Diane Diles Hammond March 2014
Curtis Diles with his daughter Diane, March 31, 2013.
Aleksandra's Note: I hope that many Serbs who are familiar with the great true story of the Halyard Mission Rescue Operation of 1944 in the Nazi-occupied Serbian lands respond as soon as possible to this request from the daughter of Curtis "Bud" Diles, one of the last remaining living American veterans of that legendary mission.
Curtis "Bud" Diles, 88, is one of the "Forgotten 500" - an American Army Air Force WWII veteran that flew bombing missions over Nazi targets in the war, who was shot down by the enemy, and who was saved by the Mihailovich Serbs in Nazi-occupied Serbia in 1944. He was born in July of 1925 and though he may have forgotten many things through the course of his long life, he has never forgotten the 9 days he spent with the Serbs and how they saved his life, took care of him, and got him back to his home base only 10 days after he had fallen out of the sky over Yugoslavia.
I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Curtis Diles in Chicago, in May of 1994, when he came to participate in the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Halyard Mission Rescue Operation being celebrated that year as part of the D-Day Anniversary ceremonies being held throughout the United States. We became instant friends and have stayed in touch ever since. At 88, he continues to share his memories and gratitude for what the Serbs did for the Americans behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia in 1944. He has never forgotten General Mihailovich or his Chetnik forces and is convinced that he would not have returned alive to America and a long and happy post-war life had it not been for the Serbs.
Curtis Diles has led a rich life. After the war he was discharged from the Army Air Force in November of 1945, returned to Ohio, and married Inez Pruitt of Kentucky in 1948. Together, he and his wife have three daughters and one son, 15 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren - for a total of 26 descendants who are alive today because Curtis Diles was saved.
As with other rescued airmen I've had the privilege of becoming acquainted with over the years, I'm struck by how humble, stoic, and noble men such as Curtis Diles are. They truly exemplify everything that’s honorable about the American Armed Forces. My sincere gratitude goes out to Curtis "Bud" Diles for continuing to remain dedicated to spreading the word about General Mihailovich and the Halyard Mission through all these years.
I treasure men like Curtis "Bud" Diles. He is truly "the greatest generation."
And now - the request from his daughter Diane Diles Hammond:
Hi my Serbian friends,
Next Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 is my dad's 89th birthday (Curtis Diles, Halyard Mission, Forgotten 500). There's very little that sparks his passion these days. It seems the only thing he still has a fire for is his love for the Serbian people that saved his life in WWII. That's about the only thing he wants to talk about...living it as though it was yesterday. He feels he can never repay his debt. You are his family. Nothing would make him happier than to receive HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes (and maybe a few comments) from the Serbs.
They can email me at:
or they can send me a friend request and send me a message on Facebook. I will print them, place them in a fancy notebook, and give them to him on his birthday. He's unable to get on his computer, so he won't see any wishes posted on his Facebook wall. My brother was in town during the 4th of July celebration. I made these t-shirts for me and my 3 siblings so that dad would smile and trust that we will continue to carry the torch for him. Thank you, in advance, for your help in giving my dad a very special Happy Birthday!
Diane Diles Hammond (red shirt) and her three siblings - the four children of Curtis Diles.
Photo courtesy of Diane July 2014.
Curtis Diles sharing his WWII Serbian rescue story with his grandchildren
on Easter, March 31, 2013. Photo courtesy of Diane Diles Hammond.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra,
please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org