Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Halyard Mission Hero Art Jibilian live, on camera, "Lest we Forget"

This live, on camera interview with Halyard Mission OSS Radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian was conducted by filmmaker Vladimir Bibic at the Lest we Forget "Forgotten 500 Reunion" in southwest Michigan in June of 2009. My sincere gratitude goes out to Mr. Bibic for sharing this with all of us.

Aleksandra Rebic


Interview with WW2 veteran hero, Art Jibilian from Vladimir Bibic on Vimeo.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Art Jibilian: A Hero to us all // The Toledo Blade

Arthur Jibilian January 1945


March 30, 2010


ART “Jibby” Jibilian was a hero whose World War II exploits were buried in the mark of global politics. In recent years, details have emerged of the daring, behind-enemy-lines rescue of hundreds of downed Allied airmen in which he played a prominent role. These details make clear that Mr. Jibilian, who died this month at 86, was indeed one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation.

The Toledo native was a 20-year-old Navy radioman when he volunteered for the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. His mission was to parachute with two others into Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia to coordinate the rescue of downed U.S. airmen.

What began as a quick strike to extract a few airmen hiding among Serbian villagers and royalist guerillas turned into the stuff of Hollywood. It included narrow escapes from Nazi forces in occupied Yugoslavia, the aid of resistance fighters under command of a charismatic leader, and a massive airlift using a temporary airstrip carved by hand out of a mountain plateau under cover provided by the famed Tuskegee Airmen. In all, more than 500 pilots and crew were saved as a result of “Operation Halyard.”

That all this derring-do did not end up the silver screen was largely the result of politics. The resistance fighters aiding the Americans were called the Chetniks, who began the war as Yugoslav royalists but had developed into Serbian nationalists.

The Allies, however, had thrown their lot in with a rival group, the Communist Partisans. Mr. Jibilian and other Americans who had come to respect the Chetniks were ordered to keep their stories to themselves.

More than six decades later, their story was told by Gregory Freeman in his 2007 book, The Forgotten 500. Friends, neighbors, and coworkers were amazed to discover the hero in their midst, but that often is the case with members of the Greatest Generation.

America’s World War II heroes are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. Before many decades, they all will be gone, many with their stories untold. But, Mr. Jibilian’s story did not die with him, and for that we are thankful.

Although he didn’t live to receive the Medal of Honor for which he was nominated last year, he did live long enough for a grateful nation to thank him in person for his service and sacrifice.



If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Milana "Mim" Bizic successfully confronts mistake made in Jibilian obituary

Below you will find a fine example of how a citizen can make a difference. After you read Milana Bizic's  published "Letter to the Editor", you will find that the newspaper corrected its original headline to read the way it should have from the beginning. Thank you to Milana Bizic for her vigilance.

Aleksandra Rebic


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Huge difference

I thank Jack Kelly for his March 23 obituary  on America's hero, Arthur Jibilian, the World War II Office of Strategic Services radioman who worked with Gen. Draza Mihailovich and the Serbs to save 500-plus U.S. airmen from behind German-occupied lines in Serbia.

I object, however, to the headline on that article, "Art Jibilian: Part of WWII Team That Rescued Airmen in Nazi Yugoslavia." There is a huge difference between "Nazi Yugoslavia," as the headline blared, and "Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia."

Bill David, an Ohio pilot, was in the Boston airport when he learned of "Jibby's" passing. He wrote this in an e-mail to me:

 "Art and his fellow soldiers were honest-to-God real live American heroes, the kind that you would read about in comic books. Over 500 lives were saved during WWII and nobody knows about it. The guys they rescued went on to live their lives, father families, build careers, help make America great. Nobody knows of all of this.

"This is not the news of the day. We as a nation are worse off because of it. It disconnects us from our gallant values and what made us great as a country in the first place.

"Tiger Woods will take center stage for his indiscretions. That is the kind of stuff that is important to us now. Everybody knows who Tiger and Paris are, but nobody knows who Draza Mihailovich was and what he and the Serbian people did for our country, the sacrifices they made so that our boys could live."

Perhaps if Americans did know, this wouldn't have been written on the 11th anniversary of the illegal bombing of Serbia by NATO forces.



Obituary: Art Jibilian / Part of WWII team that rescued airmen in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia

Died March 21, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

By Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

During World War II, Art Jibilian was part of a three-man special operations team that helped rescue 513 Allied airmen from Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia.

Mr. Jibilian died Sunday of leukemia at his home in Fremont, Ohio. He was 86.

Mr. Jibilian was the radio operator on the team, which was led by Ambridge native George Vujnovich. The team was dispatched from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to the CIA, which joined forces with Gen. Draza Mihailovich and his Chetnik guerrillas. The third member of the team was Johnstown native George Musulin, who played tackle on the University of Pittsburgh's 1936 Rose Bowl team.

