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The Testimony of Staff Sergeant Gus T. Brown, first American Airman to meet General Mihailovich
www.generalmihailovich.com ^ | March 2009/April 2010 | Staff Sergeant Gus T. Brown, U.S. Army Air Force

Posted on 04/16/2010 6:19:14 PM PDT by Ravnagora

Staff Sergeant Gus T. Brown testifying before the Commission of Inquiry in New York, May 1946. He was the first of the American Airmen who fell in Serbia in 1944 to meet General Draza Mihailovich.

"Upon arriving there was no formality—there was formality, but was nothing like I would expect when meeting a general of some other army. I went in there, and this captain that went with me knocked on the General’s door, and he immediately told me to come in, and when I was about to salute he told me I did not have to salute, and he wanted to talk to me. This captain could speak some English and interpreted to me what the General was saying. And he talked to us about everything, he talked about Texas, he wanted to go and live on a ranch some day, he said. And I asked him why they were fighting, why he and Tito were fighting; and he told me the reason was he was fighting for a democratic Yugoslavia and Tito was fighting for something a lot different from a democracy, which was communism. And he told me all he wanted out of the war was a bit of America in Yugoslavia; he said he wanted no personal gain whatsoever. He said he was a soldier and he would remain a soldier."

From the testimony of Staff Sergeant Gus T. Brown, the first American Airman to meet General Draza Mihailovich,before the Commission of Inquiry, New York City, May 1946

____________________________________

On May 13, 1946, the Committee for a Fair Trial for General Mihailovich announced that a Commission of Inquiry had been established in New York for the purpose of taking testimonies of American officers and airmen whose request to be heard as witnesses at the trial of General Draza Mihailovich in Belgrade, Yugoslavia had been refused by the Tito government.

____________________________________

PROCEEDINGS ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 1946

Committee for a Fair Trial for Draza Mihailovich Commission of Inquiry in the Matter of Depositions of American and Allied Military Personnel New York County Lawyers Association New York, May 15, 1946 Met pursuant to adjournment Present: Arthur Garfield Hays, Esq., Theodore Kiendl, Esq., Adolph Berle, Esq., members of the Commission of Inquiry; Porter R. Chandler, Esq., and William H. Timbers, Esq.

THE FOLLOWING IS STAFF SERGEANT GUS T. BROWN, JR.’S TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY MAY 15, 1946. Staff Sergeant Gus T. Brown was the first of the American Airmen who fell in Nazi occupied Serbia to meet General Draza Mihailovich in 1944.

GUS T. BROWN, JR. called as a witness, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

EXAMINATION BY MR. CHANDLER: Your name is Gus T. Brown, Jr.?

BROWN: Yes.

Q: And you live at 700 East Bowie Street, Luling, Texas?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You came here all the way from Texas to testify at this proceeding?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Of your own free will and without any coercion?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And if given a chance you would go to Belgrade to testify, would you?

A: I certainly would.

Q: You are now in the ranch business in Texas, is that right?

A: That is right.

Q: You were a member of the United States Army Air Forces?

A: That is right.

Q: From about when to about when?

A: From July, 1942, until October, 1945.

Q: When did you go overseas?

A: In September, 1943.

Q: As a member of what outfit?

A: I was not assigned at the time, but I joined the 99th Bomb Group in Africa.

Q: Whereabouts?

A: Tunis.

Q: What was your duty?

A: I was a flight engineer.

Q: What kind of planes did the 99th Bomb Group have?

A: B-17s.

BY MR. HAYS: How old a man are you?

BROWN: 23.

Q: What was your rank when you came out of the Army?

A: Staff sergeant.

BY MR. CHANDLER: When did you fly your first combat mission?

BROWN: October, 1943.

Q: From where?

A: From Tunis.

Q: You flew some more missions in the course of that Autumn?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Generally into what area?

A: I flew my first two missions to Austria and the remainder were in the Balkans.

Q: Where did you leave from in Italy.

A: Foggia.

Q: And you flew some more missions from Foggia into the Balkans?

A: Two.

Q: Your last mission from Foggia was on the 24th of January, 1944?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And you were shot down on that mission?

A: That is right.

Q: Will you tell briefly what the mission was and trace the course of it on the map with your finger?

