Thursday, September 06, 2018

Plaque honoring WWII [Halyard Mission] heroes rededicated at VFW / "News-Messenger" Aug. 31, 2018

August 31, 2018
Staff Report

Plaque honoring WWII [Halyard Mission] heroes rededicated at VFW

The plaque now at Fremont VFW honors the rescuers and those rescued.
(Photo: Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger)

Debi Jibilian, daughter of World War II war hero Navy Specialist 1st Class Arthur Jibilian, speaks at the dedication of a memorial plaque honoring WWII heroes moved to the from the Fremont American Legion to the Fremont VFW Post.
(Photo: Molly Corfman/The News-Messenger)

Memorial honors Fremont man, others who rescued 500 trapped U.S. airmen

FREMONT - The family of the late Arthur "Jibby" Jibilian, a World War II hero from Fremont, attended the rededication Thursday of a memorial plaque that was moved across town from the now-closed American Legion to the Fremont VFW Post.

Jibilian, who lived in Fremont from 1978 until his death in 2010, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in March 2018, along with others who took part in the rescue.

He was sent with other American troops in cargo planes to land behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia to rescue the airmen.

The airmen were airlifted out from the Nazi-controlled territory in waves starting in August, 1944.

The mission was documented in the 2008 book "The Forgotten 500" by Gregory A. Freeman.

"The mission was a complete success — the kind that should have been trumpeted in news reels and on the front page," Freeman wrote on his website.

Jibilian's daughter, Debi Jibilian, said her father was proud of the plaque because it honors Serbian Gen. Draza Mihailovich and the Royal Yugoslav Army "Chetniks" who made the rescue possible.

"General Mihailovich gave the order to save the airmen at all costs," Debi Jibilian said Thursday.

The Serb villagers risked their lives by protecting the Americans.

"This plaque meant so much to Daddy because General Mihailovich and the Serbian people get forgotten so much in all of this, and we owe these Serbian people a tremendous debt of gratitude," Debi Jibilian said.

The memorial plaque was moved from the former American Legion Hall, which has been closed since January 2017, and now hangs on a wall at the Fremont VFW Post.

"We were afraid it would be lost forever," Debi Jibilian said of the plaque. "Thank you for saving it. We're thrilled."


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