The story of Operation Halyard, the greatest rescue of downed American airmen in World War II, was told in the Post-Gazette July 31, 2009. It was hushed up for decades because it was Allied policy to support Josip Tito in his struggle with Gen. Mihailovich, a royalist, over the shape of postwar Yugoslavia. The State Department had even opposed undertaking the rescue mission.

Mr. Jibilian, Mr. Vujnovich and Mr. Musulin and many of the pilots Gen. Mihailovich rescued tried for many years to right what they considered a historical wrong. Even while battling cancer, Mr. Jibilian traveled around the country to speak about the injustice he said was done to Gen. Mihailovich.

Rep. Del Latta, R-Ohio, last summer introduced a resolution calling for awarding the Medal of Honor to Mr. Jibilian for his service in Yugoslavia. That resolution is pending before the House Armed Services Committee.

A spokesman for Mr. Latta said Monday the congressman will press to have the award made posthumously.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Равногорци памте саборца из САД / Артур А. Џибилиан / СПО

March 24, 2010

Артур А. Џибилиан (Arthur A. Jibilian), један од тројице агената САД који су се спустили на подручје западне Србије у августу 1944, да би спасли 500 савезничких падобранаца, који су, према њиховим информацијама, били оборени, преминуо је недељу у 86. години од рака.

- Џибилиан је био један од 500 савезничких пилота које су војници Драже Михаиловића 1994. спасли. У америчкој историји то је забележено као највећа акција спасавања савезничких војника током Другог светког рата. И ове године ћемо 9. маја организовати традиционални сабор на Равној гори и тада ће и Артуру Џибилиану сигурнио бити одата почаст - каже за „24 сата“ Александар Чотрић, председник Републичке асоцијације за неговање тековина Равногорског покрета и члан Комисије за проналажење земних остатака генерала Драже.
Артурова ћерка Деби Џибилиан каже да породица планира сусрет његових пријатеља у суботу у Фремонту и истуче да је да је њен отац живео 18 месеци пошто су му доктори рекли да ће живети још само две недеље.

- Уместо да се бори за себе, борио се да спере љагу са имена Драже Михаиловића, човека који је њему и његовим колегама помогао да из мисије изађу живи - каже Деби о оцу, који је неколико пута долазио у Србију и хвалио Михаиловића.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Monday, March 29, 2010

Arthur Jibilian, Charles King, Anthony Orsini and Nick Lalich WWII

Caption: Radio Man Arthur Jibilian From Toledo, Ohio (Extreme Left) And 1St Lt. Nicholas A. Lalich, From Cleveland, Ohio (Extreme Right) Went To The Hospital To Visit Capt. Charles King, From Tucumcari, Nm, Lockheed P-38 Lightning Pilot With The Broken Back (With beard). They found 1st Lt. Anthony Orsini, from Jersey City, NJ, whom they had evacuated a month before, Lt. Orsini, a consolidated B-24 navigator, was returned to active duty, got his hand shot up on a mission over the Brenner Pass.

Aleksandra's Note: Not sure what year this great photo was taken! It was 1944 or 1945.  Also unknown is the hospital.

Source for the photo:


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Sunday, March 28, 2010

WTOL Toledo / "Family and Friends Celebrate Life of Arthur Jibilian"

Arthur Jibilian WTOL Toledo

Aleksandra's Note:  I had the great fortune, ironically due to unfortunate circumstances, of becoming acquainted with Debi Jibilian, Arthur's only daughter, in July of 2008. Early one morning, I received a voice mail message from her, where she identified who she was then proceeded to tell me that I needed to call her as soon as possible. It was one of those voice mails where you instinctively know it's not going to be "good news".

I called as soon as I heard the message, and sure enough, it was bad news. Her Daddy had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leukemia, and the prognosis on July 1, 2008 was that he would be gone within weeks. Two weeks to live, I remember her telling me. My head spun. Impossible. Not Arthur. Not my friend, with whom I had been in virtually constant contact with since September of 2004. I know that people die, I remember thinking, but not people like Arthur Jibilian.

That was July of 2008. I asked Debi if Arthur was accepting visitors. She said yes. I told her I was going to plan on coming out to visit them in September of 2008, to meet him "live and in person", to visit with him, before he left us. Our contact thus far had been via postal and electronic mail. We'd never met "live". She told me that September would be too late. He would be gone by that time.

He lived another 20 months, almost two years, since that July 1, 2008 diagnosis. And what an amazing 20 months it was. He defied all the odds. Arthur in his 80's was every bit the odd defier that he had been as Arthur in his 20's in WWII. The richness of his life, all that he did and all that he achieved from July 1, 2008 to March 21, 2010 will forever remain an inspiration to me as to what a person can do, no matter what their affliction, no matter what their age, if they really want to. Arthur Jibilian had a reason to live.

