We revive the memory of heroes – News online

Halliard Foundation

The film follows the life confession of George Vujnović

Nikola Selaković, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, attended the American premiere of the documentary film “The Last Hero of Halliard” in Chicago, which describes the only American war hero of Serbian origin who rests in the country of his ancestors. Vujnovic was one of the key participants in the rescue operation of hundreds of downed Allied airmen in Serbia called “Operation Halliard”.

The screening of the film and the reception on that occasion were organized by the Consulate General of Serbia in Chicago and the Halliard Foundation, in the prestigious Pricker Military Museum and Library in downtown Chicago. Numerous Americans, representatives of the Serbian diaspora and the diplomatic corps came to the reception and premiere of the film.

Minister Selaković pointed out that the Halliard mission is one of the pages of our history that we neither heard nor knew about, at least officially until about ten years ago.

Closeness with allies

– Through this film, which tells the life stories of ordinary people, Americans of Serbian descent, or Serbs on American soil who grew up here and were part of the American armed forces in Europe during World War II and carried out significant actions that saved lives, we see and one primordial closeness of an ordinary Serbian man with our allies from that time, and that was certainly America. When you look at the way in which US historians later explained the sacrifice made by ordinary Serbian villagers from Šumadija to save Allied airmen who were shot down, it really sounds incredible and impressive – said Selaković.

American pilots with residents of the village of Sljivovica

He pointed out that he has a sense of pride and sadness because this great work has not been known for decades, that people who sacrificed themselves to save someone’s life saw that light of the public and moments of talking about a great part at a time when almost more none of the participants are alive.

– In this way and with this film, we revive the memory of those people. We show the primordial humanity of the Serbian people, which really came to the fore here, but we also celebrate one type of our historical alliance and friendship with the United States that existed in the First and Second World Wars – the head of Serbian diplomacy underlined.

Positive stories about Serbia

Selaković especially praised John Capello, the president of the Halliard Foundation, when he said that he is a great friend of the Serbian people, a man who shows what an individual can do in creating ties between two peoples. The Minister expressed his belief that only in the time ahead, many forgotten pages of our common history will come to the fore, and people like Capello can do something like that.

– I am proud as a Serb and a minister that I had the opportunity to be in this place, on this occasion, in Chicago. For our Serbian community in the United States, and especially in Chicago, this was a special moment and a unique way of celebrating Christmas and our alliance and friendship – said Selaković.

Related history: Damjan Jovic, John Capello and Nikola Selakovic

Capello said that many Americans do not know about the Halliard mission.

– Members of the Serbian community mostly know about this story, but not many Americans. Our mission is to spread that story, with the goal of paying tribute to what has been done and at the same time showing the relations between Serbia and the United States – he said.

Many Americans first heard of the Halliard mission

Capello emphasized that the Halliard mission shows the relations between Serbia and the United States, countries that have a connected history.

– It is not difficult to talk about positive things about Serbia in the United States, but many Americans do not know much about Serbia. However, the Americans are ready to hear many positive stories about Serbia – Capello said.

George Mane Vujnovic

Buried in Belgrade

George Mane Vujnovic was an American intelligence major of Serbian origin and one of the most important participants in the rescue of American airmen shot down over the territory of Yugoslavia in 1944, in the famous Operation Halliard. He was born in Pittsburgh, in a family of Serbian emigrants who immigrated in 1912. With the help of Serbian emigrant organizations, he received a scholarship to study at the Medical Faculty in Belgrade. There he met Mirjana Lazić, with whom he married on the eve of the Second World War. He left Belgrade at the beginning of the April War of 1941.

During the summer of 1944, Vujnović worked on preparations for Operation Halliard, the goal of which was to pull down downed Allied pilots from the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. According to the instructions of General Nathan Twining, commander of the 15th Corps and later Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, he designed and implemented this complex and risky operation. As an important part of the operation, Vujnovic trained American airmen and agents on how to behave like Serbs when landing.

Vujnović passed away in 2012. According to his own wish, he was buried in the family tomb of his wife in Belgrade.

Vujnović with his wife Mirjana

New partnership

Selaković pointed out that, when it comes to history, we can pass on to future generations what is a story about historical events, but the most important thing is that what we are doing today will one day be history.

– Today we are influencing what will one day be history. Certainly, what we are trying to do, both President Aleksandar Vučić and the Government, our diplomatic and consular missions in the United States, is to develop cooperation with America, to build a new partnership in the times to come. We see that even today that cooperation is bearing fruit. Microsoft in Serbia, NCR, Amazon and many other joint projects we are working on are something that will one day be history, the bright side of our new history – he emphasized.

Source: Vesti online by www.vesti-online.com.

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