Skip to comments.World War II Rescued American Airmen Defend Serbs [WARNING-GRAPHIC PHOTOS]
Posted on 02/07/2003 6:24:30 PM PST by Karadjordje
Open letterApril 9, 1999
To Our Troops In The Former Yugoslavia
|"We Found Out The Truth About the Serbs...When We Were Shot Down"
World War II Rescued American Airmen Defend Serbs
By Richard L. Felman
Over 500 MlAs Saved By The Serbian People During WWII
During World War II, we were in the Army Air Corps list as "Missing in Action" in the very same area you are now serving. If we may, we would like to relay to you a frank, soldier-to-soldier message about our personal experience while theresomething which politicians who sent you there have not told you and something which you have not read or seen in the anti-Serb media.
In 1944, the members of our committee were flying bombing missions out of Italy over Southern Europe. During that time over 500 of us were shot down over enemy-occupied Yugoslavia and saved from certain death by the Serbian people. Ours was the greatest rescue of American lives from behind enemy lines in history but has been kept under wraps all these years because of pressure from foreign sources. [Emphasis added]
While we were there, those of us who were wounded were given whatever medical supplies they had even at the deprivation of their own troops. If there was one piece of bread in the house, or one egg, it went to the American airmen while the Serb went hungry.
If there was one bed or one blanket, it went to us while the Serb slept on the bare ground. No risk of sacrifice was too great to insure our safety and well being. One experience which is forever seared in my memory is the time a village with 200 women and children was burned to the ground by the Germans because the Serbs would not tell them where they were hiding us. To this day, I can smell the terrible stench of their burning flesh. One does not forget such things.
The most incredible part of our rescue was that before each mission, our bomber crews were briefed by the highest levels of American intelligence that if shot down over Yugoslavia, we were to stay away from the Serbian people as they were collaborating with the Germans and "cutting off the ears of American airmen" before turning them over. Only after we were shot down did we find out the amazing thoroughness with which the truth about the Serbs was being distorted. [Emphasis added]
Further compounding this deception is the fact that while the Serbs were our allies in WWII, Croatians and Muslims (who we are favoring today) were allies of the Nazis, shooting at us and responsible for killing many of our fellow American fliers. In view of the lies we were told about the Serbs during World War II, we could not help but wonder if our foreign policy there today is the same anti-Serb bias we encountered 52 years ago.
Could our career diplomats sacrifice former friends and reward former enemies in the name of political expediency? Could it be because in the world community there are over one billion Muslims and only 9 million Serbian Orthodox Christians with the same proportionate power in the global economy? Could it be because the Serbs have no oil wells and no unlimited oil money?
Could it be because the Croatians and Muslims outspend the Serbs 50 to one on lobbyists, media firms and campaign contributions? Could this be why, "atrocities" are manufactured to make the Serbs look bad while gaining sympathy for their opponents? Could this be why the Serbs are branded "aggressors" in land they have lived on for over 600 years?
Could our policy have something to do with the fact there are 540 members of Congress, none of whom are Orthodox Christians? Could the State Departments bitter bias, against General Draza Mihailovich, the anti-Communist guerrilla leader who saved us, be based on the fact he was a Serb?
Could these be the reasons the State Department has covered up the truth of our rescue all these years and opposed our petition to express gratitude for saving over 500 American lives (a petition which is supported by the 8 million veterans of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Air Force Association and which has been approved by the United States Senate.)?
Could it be these are the reasons the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has also denied our petition by saying to us here are "ethnic groups in Yugoslavia" who oppose it?
Are we mad? You can bet your next months paycheck that we are mad! We did not leave our families, risk our lives and watch our buddies get their arms, legs and heads blown off so that "ethnic groups in Yugoslavia" could tell us what we could or could not do in our own country.
Now that the spring thaw has set in, temperatures and tempers will start to rise in the volatile area you now find yourselves. All we ask is that in your dealings with the local people you be made aware of the eyewitness experience of your fellow comrades-in-arms. By speaking out now we have nothing to gain except a burning moral passion to tell the truth, a sworn duty to protect our national honor, a patriotic desire to express heart felt gratitude to those on foreign soil who save American lives while they are fighting in defense of our glorious country.
Now that you have been sent to foreign soil and asked to risk your lives we feel you should know the truth and not be "suckered in" by the rhetoric of highly paid public relations firms, foreign lobbyists and self-serving politicians who know absolutely nothing of the regions history.
We might also add that had it not been for the Serbian people, Air Force General Donald J. Smith, our chairman and one our rescued airmen, would not have survived the war and been able to dedicate 40 years of honorable service to his country.
Had it not been for the Serbian people, technical Sgt. Curtis "Bud" Diles, another of our airmen, would not be alive today in Dayton, Ohio, enjoying retirement with his four children and 12 grandchildren.