Anybody who thinks the Jibilian "Medal of Honor" campaign is over now that "Jibby" is gone, and who thinks that the Halyard Mission, having lost one of its most essential protagonists, will be relegated to the hidden corners of history once again, has never met his daughter Debi.

My thanks to her and her mother Jo, for being so giving toward Arthur's friends and for sharing their loss with all of us and allowing all of us to share it with them.


Aleksandra Rebic



Toledo, Ohio's Channel 11

WTOL Toledo Channel 11 "Family and Friends Celebrate Life of Arthur Jibilian"

Family, friends celebrate life of Arthur Jibilian

Posted: Mar 28, 2010 5:28 AM CDT

By Mika Highsmith

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Family and friends celebrated the life of Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian Saturday in Fremont, one week after he lost his battle to cancer. Jibby, also known as the "radio man," helped rescue hundreds of airmen during Operation Halyard during World War II.

"There are his medals," said Debi Jibilian, Arthur's daughter, while showing off her dad's awards. "He has a silver star on top, and he's a Navy guy that got it, which is unusual in itself."

Jibilian was an American hero who helped rescue more than 500 downed fighter pilots from behind enemy lines 65 years ago during WWII. He'd been nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award given in the military, and his family wants to make sure he gets it.

"I really believe at this point that there are so many politics involved, I don't know if it will ever come through," Debi said. "The only reason that the medal is so important is that it will lend credibility to the fight to clear Mihalovich. That's all daddy wanted the medal for. He wants Mihalovch's name cleared and the Serbian people recognized."


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian's Final Interview / March 17, 2010 WPRR "Foreign Policy and You"

My sincere gratitude to Mr. Jose Amoros for sharing this radio interview which he conducted with Arthur Jibilian and "The Forgotten 500" author Gregory A. Freeman on March 17, 2010. Mr. Jibilian passed away four days later, on Sunday March 21, 2010.

It was Arthur Jibilian's last.

Aleksandra Rebic


From Host and Executive Editor
Foreign Policy and You
José A. Amorós

"I met Mr. Jibilian over a year ago during a visit of his to Grand Rapids, MI. He spoke before the Michigan Company of Military Historians and Collectors.

During that time, as during his recent on the air interview in my radio program Foreign Policy and You, I met with a man with one of the most gentle smiles I have ever seen.

By the way he told the story of Operation Halyard, in which he was instrumental, you would think that he was talking about going camping, with just a little bit of excitement on the side. Never did he give any indication of boasting or bringing attention to himself as he could have done. The word "we" drowned by overwhelming preponderance any allusions to "I".

The daring-do mission of the rescue of Allied airman in enemy territory, by the Halyard Mission, had all the makings of an epic of the best kinds. Although it would make a great book or film, it was no fiction. The strafing by German aircraft, the risk of being killed during the airdrop, the chances of being caught and tortured by the Gestapo were all too real.

Volunteering for such a mission to save the lives of others at the risk of his own life was "above and beyond the call of duty." Mr. Jibilian did not receive the honors he deserved while living. Politics got in the way, geopolitics, that is. Our government and our allies decided at one point that it was more expedient to keep that historical event of WWII under covers. It is still not too late.

It was my honor to have conducted his last public interview."

José A. Amorós
Foreign Policy and You
Host & Executive Editor
Washington & Marshall Institute
March 23, 2010

Arthur Jibilian's Last Interview March 17, 2010 WPRR


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Saturday, March 27, 2010

TRIBUTES to Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian // A Celebration of an Extraordinary Life

Arthur Jibilian January 1945

Arthur Jibilian June 2009

Photo by Aleksandra Rebic

Today, Saturday March 27th, 2010, as the Jibilian family holds their "Celebration of Life" for Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian, I wanted to share with you some of the sentiments expressed by those that knew him over the years on hearing of his passing on March 21st, 2010 at the age of 86.

Arthur Jibilian was not only respected and admired, he was loved, by people the world over, some who knew him personally and others who did not, but who knew of him and all that he did on behalf of Truth and Justice.


Aleksandra Rebic


"Last week, I accompanied Don Alsbro and three other Lest We Forget veterans to West Virginia to visit Mr. Frank Buckles, WWI veteran. Along the way, we stopped in Ohio to see Mr. Jibby and his wonderful wife and daughter. We had a nice lunch and spent some time with Jibby and his family.