A: We were going to Sofia, Bulgaria; we were coming back—

Q: Excuse me; how many planes were there on the mission?

A: Approximately 100 planes.

Q: Bombing targets in Sofia?

A: Yes, sir. Coming back we were jumped by fighters; two of our engines were shot out, and we had to parachute in the vicinity of the mountain of Zlatibor, which is down in this area.

BY MR. HAYS: In the northern part of Yugoslavia?

BROWN: No, sir.

BY MR. KIENDL: It is in southern Serbia, is it not?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

BY MR. CHANDLER: You abandoned ship over that area?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Q: How many members of the crew were there?

A: Ten.

Q: How many got out of the ship?

A: All ten.

Q: All ten got out of the ship?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Tell me in your own words just what happened when you came down and who you saw first when you landed.

A: Well, I landed alone to start with and it was snowing very heavily, visibility was very poor, and when I hit the ground I buried my parachute and was going to head west, which was toward the sea coast.

Q: What sort of place was it where you came down?

A: Very mountainous, tall timber, and snow about two feet deep.

Q: Go ahead.

A: No town; it was in the peasant district in the mountains. I started out to go west, and I saw I could not go very far because I did not have any shoes, so I waited, and I saw someone coming over the mountain, and as the person got nearer I saw it was one of my crew-mates, Richard Hobby, and we got together and decided we would both try to go over this mountain west towards the coast.

BY MR. HAYS: Towards what coast?

BROWN: The Adriatic. We started out sticking to the wooded area, and we got to an open spot on the side of this mountain we had to cross, and we heard a shot. We could hear dogs barking and hear people talking but we could not see them. So we dug up our parachute and threw it on a pile of wood to make it look like a snow bank. We thought we would try to stay all night right there. It was awfully cold, and we were doing fine until about 10 o’clock, when we saw a bunch of lanterns coming down the mountain, and as they got nearer it looked as though they were coming right to the tent we had made there, and when they got within 30 feet of us they just turned and went right around us; evidently they did not see us. To us it looked like a German patrol or some kind of occupation patrol. We got to talking, and we thought we would either have to go up or freeze to death. So we got out on the mountain side and started hollering. We got an answer; and also on this patrol we had seen earlier, you could see them walking with a lantern; they stopped, and we heard this answer, and as the answer got nearer the light kept going further away. We stayed there for thirty or forty minutes, and then all of a sudden behind us we heard someone say “Americans.” And we threw up our hands and stood there. Three Chetniks ran down the mountain, and they kissed us and gave us cigarettes to smoke and started us down the mountain. We had been briefed previously back at our base that if we went down in Yugoslavia to always go to General Tito’s forces and not to go with Mihailovich’s forces.

BY MR. CHANDLER: You had been told that the Chetniks were on the enemy side of the fence?

BROWN: We were told to try to get with the Partisans if possible. When I heard the Chetniks I knew right away we were with someone besides the Germans.

BY MR. HAYS: This was when?

BROWN: January, 1944. I think we were the first crew in Yugoslavia in Mihailovich’s territory. They took us down to this little house and put us up, and the shooting started right away. The Chetniks told us later that they were fighting off the German patrol. They moved us up in a barn and gave us some hot soup. They brought out their native drink and they started drinking toasts to President Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin and Mihailovich.

The next day we had a note from our pilot who was about ten miles away, telling us if we would go with this man he would bring us to him. So the other fellow and myself were anxious to go. The Chetniks held us up there about three hours. So all this time they were out scouting for horses for us to ride so we would not have to walk. In the meantime about 30 Chetnik soldiers had gathered to escort us.

BY MR. CHANDLER: The rest of your crew had got together with the pilot about ten miles off?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Q: Were any of your crew hurt landing?

A: There were a few minor injuries, yes, sir.

Q: Nobody incapacitated?

A: No.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Now, go on with your story.

BROWN: We started this trek toward General Mihailovich’s headquarters. We got to the corps commander the next day; that was Captain Kolarovic.

Q: About how many miles was it before you got to him?

A: Oh, I would say roughly 20 or 25 miles. When we got there we were immediately taken into—this was a little village there, it had a church, and we were taken to the village and fed, and we met this commander. He said we must rest there for a few days before we started on our trek. He told us there was an American officer at General Mihailovich’s headquarters, he said it was a military secret, but he was going to take us there. He was referring to Captain Musulin.

