Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Halyard Mission and the Tuskegee Airmen highlighted on "Fox Toledo" News - Toledo, Ohio July 2011 / TV broadcasts and news stories featuring Arthur and Debi Jibilian, Toledo Mayor Michael Bell, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, and Lt. Col. Harold Brown


A secret mission that must be told


Friday, 22 Jul 2011 3:54 PM EDT

Sharia Davis

FOX Toledo News reporter

Lt. Col. Dr. Harold Brown, left, and Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian

SWANTON, Ohio (WUPW) - "Operation Halyard" was a secret mission that saved the lives of 513 servicemen in Germany-occupied Yugoslavia in 1944 near the end of World War II.

The late Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian, a Navy vet who was attached to the OSI, a precursor to the CIA, played a key role in that rescue mission. His family says Mr. Jibilian has the Tuskegee Airmen to thank for making it out of Yugoslavia alive.

On Saturday, July 23, Toledo Mayor Michael Bell will be inducted as an honorary member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Mayor Bell's effort in recognizing Mr. Jibilian, landed the mayor this honor.

It's a part of history the Jibilians say everyone should know about.

Debi Jibilian says her late father's heroic efforts is the basis of a recently-published book called "The Forgotten 500" by Gregory Freeman. It draws upon declassified documents and intimate interviews that recount a major WWII rescue mission in 1944 near the end of war called "Operation Halyard."

But it was the the first black squadron, better known as the Red-Tailed Angels, Tuskegee Airmen, that kept those men safe.

"Thanks to the Tuskegee Airmen who flew over everybody, got out," Debi said. "They never lost a plane. They never lost a man and everybody got out."

Jibilian, who died from complications of Leukemia in March 2010, was the last member to recount the story of "Operation Halyard" - a majorly-secret rescue mission that plucked the airmen and other Allied soldiers between August - December of 1944 from under the Nazi's noses.

They did it from a crudely constructed airfield that was cleared on top of a hill in the Village of Pranjani, Serbia, a plateau 55 miles south of Belgrade. The mission was coordinated by the Americans, British and Serbians. The Allied forces worked closely with General Draza Mihailovich, a Serbian guerrilla, to carry out the rescue mission.

Debi says the Tuskegee Airmen distracted the German outpost so all the men, including her father, could get out safe.

"I don't know if daddy would have made it home," she said. "I know certainly some of those men would have madeit, some of the Forgotten 500 would have made it, but there certainly would have been lost planes and casualties. It would have not been the success that it was."

Air Force Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dr. Harold Brown doesn't know if he was a part of that rescue mission in 1944 because it was kept secret, but he recalls being shot down by German pilots during the war. When he was captured in Austria, he says the Germans didn't expect to see a pilot of his color.

"I almost think they were in a state of shock for a while," he said. "What am I doing in Germany looking like this?"

Brown thought his life was over, but a German officer had other plans.

"That guy was a constable there," Brown recalled. "He probably knew everyone of those people were probably one of his dear friends, but yet and still he held a rifle on them and he saved my life."

A few years ago Lt. Col. Brown and Jibilian met for the very first time. Jibilian didn't know it was the Tuskegee Airmen that escorted the Forgotten 500 back to safety until a few years before he passed. Debi says her father was very grateful for their help, and says it's a story everyone should know.

"It's the biggest military rescue in history that never happened," she said.

To view the video, please click on the link below:


Toledo Mayor Michael Bell
becomes honorary Tuskegee Airmen

Toledo Mayor Michael Bell

Updated Sunday, 24 Jul 2011, 12:24 AM EDT
Published : Saturday, 23 Jul 2011, 11:36 PM EDT

Sharia Davis

FOX Toledo News reporter

YPSILANT, Mich. (WUPW) - Toledo Mayor Michael Bell received a special recognition Saturday morning as he became an honorary Tuskegee Airmen. At the ceremony in Ypsilanti, Mich., he got to see first hand what some of the first black pilots did during World War II.

The ceremony was held at the Over Thunder Michigan Airshow at Willow Run Airport in Washtenaw County. Thousands of people were there to check out military aircraft that date back to World War II. But before the airs how started, there was an re-enactment of a special mission that involved the Tuskegee Airmen.

"If I was on the ground and saw a plane coming over top of me where you can almost look at the pilot in the eyes, now that's some flying," said Mayor Bell.

To view the video, please click on the link below:


Proud to be a member of Tuskegee
Toledo's mayor inducted into organization

Updated: Monday, 25 Jul 2011, 10:49 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 24 Jul 2011, 8:23 PM EDT

Sharia Davis

FOX Toledo News reporter

Toledo Mayor Michael Bell

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WUPW) - Toledo's mayor can now call himself an honorary Tuskegee Airmen. Mayor Mike Bell was inducted by the prestigious organization on Saturday.

“I was treated better in Germany than I was treated as a POW in Mississippi because in Mississippi at the time blacks were being lynched and segregated,” said Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, Tuskegee Airmen.

“It was a very select group of people, there's less than 1,000 of us, only 450 of us fought the war, the rest stayed here as bomber pilots,” added Lt. Col. Harold Brown, also a Tuskegee Airmen.

They’re the first black military pilots of our time. During the war many African Americans had to fight against racism. But it was perseverance that allowed these men of color to achieve their goal.

“It's a big deal to be a part of this special group,” said Brown.

“These are the principles of the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Jefferson.

That's why members inducted Mayor Bell as an honorary airman on Saturday. They say his dedication to the city, the state, and the country made him a perfect candidate.

“It just shows the unity of America and because of our differences we're actually stronger, we all bring something to the table,” said the mayor said.

To view the video, please click on the link below:


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