Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Seen around the world! "FREEDOM OR DEATH" - An American WWII Airman's grandson gets tattoo honoring the Serbian Chetniks! / A legacy of Staff Sgt. Curtis "Bud" Diles of the USAF and General Draza Mihailovich

Aleksandra's Note: The young man featured in this post is one of 26 direct descendants of Staff Sgt. Curtis Bud Diles, a U.S. Airforce WWII veteran who was shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia in 1944 while on the dangerous Ploesti bombing campaigns that were being conducted against Hitler and the Germans to destroy their oil supply and cripple their capacity to continue the war. Taylor Matthews lost his beloved grandfather Curtis Diles in September of 2014, but he did not forget the legacy that the WWII hero taught him.

The "Diles Descendants" are an extraordinary family. They are a living, breathing example of what saving just one single man on this earth can mean to the future.

I am blessed to have known Curtis Diles personally, and I'm confident that I can presume to speak on his behalf right now.
Thank you for remembering and thank you for honoring the legacy that you are a beneficiary of.

Aleksandra Rebic
May 2016

Staff Sgt. Curtis Diles, upper left corner, and his 26 direct descendants.
Collage by daughter Diane Diles Hammond, 4th from left, top row.

From Diane Diles Hammond, daughter of Staff Sgt. Curtis "Bud" Diles, one of the "Forgotten 500" American WWII airmen rescued by General Draza Mihailovich and his Chetnik Forces in 1944, in Nazi-occupied Serbia:

"My Serbian friends - Dad's mission to spread the truth about General Draza Mihailovich and the Serbian Chetniks did not end with his death in 2014. This is my nephew, Taylor, Curtis Diles' grandson. One day, Taylor's children and grandchildren will be asking him about his tattoo, ["Sloboda ili Smrt"] "Freedom or Death". The truth shall prevail.... long live the Serbian Chetniks! Grandpa would be so proud of you, Taylor, just as I am. Thank you for carrying his torch with me!"

Diane Diles Hammond



on Facebook, May 9, 2016

I interrupt your Mother's Day feeds for a long post of my own. When my grandpa [Curtis Diles] was 19, his B-24 Liberator was shot down over Nazi-controlled Serbia. A group of Serbian guerrilla fighters, who called themselves Chetniks, took him and hundreds of other US airmen in, gave them food, shelter, and protection as they made their way to makeshift runways.

US cargo planes would fly in under the cover of night to bring these young men home. It was called Operation Halyard, one of the largest rescue missions in United States history. It's fair to say that without this group of people, I might not be here today.

This flag is the flag of the Chetniks. Their leader, Draza Mihailovic, was arrested for treason and executed by the post-war Communist government of Yugoslavia. The United States government remained silent during his trial, despite his efforts to rescue almost 400 [over 500] American citizens. My grandpa spent his entire life trying to tell the story of how Mihailovic and the Chetniks treated him and his fellow soldiers. When my grandpa passed away two years ago, I thought about getting this tattoo. Today I followed through. This is my way of honoring him and the Chetnik people.

"[With Faith in God] For King and Country, Freedom or Death". My body now owns the last half of that phrase. If you care to know, Wikipedia has some great information on the Chetniks and Operation Halyard. Take some time to read through these if you like. There's a lot of really interesting and messy history here. It matters to me. It mattered to my grandpa.

Thanks for reading.

Taylor Matthews
May 9, 2016


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