BY MR. HAYS: How big a village was this?

BROWN: 200 people probably living within a couple of miles. We stayed there a few days and then started on our journey, and we went to Captain Musulin. It took us about six weeks. In the course of the time it took to get there we were chased by the Germans several times. We had to cross a railroad and a highway that was patrolled by German armored cars between Uzice and Pozega. We had to wait at a schoolhouse there because there was an armored German train in the rail station. After it pulled out we started, and crossed the river and had to run across to the railroad track and cross the highway. We had just started up this mountain and we heard an awful clattering sound, which was a German patrol car coming from this town. We watched it pass, and about ten minutes later another patrol car came. We went from there on and we got to Captain Musulin as I said about six weeks later.

Q: When you say “we” do you mean the ten members of your crew?

A: Yes.

Q: And about how many Chetniks?

A: We had about 30 or 40 escorting us; they seemed to me the best-equipped soldiers they had in that part of the country.

Q: And they fed you and took care of you on the way?

A: They certainly did, they gave us half of what they had.

Q: How did you stand the trip?

A: I guess I stood it just as well as anyone else.

BY MR. KIENDL: Of course a Texan always stands up under trouble?

BROWN: We had a little trouble.

BY MR. HAYS: What was the trouble with your shoes?

BROWN: I had on heated equipment when I parachuted. They were very thin rubber-soled, which fit like a sock, and you have heating coils in there, you do not have any leather soles on them at all.

Q: Did they supply you with shoes?

A: It took a little while before they finally did.

Q: Did you make this journey without shoes?

A: I think about six of us did.

Q: In winter?

A: Yes, sir, the snow was about two feet deep.

Q: The detachment of Chetnik soldiers with you, were they as large as the German patrol you saw?

A: The German patrol as I say only consisted of eight men.

BY MR. KIENDL: They were in armored cars?

BROWN: I do not know how many there were in there.

BY MR. HAYS: I suppose you were able to avoid the Germans?

BROWN: Yes.

Q: You were armed I suppose?

A: I was not.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Where did you meet up with Captain Musulin?

BROWN: At Pranjani.

Q: And that was about six weeks after the time you landed?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So it would be around the first week in March?

A: It was the last part of February?

Q: Where was General Mihailovich at that time?

A: I do not know where he was; I think he was in the immediate vicinity. That is where they were taking us, to his headquarters area, and as far as I know after we got to Captain Kolarovic, he told us that he was in that area.

Q: You stayed with Captain Musulin for a few days?

A: Yes, I got sick and was separated from my crew.

Q: When did that happen?

A: This happened I believe in April. Well, I took sick about the same time Captain Musulin did; and they had a chance to move towards the coast, and I told them to go ahead and I would stay with Captain Musulin. I stayed behind with Captain Musulin, helping him with his OSS work.

Q: The rest of your crew were sent under Chetnik escort to the coast to get out?

A: Yes.

Q: And you stayed with Captain Musulin to help him?

A: Because I was sick at the time.

Q: How long did you stay with him?

A: I was evacuated May 29, 1944.

Q: So from the end of February, through March and April and practically all of May you were there?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So far as you knew were you the first American airman ever to meet Mihailovich?

A: Yes, sir, that is what he told me.

Q: When did you meet him and where, and what did you have to say to each other?

A: I met him in the latter part of April, I do not remember the exact date. I had arrived with an escort, two escorts rather, on horses, I would say about 20 kilometers, at General Mihailovich’s headquarters south of Pranjani.

Upon arriving there was no formality—there was formality, but was nothing like I would expect when meeting a general of some other army. I went in there, and this captain that went with me knocked on the General’s door, and he immediately told me to come in, and when I was about to salute he told me I did not have to salute, and he wanted to talk to me. This captain could speak some English and interpreted to me what the General was saying. And he talked to us about everything, he talked about Texas, he wanted to go and live on a ranch some day, he said. And I asked him why they were fighting, why he and Tito were fighting; and he told me the reason was he was fighting for a democratic Yugoslavia and Tito was fighting for something a lot different from a democracy, which was communism. And he told me all he wanted out of the war was a bit of America in Yugoslavia; he said he wanted no personal gain whatsoever. He said he was a soldier and he would remain a soldier.