There are hundreds of us with stories just like those. Some of the greatest testimony to the many sacrifices made on our behalf us the many thousands of American children who are alive today solely because the Serbian people saved over 500 of their grandfathers during World War II. Some of them could very well be serving with you today in Bosnia.
I was one of three rescued American airmen who returned last year to the former Yugoslavia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of victory in Europe with the people who saved us and to visit the cow pasture that served as a landing strip from which we were rescued. The most moving experience of our sentimental trip was being cheered by over 50,000 Serbs who gathered at a mountain top to welcome us and who kept chanting "USA, USA".
As American military men, we have a proud tradition of "duty, honor and country" to uphold and a fierce sense of loyalty to those with whom we fought side by side in combat. We never forget their kindness nor do we return their battlefield sacrifices for us by bombing their women and children. The Serbian people helped us when we were desperate and in trouble. Now that the situation is reversed we can do no less.
Please keep these untarnished truths in mind as you now serve our country and all it stands for, and may God bless you all as we pray for your safe return.
This war will not last long. If for no other reason, it appears the US Forces are already running low on missiles. And, Clintons blustering threats of "escorting the Albanian Kosovars back to their home" is silliness.
So far Clintons war has failed to even find ONE of Milosevics mobile units to shoot at. How does he plan on personally escort back the reported 1,000,000 Albanians his spokespersons claim have fled the country? The Serbs tied up 10 divisions of Hitlers Crack troopseven after they lost the war.
If he continues the kind of bombing he conducted last couple of nights, he is going to lose the humanitarian war on CNN. Pictures of mothers and newborn premature babies being evacuated from the hospital 100 yards from the Interior Ministrys spectacular blaze, a father on the street being interviewed saying it was "easy for Clinton to drop bombs on the children from the skybut we will see what kind of man he is when he comes to our soil" or the flames from a residential area hit in last nights bombing raids, are far more dramatic and horrifying than watching Albanian refugees who are riding trains to the border and walking across.
Pictures of bombs on civilian targets. So far this week, over 1000 people are reported to have died so far in the bombing raids. That is a far higher death toll than Christiane Amanpour has been able to muster up in her drive to sell the Albanian side to a jaded, suspicious American public.
The world is seeing the results of the bombs. The effort to portray the Serbs, as US News and World Report does in its April 12, 1999, issue on "Balkan Hell" as crazed killers is largely verbal so far.
Stories of "summary executions," US News and World Report noted, were hard to "prove" but are "quite credible given the Serbs vicious record. These stories are being challenged by those, such as Col. Felman, USAF Ret., who have had personal experiences with the Serbs.
We are in a whole new kind of warfare, folks, and it appears that Milosevic has pretty much won it. It already sounds like the Clinton administration is trying to figure out who it can blame for the debacle.
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COLONEL FONTENOT CAUSED NUMEROUS PROTESTS New York, Washington Colonel Gregory Fontenot, commander of the First brigade of the First US Armored Division, whose units are among the first to come to Bosnia in a considerable number, gave interview to "The Wall Street Journal". Speaking about "the parties in Bosnia", Fontenot said: "They think there that I believe them nothing - and that is right. They are the people who were killing children and women, attacking their neighbors. I to offend them? Hell, they offended me by the need to go to Bosnia because of their fighting". The article quotes Col . Fontenot, addressing two of his Afro-American soldiers, to say: "It'll be interesting to hear what all you'll see. Croats are racists. They kill people for their color". US Gen. Nash, one of the leading IFOR's officers, said he was "disappointed and very sad" when he read the Fontenont's statement. " I will investigate the details" Nash says. Sources in Washington claim that Nash sent Gen. Brig. Stanley Cherrie to the area where Fontenot is at the moment, to find out the details. The State Department high official told journalists: "Those are very serious statements, which cause great concern. If those words were properly reported, they are a wrong estimation, an extremely wrong estimation... The direction of his comment is completely wrong and unacceptable". President of Croatian Brother Community, gathering Croats in the USA, Bernard Luketich, sent a letter to the US President Bill Clinton, demanding Fontenot either excuse for his words, or be removed from the position, as he badly insulted Croats, including the US Croats. Also the National Federation of the Croats in America (NFCA) sent letters to president Clinton and editorial of "The Wall Street Journal", protesting due to claims on the racism of the Croats. A.S. TWRA, Dec 29, 1995
The Washington Times, "Pro-Nazi extremism lingers in Croatia", 15.06.1997
No, No, that is not true - CNN never reported about this - Am I right?
NBC, June 18, 1999
No, No, stop this please! This is not true!
BOSNIA Recently released secret documents reveal that in the first days of the war, Muslim paramilitary leaders murdered scores of Bosnian Serb civilians in Sarajevo.
"First days of the war" would be around April 1992 - how can one say that the Serbs reacting to these kind of actions by the Muslims - is based on simply WWII history. Muslims and Croats were acting afresh and clear and present danger, not that of the past, was the situation for Bosnian Serbs.
