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."


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