Q: Did he say anything about the Atlantic Charter?

A: Yes, he said what he wanted was a scrap of the Atlantic Charter and a bit of America.

BY MR. KIENDL: Preferably Texas?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Adjourned to May 16, 1946, at 11:30 a.m.

*****

Continuation of the examination of Gus T. Brown, Jr. May 16, 1946

MR. HAYS: The Commission is ready to proceed, gentlemen.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Mr. Brown, when we finished yesterday afternoon you had been testifying about an interview that you had with General Mihailovich; and I think we completed pretty well that statement. After your first meeting with General Mihailovich where did you stay?

BROWN: Where did I stay?

Q: Yes.

A: I went back to Pranjani and joined Captain Musulin.

Q: And you assisted Captain Musulin for a time in his work?

A: I did until I was evacuated.

Q: What period was that?

A: From April until May.

Q: Of 1944?

A: 1944, yes, sir.

Q: You heard from time to time broadcasts of BBC?

A: I did.

Q: They were your only source of information from the outside world, is that right?

A: That is right, yes, sir.

Q: Did you hear any instances where the BBC gave credit to the Partisans for something that the Partisans had not done?

A: I did.

Q: Will you tell us what you know about that?

A: We were listening to BBC and a news flash came over that Tito was shelling a town about three miles away called Gornji Milanovac.

Q: That town was about three miles from where you were listening to the BBC?

A: That is right.

Q: About when was this?

A: This was around about the last part of April, 1944. It was said they were shelling this town with artillery fire; and there were no Partisans in that part at that time.

Q: How near were the nearest Partisans?

A: I would say they were 100 kilometers away.

Q: Did you hear any other instance of that sort?

A: Yes, a plane came in and dropped supplies, and there was a copy of the Yank magazine showing a map of General [Marshal] Tito’s territory. I saw the map and looked at it, and the house that I was living in was in Marshal Tito’s territory. But as I said, the nearest Partisan was 100 kilometers away to our knowledge.

Q: In this territory which the Yank magazine said was Tito territory, but in which you were then living, did you talk with any of the peasants and people generally?

A: About the map?

Q: No, did you talk with any of the people?

A: Yes.

Q: Very freely?

A: Yes, sir, we lived with them.

Q: Were you allowed to talk with anybody?

A: I went anywhere I could find my way around.

BY MR. HAYS: You spoke of occasions where things were credited to the Partisans where they were not entitled to the credit?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Q: Were there any occasions where the BBC gave credit to the Partisans for acts that were done by Mihailovich that you know of?

A: No, sir, not that I know of.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Can you sum up for the Commission what the attitude of the people in the area where you were was towards General Mihailovich and towards the Allies?

BROWN: Well, these people at every house we stayed at always looked to General Mihailovich as a symbol of democracy, and I never ran into anybody that was not a loyal supporter of General Mihailovich; they looked to him like we do to Abraham Lincoln.

Q: Did they feed you?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What happened if they did not have enough for you and them?

A: We got it, the Americans did.

Q: Did you ever hear them express their attitude towards the Germans?

A: The peasant people?

Q: Yes.

A: Yes, they hated them.

Q: Did you ever hear any of Mihailovich’s troops indicate their attitude towards the Germans?

A: Yes, sir, very bitterly.

BY MR. HAYS: You spoke of supplies for the American and British missions.

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Q: Were supplies sent for those missions from outside?

A: Yes, sir, a plane was flown in for our evacuation, with clothing and food and stuff like that, for our evacuation from Yugoslavia.

Q: When food came in did your men use it themselves or did they share it with the Chetniks?

A: I got stuff for ten Americans, and I shared some of the clothing because there were not ten Americans there.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Did General Mihailovich ever ask you to do any favors in return for what he was doing for you?

BROWN: Yes, sir.

Q: Tell us about that.

A: He expressed his wish to come to Texas to live on a ranch for a little while after the war, and I told him he could come and stay a week or a day or a month or as long as he wanted to.

Q: Does that invitation still hold good?

A: It certainly does.