I can't tell you how sad I was when I heard the news. Jibby was so gracious when we saw him. He remained strong throughout our visit, but I could tell he was getting tired prior to us leaving. What a soldier! He was totally pleasant and most of all, thankful to all of us for visiting him. I gave him a hug before I left and had a feeling that this would be the last time I would see him. I just never realized that God would take him so soon. I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to see him.

May God be with you in the coming days.... you must remain strong for Jibby's family... rest assured that we will all see him again, someday!"

Ray Damaske
Lest We Forget of Southwest Michigan


"I am so saddened by the news of Jibby's passing. I knew him only months, but his warmth, genuineness and unassuming character made him so loveable and approachable. I can only imagine how much his family and friends will miss him.

I am honored to have met him last June at the “Lest We Forget Forgotten 500 Reunion” in Michigan. He campaigned to the end to vindicate Gen. Mihailovich. We will honor their memory by continuing the campaign to award Jibby the Medal of Honor."

Vecnaja Pamjat

JoAnne (Musulin) de la Riva
Daughter of Captain George Musulin



"I wish to offer my condolences to you on the passing of Arthur. I was reminded of his exploits in Yugoslavia and his participation in the Halyard Mission which led to the rescue of over 500 American, British, and Canadian Airmen. I read the entire story of his heroics in a local newspaper. I immediately called him and we discussed our experiences in Yugoslavia. I told him how when he parachuted down near the airfield at Pranjani in August of 1944 and ran up the hill to the airfield, I was one of the first airmen to greet him as he approached with Captain George Musulin and the other member of their team. It took about nine days until Jibilian and the team could set up the rescue. The sick and wounded were flown out on August 9, 1944 and the remaining 200 airmen, including myself, were flown out on August 10, 1944. But Jibilian wasn't through yet. He and the team stayed behind and rescued over 300 additional airmen. They left only when they knew that the airmen had been returned to Allied control.

I thought of that rescue team many times in the years that followed. It took a certain type of person to participate in that kind of mission. Arthur Jibilian was that kind of person... Brave, Strong, Dedicated, Conscientious, Loyal and Devoted. Thanks, Arthur Jibilian, along with General Mihailovich, the Halyard Team, and the Serbian people for saving my life and the lives of over 500 of our fellow airmen."

With Great Respect,

Milton E. Friend
Lt/Col, USAF (Ret)


"Others had their Superman, Captain Marvel, and Green Hornet Super Heroes. I had Nick Lalich, George Vuynovich and Jibby! Rest in Peace, Warrior Arthur Jibilian. Vjecnaja Pamjat.

I admired Jibby as the finest kind of warrior, not only as the brave and gifted WWII O.S.S. radioman, but also in his later years, when he realized there was still another fight to be won.

As a warrior whose thoughts are pure and good, Jibby tried desperately against all odds to tell the true story of General Draza Mihailovich, the Serbs, and the rescue of the 500+ U.S. airmen from behind German-occupied lines in the former Yugoslavia. Throughout these 60+ years, he fought the good fight, defending the honor of General Mihailovich and his Chetniks, in guest appearances on airfields, in Museums, on TV and in interviews for documentary films.

Goodbye my friend, Jibby.

To the very end, you were always so helpful to me and so many others. I thank you for your kindness, friendship and love. You were a wonderful part of my life from the time I was seven. Good-bye my special Super Hero!"

Mim Bizic


"So sad to hear that Arthur Jibilian has passed away. I knew Mr. Jibilian was seriously ill, but held out the hope that he would be with us awhile longer. May this dear and brave man now rest in peace, and may his memory be eternal. I'm honored to have known him via this electronic medium. Mr. Jibilian was so appreciative and always made himself available to answer any questions or clarifications from me. I will miss his occasional emails. My condolences to his wife and daughter."

Liz Milanovich


"Was terribly saddened by "Jibby's" passing..."

Curtis Diles
Rescued American Airman WWII


"This is very sad news. JoAnne said he looked sprite last summer. We do wish these heroes would last forever."

Georgene ( Musulin) Murray
Daughter of Captain George Musulin


"I was stunned. We had lunch with him March 11th and while he appeared a little weak, he ate a healthy meal, was jovial and wished us well. Lest We Forget has a mission to "brighten the future by illuminating the past" and the story of Jibby and how he saved over 500 American airmen during Operation Halyard is a story that must never be forgotten. His heroic story will live on for decades. While small in stature, he was a giant of a man and it was truly an honor to have had the chance to meet him. I never saw Jibby when he didn't have a smile on his face. If there was ever a soldier who deserved the Medal of Honor it is Arthur Jibilian!"

Don Alsbro
President, Lest We Forget of Southwest Michigan


 "No doubt Jibby will continue his fight to let the world know the meaning of the name Draza Mihailovich, with even greater effectiveness, from where he is now."

