with red velvet curtains, housing his massive marble, gold inscribed tomb, and there is not even a headstone, not even a marker, for the belovd General Draza, in all of Serbia.

It is not even known where General Mihailovich is buried.

Serbia must rectify this. She owes General Draza Mihailovich that. She owes the people that loved him and their descendants who know only the legend but who carry on the legacy that. He was a man of the people in the truest sense of the word - a hands on leader who was "in the trenches" with his men, who never took his people for granted, who chose to stay and meet his fate instead of leaving when evacuation was offered to him, and who paid for his love of his country with his life.

Serbia owes.


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USAF Chief of Staff General Merrill McPeak salutes the survivors of "Operation Halyard" and their Rescuers on the 50th Anniversary