Q: Did he ever ask you for any other favor?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Tell us about that.

A: He asked me to tell the people of America when I got back the true situation that existed in Yugoslavia.

Q: And that is what you are trying to do?

A. Yes, sir. I tried when I got back in 1944, unsuccessfully.

BY MR. HAYS: And you would be wiling to go to Yugoslavia and tell the Yugoslav Court exactly what you have told us the last two days?

BROWN: Yes, sir, the way I feel about him, if he is a traitor I am also.

BY MR. CHANDLER: Is there anything you wish to add to your testimony?

BROWN: No, sir; the only thing I want to say is I was never treated better by poor people and decent people in my life, and I will never forget those people for what they have done.

Q: Did you make inquiries about any collaboration?

A: Yes, sir, I would ask the people where I would be living along with Captain Musulin, where I heard that Mihailovich was collaborating, and they said no, no, they knew it was not true.

Q: Were you present or did you have any knowledge of any fighting between the Partisans and the Chetniks?

A: I never did witness any, no, sir.

MR. HAYS: That is all.

THE WITNESS: I never saw a Partisan soldier all the time I was there.

MR. CHANDLER: Thank you very much, Mr. Brown.

END OF STAFF SERGEANT GUS T. BROWN, JR.’s TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY, MAY 16, 1946.

________________________________

The preceding was the third testimony in the series of testimonies before the Commission of Inquiry in New York in May of 1946. Compiled in "Patriot or Traitor" by David Martin.

____________________________________________


TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: mihailovich; serbia; wwii; yugoslavia

1 posted on 04/16/2010 6:19:15 PM PDT by Ravnagora
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To: joan; Smartass; zagor-te-nej; Lion in Winter; Honorary Serb; jb6; Incorrigible; DTA; vooch; ...

PING!


2 posted on 04/16/2010 6:21:09 PM PDT by Ravnagora
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To: Ravnagora

Gen. Dragoljub "Draža" Mihailović, 1942
3 posted on 04/16/2010 7:26:48 PM PDT by Rufii
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To: Ravnagora

Thanks for post.

My Friend.


4 posted on 04/16/2010 7:27:51 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.)
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To: Rufii
Just an FYI,

Walter ('That's the way it is' not) Cronkite was a big fan of Tito's.

That should tell you something about who Michailovic was and how he was betrayed by the Communist sympathizers in this country and among the Allies during WWII.

5 posted on 04/16/2010 7:33:37 PM PDT by wmileo
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To: wmileo

Sounds like Mihailovich was a great man, an unsung hero. We know Tito and the commies took control after the war, makes you wonder what ever became of Mihailovich.


6 posted on 04/16/2010 8:09:15 PM PDT by sasportas
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To: sasportas
Sounds like Mihailovich was a great man, an unsung hero. We know Tito and the commies took control after the war, makes you wonder what ever became of Mihailovich.

The Communists executed Mihailović in 1946. One of the few Westerners who spoke up for him was David Martin, author of Ally Betrayed: The Uncensored Story of Tito and Mihailović (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1946). In the early 1980's, Martin was still defending Mihailović on radio talk shows such as George Putnam's in Southern California.

7 posted on 04/17/2010 5:24:20 PM PDT by Rufii
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To: Rufii
The Communists executed Mihailović in 1946. So I was right, he was indeed a great man and an unsung hero - and more, I see now that he was a martyr. Make me appreciate Sergeant Gus Brown's testimony even more. It is a crying shame the truth about Mihailovic is not more widely known. Of course, with commies in control we should know why.
8 posted on 04/17/2010 6:50:55 PM PDT by sasportas
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To: sasportas
He was executed by the communists in 1946 for collaboration with the Nazis. Harry Truman gave him a medal but did disclose this for fear of offending the Tito government. Finally, in 2005 one of Mihailovich's living relatives excepted the medal.

Post WWII politics were as treacherous as they are now. Winston Churchill once said that the fate of Michailovich was the worst regret he had during WWII. He knew that the commies in the European Alliance sold this hero down the river.

Back then both the USA and Great Britain had Commies(Hiss, Philby, Burgess, and MacLean) running the foreign services of both nations.

9 posted on 04/20/2010 3:05:05 PM PDT by wmileo
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