Julia Gorin


"Jibby was a shining example of decency, loyalty and perseverance in defending Draza and his Chetniks.

He witnessed the abandonment of Draza by the ruthless Allies while he enjoyed the friendship and sacrifice of the Serbian people, and he felt totally confident moving around Pranjani without restrictions, which he told us he did not experience during his brief exposure to Tito’s murderous Communists.

Jibby, you vindicated the perfidy of the U.S. foreign policy and have gained the well deserved admiration of the Serbian people in general and of your Chetnik buddies in particular.

May you rest in peace!"


Nick D. Petrovich
Mexico City, Mexico


"I met Mr. Jibilian over a year ago during a visit of his to Grand Rapids, MI. He spoke before the Michigan Company of Military Historians and Collectors.

During that time, as during his recent on the air interview in my radio program Foreign Policy and You, I met with a man with one of the most gentle smiles I have ever seen.

By the way he told the story of Operation Halyard, in which he was instrumental…never did he give any indication of boasting or bringing attention to himself as he could have done. The word "we" drowned by overwhelming preponderance any allusions to "I".

Volunteering for such a mission to save the lives of others at the risk of his own life was "above and beyond the call of duty." Mr. Jibilian did not receive the honors he deserved while living. Politics got in the way, geopolitics, that is. Our government and our allies decided at one point that it was more expedient to keep that historical event of WWII under covers. It is still not too late.

It was my honor to have conducted his last public interview on March 17."

José A. Amorós
Foreign Policy and You
Host & Executive Editor
Washington & Marshall Institute


"With the passing of Arthur Jibilian, our country has lost a true American hero. Arthur's brave work in rescuing downed American airmen in World War II must never be forgotten, and I am honored to have known him. He was the quintessential American hero -- humble, modest, quietly proud, but ferocious in seeking justice. I was often struck by how such a pleasant, amiable fellow would suddenly become full of fire and fury when the subject of Draza Mihailovich and the betrayal of the Serbs arose. Art was a man who knew what was right and what was wrong, and he wasn't afraid to speak up for those in the right."

Gregory A. Freeman
Author of ‘The Forgotten 500


"This kind hearted, good humored American Hero that I always called ‘Uncle Arthur’ will be greatly missed. His soft, calming voice always made you at ease, even when the chips were down. I can see him now, as we speak, still smiling, and saying:  'Sam, this is really not about me, but about Draza Mihailovich and the gallant Serbian people that saved us, and I know that the weight of the Congressional Medal of Honor would add to that cause.'

Rest in Peace Uncle Arthur, we Love You and you will never be forgotten!"

Love, Sam and Sue Subotich


"To the Jibilian Family: Be strong and brave, because that is what Arthur was all of his life. He did a great service for the Serbs over many years and millions of them will be with you in spirit in remembering Arthur Jibilian, a good man - a wonderful human being."

The Rebic Family


"The last of the Halyard Mission operators in the field is no longer with us. Art Jibilian was a brave and courageous man who did not flinch, who unselfishly gave of himself and gave everything to further the cause of justice and freedom and General Mihailovich. More than 500 airmen owe their lives to Jibilian and the Halyard team, and he was the last living connection to those men."

Major George Vuynovich
Chief of Operations, OSS
Bari, Italy

Who this year will be 95 years old.


Dear Arthur,

When I talked with you on the phone just a couple of weeks ago, we ended the conversation with my asking you not to die. You assured me that you would try your best not to.

Now, I have another request: When you reunite with all the great ones of Halyard, including the good General, please remember to take lots of pictures.

The memory of you, especially how fully you lived your life these last few years, will inspire me for the rest of my life. I really thought you would live forever.

Thank you for being my friend.

Aleksandra Rebic

If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do kraja voleo i branio Srbe // Artur "Džibi" Džibilijan 1923-2010

M. PRELEVIĆ, 23.03.2010


ARTUR "Džibi" Džibilijan 2009 // The News-Messenger

ARTUR Džibi Džibilijan, američki heroj iz Drugog svetskog rata, koji je zajedno sa vojskom Draže Mihailovića i srpskim narodom učestvovao u spasavanju više od 500 američkih pilota oborenih iznad Jugoslavije, preminuo je u nedelju u svom domu u Kaliforniji. Bio je poslednji preživeli učesnik operacije „Vazdušni most“, najveće akcije spasavanja savezničkih vojnika tokom rata.

Do poslednjeg uzdaha, kažu za „Novosti“ njegovi poznanici iz Memorijalnog društva „Nikola Tesla“ u Njujorku, čiji je Džibi bio član, bivši radio-telegrafista ostao je veliki prijatelj Srbije.

- U svakoj prilici bi govorio da su Srbi najbolji narod na svetu. Digao je, posebno, glas protiv bombardovanja, pojavljivao se tada u svim novinama, na televizijama. Rastužila ga je satanizacija jednog naroda koji je toliko učinio za Amerikance tokom rata - navodi Radonja Grujić, član Izvršnog odbora Teslinog društva. - Bio je, možda, najbolji srpski lobista u Americi, član Teslinog društva od osnivanja. A eto, umro je ne dočekavši da mu dodele Medalju časti...

Art Džibilijan bio je jedan od trojice oficira tadašnje Strateške službe koji su padobranom ubačeni blizu sela Pranjani kod Gornjeg Milanovca, početkom avgusta 1944. Trebalo je da izbave 50 oborenih pilota.

- Nismo našli 50 - govorio je kasnije Džibilijan. - Bilo ih je barem 250.

U narednih nekoliko meseci, do 27. decembra, Džibilijan i saradnici podigli su aerodromsku pistu na padinama Suvobora, i započeli evakuaciju. Sve se odvijalo tokom noći. U međuvremenu, srpski seljaci su čuvali i hranili pilote, rizikujući svoje živote, jer je nemačka komanda glasila: streljati sve porodice koje štite Amerikance.

A piloti i Srbi toliko su se zbližili da su, na odlasku, vojnici poklanjali seljacima cipele - ništa drugo nisu imali! - i bosonogi ulazili u transportere.

Džibilijan i njegovi saradnici nikada nisu zaboravili Srbiju, ni Dražu Mihailovića. Sa svojim spasiocima piloti su se poslednji put sreli pre pet godina, kada je podignut i spomenik na Galovića brdu.

Čak i kada su mu lekari pre nekoliko godina kazali da ima leukemiju, svedoči Arturova kćerka Debi, on je mnogo više brinuo o tome da „opere“ Dražino ime, koji je čak i u Americi - iako ga je predsednik Hari Truman posthumno odlikovao 1948. - dugo važio za „kolaboracionistu“.


O ARTURU Džibilijanu u ponedeljak se govorilo i u Kongresu.

- On nije dobio vojne i građanske počasti koje zaslužuje, ali se nadam da ćemo mu se odužiti makar posthumno - kazao je kongresmen Bob Lata.


„OPERACIJA Haljard“, kako je bilo zvanično ime misije, bila je najveća akcija spasavanja savezničkih vojnika tokom rata, ali se za nju ni u američkoj javnosti ne zna previše. Pre tri godine objavljena je knjiga „Zaboravljenih 500: Neispričana priča o ljudima koji su rizikovali sve“, autora Gregorija Frimana. Po njoj bi uskoro, prema najavama iz Holivuda, u produkciji Dejne Maksimovič, mogao da bude snimljen i film.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Halyard Mission Radioman Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian conveys his Gratitude before he leaves us

A 20 year old Arthur Jibilian, ready to serve his country.

Aleksandra's Note: My sincere thanks to Milana "Mim" Bizic, Arthur's dear friend, for forwarding me the following sentiments expressed by Arthur Jibilian to Brian McMahon of Danberry National LTD.


Art Jibilian lost his battle to leukemia over the weekend and passed away. Prior to Art entering the hospital for what turned out to be his last chemo treatment, he must have had a premonition. One of the last discussions I had with Art was that:

"If something happens to me, please make sure that you thank all the people who have helped me in my efforts to recognize the Serbian people and re-write history with regards to General Mihailovich. Tell everyone how much it means to me that I was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. I never expected in my wildest dreams to ever be considered worthy of the Medal of Honor. All these special events that people have created, and their efforts to assist me, meant a great deal to me. Even if I never receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, 'it was a great ride' and most men my age never have an opportunity to participate in these types of events and meet so many great people."

In that regard, Art Jibilian would like to thank the following individuals and organizations in no particular order of importance. I will try to do this in the chronological order in which they took place:

- To Bill Hirzel and Capt. Bill David and all the Members of the EAA Chapter 582 for honoring me at their Air Show at Metcalf Airport

- To Bridgett David who provided medical and psychological comfort for me and my family during these trips to the Indy Championship Race and Air Venture/Oshkosh.

- To the members of the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport for flying me to that Air Show in their B-17

- To General A. J. Feucht, Jr., Col. Bartman, Capt. Bentley, Col. Mike Digby and all the members of the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air Guard for that special event that took place at the Air Guard on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th of 2 years ago. I was especially honored to be installed
as a "Honorary Colonel".

- To racing legend - Scott Goodyear - for inviting Dr. Harold Brown and myself to the Indy Championship Race in Chicago last year

- To John Wagner and his family for flying me to Oshkosh

- To John Robinson Block, Dave Murray and Joe Zerbey from the TOLEDO BLADE and Jack Kelly of the PITTSBURG-POST GAZETTE for their articles and support in helping me share the fact that the Tuskegee Airmen flew cover for a number of these rescue missions. Without the support of the Tuskegee Airmen, we would not have been able to keep all 512 airmen escape from behind enemy lines and return us safely home.

- To my good friend Dr. Harold Brown and all of the Tuskegee Airmen for providing air cover during "Operation Halyard".

- To Gregory Freeman for publishing THE FORGOTTEN 500 that allowed so many people to become aware of "Operation Halyard" and all the individuals who participated in this rescue mission.

- To Danny Clisham of the EAA who allowed us to participated in the AirVenture/Oshkosh program and gave me the opportunity to thank the Tuskegee Airmen for their efforts.

- To Tim Barzen and members of the RED TAIL REBORN for all of their efforts.

- To Brad Ball of NASCAR and Jack Roush of Roush Fenway Racing for their efforts to contact the national media.

- To Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, Dan Saevig, and Vern Snyder for including me and my friend, Dr. Harold Brown in last year's UT Homecoming and including us in the Parade of Heroes.

- To Joe Zerbey and the members of the Toledo Rotary providing me with the last opportunity to make a public presentation on Operation Halyard.

- To Mim, the Tesla Memorial Society and all the members of the Serbian community who worked so hard on my behalf.

On behalf of all of us who were touched by Art's heroism, his final tribute was to donate his body to the University of Toledo's Medical College for research. We want to thank his wife Jo and his daughter Debi for sharing Art with us during what was a very difficult time


Brian W. McMahon/President


Perrysburg, Ohio


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Jibilian and Freeman / Arthur Jibilian's last interview on "Foreign Policy and You" coming soon

"I had the privilege and honor of interviewing Mr. Jibilian. It turned out to be his last interview (together with Mr. Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500). As soon as we post the interview in our podcast archive we will let you know."

José A. Amorós

Foreign Policy and You


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at

Local WWII hero Jibilian dies of cancer // The News-Messenger

BY MATT MANNING • Staff writer • March 23, 2010
The News-Messenger

Arthur Jibilian in 2009 / News-Messenger Photo

FREMONT -- A local war hero and lone surviving member of 1944's Operation Halyard has died.

Art Jibilian, 86, has been battling leukemia since July 2008. He died Sunday afternoon.

Jibilian, a radio operator, was nominated for the military's highest honor for his actions during five months in 1944, helping to rescue hundreds of people from a German-occupied area in Serbia.

Jibilian was one of three Office of Strategic Services agents who parachuted into central Serbia in August 1944 to rescue what he thought was 50 downed airmen.

"We didn't find 50," Jibilian would later say. "We found 250."

Over the next six months, Jibilian constructed a landing strip and coordinated evacuation flights and medical help at night as the people in the Serbian village housed and protected the soldiers under the leadership of Drazha Mihailovich -- leader of the Royal Yugoslav Army.

His daughter, Debi Jibilian, said the family plans an event Saturday in Fremont, though funeral plans have not been set.

"It's going to be a celebration of his life," Debi Jibilian said. "This is his home, and this is where it'll be."

Debi said her father lived for 18 months after doctors said he had two weeks left.

Instead of battling for his life, he fought to clear the name of a man who helped save him and his fellow colleagues in the mission -- Drazha Mihailovich. Jibilian revisited Serbia on several occasions, speaking to crowds and praising Mihailovich, who had been labeled as a "collaborator" with Nazis and was executed.

The mission was documented in Gregory A. Freeman's 2007 book, "The Forgotten 500."

"With the passing of Arthur Jibilian, our country has lost a true American hero," Freeman wrote in a statement to The News-Messenger. "Arthur's brave work in rescuing downed American airmen in World War II must never be forgotten, and I am honored to have known him.

"He was the quintessential American hero -- humble, modest, quietly proud, but ferocious in seeking justice."

Jibilian was set to received the Golden Deeds Award on April 17 from the Exchange Club of Fremont.

He received a congressional honor for his duty in 2008 from U.S. Rep. Bob Latta. Latta on Monday gave a speech on the floor of Congress to honor Jibilian.

"They have yet to receive a military/government recognition for their actions," Latta said. "I will continue to work on this legislation to honor this exceptional American with the recognition he deserves."

Freeman said "The Forgotten 500" has been optioned for a motion picture by Dana Maksimovich, who co-produced Oscar winner "Crash" and "In the Valley of Elah."

"We're excited about the prospects of seeing 'The Forgotten 500,' on the big screen," Freeman said.

Jibilian also was a strong supporter of making a major film about the WWII story.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


A Celebration of Life - Memorial Service for Arthur Jibilian to be held Saturday March 27, 2010

OSS Radioman Arthur Jibilian among a group of American airmen,
 kneeling in the front row in the light colored shirt.
Directly behind him are Captain Nick Lalich and
General Draza Mihailovich.
Serbia 1944

From the family of Arthur Jibilian:

Jibby may have lost his battle with leukemia, but there are many of us left to celebrate his life. Please join us - even in spirit only, if you can't make it - for a Celebration of Life on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at the American Legion, 2000 Buckland Avenue, Fremont, Ohio 43420. The family will greet old and new friends from 1 - 3 p.m., sharing Jibby's awards, recognitions, and gifts from the last eighteen months.

In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the:

North Coast Cancer Foundation
P. O. Box 2024
Sandusky, Ohio 44871-2024

Or the donor's choice.

For those of you who would like to send a note to the family, their address is:

The Family of Arthur Jibilian
2118 Roselawn Drive
Fremont, Ohio 43420


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Monday, March 22, 2010

Lest We Forget vets visit 109-year-old WWI comrade Frank Buckles and Halyard Mission veteran Arthur Jibilian

NOTE: The following story was published in the Herald Palladium of Southwest Michigan on the same day that Arthur Jibilian, who is featured at the end, passed away.

My thanks to Don Alsbro of 'Lest we Forget' for making me aware of this story.

Aleksandra Rebic



By WILLIAM F. AST III - H-P Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, March 21, 2010 1:08 PM EDT

Lest We Forget vets visit 109-year-old WWI comrade

Don Alsbro, left, and Frank Buckles March 2010

Frank Buckles last weekend got a big smile on his face as the Lest We Forget veterans left his house and said they were looking forward to his 110th birthday in 2011.

Buckles, 109, is America's last living veteran of World War I. The Lest We Forget veterans from Southwest Michigan had made their third recent trip to his farm in Charles Town, W.Va., to pay him a visit.

Lest We Forget President Don Alsbro, one of the five who made the trip, said Buckles appears to still be doing well and might indeed make 110.

"I appreciate you coming," Buckles told the group, according to Alsbro. "It is a long way from Michigan."

Alsbro presented Buckles with a framed copy of a letter from U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, saying he's signed on as a cosponsor of a bill to create a national monument in Washington to honor World War I veterans. There is no such monument now, and Buckles is honorary chairman of the effort.

"He would like to see something approved before he passes on," Alsbro said.

After World War I, Buckles met famed Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, the overall American commander in the war.

Buckles told the group Pershing was traveling around the country giving talks, and he went to see the general at a convention center. He was the only man there to wear a uniform.

"After the general was done with the program, he asked to speak to the fellow in uniform," Buckles said. "He recognized the Missouri accent and asked where I was from. Turns out he was born only three miles, as the crow flies, from where I lived."

When the group left, Lest We Forget member Ray Damaske told him, "auf wiedersehen," or "goodbye" in German. "Danke schön," Buckles replied.

Buckles, born Feb. 1, 1901, enlisted in the Army in Oklahoma City in 1917 at the age of 16, even though the enlistment age was 21. Army officials told him they needed to see a birth certificate, but Buckles told them Missouri didn't have such things. He served in France.

Ironically, Buckles was working as a civilian in the Philippines when Japan invaded in late 1941. He spent three and a half years in Japanese prison camps.

He now lives near Harper's Ferry and Antietam, on land first surveyed by George Washington. Buckles said it's the same area in which one of his ancestors settled in 1732.

"For veterans he's a rock star," Lest We Forget member Dan Stice told The Journal in Charles Town in a story published March 14.

Buckles and his daughter and her husband are on a 300-acre farm. He drove a car until he was 103, and a tractor until he was 106.

Alsbro said Buckles and Claude Choules of Australia, also 109, are the last World War I survivors. He said that information came from Buckles' agent, David DeJonge of Grand Rapids.

The Lest We Forget veterans also stopped in Ohio to present World War II veteran Art Jibilian a letter from Upton. Alsbro said Upton is a cosponsor of a bill that would raise Jibilian's Silver Star medal to a Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

Jibilian played a key role in Operation Halyard, the largest rescue of downed American airmen in World War II. That mission took place in 1944 in the former nation of Yugoslavia.

Clare Musgrove of St. Joseph Township was one of the downed airmen rescued in the mission.

The saga was the subject of "The Forgotten 500," a 2007 book by Gregory Freeman about the mission. Freeman was in the Twin Cities at last summer's World War II Re-enactment to talk about the mission.

Operation Halyard rescued 512 airmen, most of them Americans. But the mission caused discord among the allies, much of it remains classified, and the people who want Jibilian's medal to be upgraded have run into roadblocks.


If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at