Sarajevo was advertised by the media as being multicultural, but liquidating the civilian Serbs of that city at the get go and at that pace already, is genocidal.
Of course it happened. But can you tell me what happened in detail?
Read this article from the Australian newspaper The Age about how western media lies about Srebrenica massgraves:
Veteran reporter Richard Carleton yesterday admitted he misled and lied to viewers of the 60 Minutes current affairs program by showing footage from another mass grave to illustrate a story about the Srebrenica massacre.
Mr Carleton and the 60 Minutes team are suing the ABC, former Media Watch presenter Paul Barry and then executive producer Peter McEvoy for defamation over two Media Watch segments in July 2000.
Mr Barry said a 60 Minutes story to mark the fifth anniversary of the massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica in Bosnia had used the same footage and interviewed the same people as an earlier BBC documentary.
'Perhaps it's plagiarism, certainly it's lazy journalism,' Mr Barry said.
Cross-examined by Terry Tobin, for the ABC, Mr Carleton conceded he had knowingly used footage of victims being exhumed from a mass grave far away from Srebrenica to illustrate the Channel Nine report.
Asked by Mr Tobin if he had misled viewers, Mr Carleton said: 'In the technical meaning of the word misleading, yes.'
Asked if had he lied, he said: 'If I take the word lie to mean misled, yes, I misled, in the technical sense and in the sense that meaning (is) lie, yes, I lied.'
Mr Carleton denied he had behaved unethically as a journalist and said the footage had enhanced viewers' understanding of the 1995 massacre.
The ACT Supreme Court also heard 60 Minutes had broadcast footage taken from the BBC documentary of a man showing how he was forced to lure his family to their deaths.
Mr Carleton said he was not aware the footage had been lifted until after the show went to air and the process of suing Media Watch had begun.
Producer Howard Sacre - also suing along with executive producer John Westacott - had told him: 'We have got a bit of a problem here.'
'I f----- up,' Mr Carleton quoted Mr Sacre as saying.
He said Nine's tape with the same footage had gone missing.
But documents tendered to the court showed Mr Carleton sent a fax to the Bosnian man employed as 60 Minutes' local liaison in May, 2000 - a month before the 60 Minutes team went to Bosnia - with a list of 17 shots from the BBC program he wanted him to obtain.
Mr Carleton told him he should not pay too much for the lure footage because under Australian copyright law, 60 Minutes could show a small amount of footage recorded off-air from the BBC program.
The hearing is continuing."
NO it isn't, this would be a cerical-fascist or a fundamentalist islamist crime. Read Tudjman's statement mentioned in the Jerulasem Post or the quotes of Alija Izetbegovic's book 'Islamska declaracija" again.
2) Is it acceptable to kill innocent men, women and children based on what their countrymen did to your countrymen decades ago?
NEVER! Serbs can forgive.
3) If you answer to #1 and/or # 2 is "yes," would Jesus agree with you?
I answered both with no.
CobaltBlue never accused "the most barbaric atrocities of the war" (that says the Canadian paper The Ottawa Citizen! Look here (<- click)) comitted by Nasir Oric's Muslim Islamist Mudshahedin fighters on over 1,000 Serbian Civilians!
2) Is it acceptable to kill innocent men, women and children based on what their countrymen did to your countrymen decades ago?
It was not about what these countrymen were doing decades ago, but what they were doing at the begining of the 1990's. The unconstitutional declaration of independence in Croatia and Bosnia, against the will of the Serbian people in these Republics. Degrading the Serbian nation from the status of a constituent nation to a marginal minority. Finally establishing artificial borders between Serbs and Serbs (just think of the Drina) und thus carving up the coherent areas with majority serb population in the former Yugoslvia. In regard to everything mentioned above, the memories of WWII and the genocide experienced by the Serbs did play a significant role in shapping their political and military attitude towards their enemies in the 1990's. And don't forget the 500 years of ottoman occupation and muslim oppression. Never again.
Look how the Bosnian Muslim SS Hanshar Nazis burned Serbian villages and slaughtered Serbian civilians like 1992 in Srebrenica:
"Hajj Amin made an especially important contribution to the German war effort in Yugoslovia where the Bosnian Muslim SS units he recruited (in particular the Handzar Division) brutally suppressed local Nazi resistance movements. The Mufti's pamphlet entitled, `Islam and the Jews´, was published by the Nazis in Croatian and German for distribution during the war to these Bosnian Muslim SS units. This hateful propaganda served to incite the slaughter of Jews, and (Serb) Christians as well. Indeed, the Bosnian Muslim Handzar SS Division was responsible for the destruction of whole Bosnian Jewish and Serbian communities, including the massacre of Jews and Serbs, and the deportation of survivors to Auschwitz for extermination."
"To show gratitude towards his hosts, in 1943 the Mufti travelled several times to Bosnia, where on orders of the SS he recruited the notorious `Hanjar troopers,´ a special Bosnian Waffen SS company which slaugh-tered 90% of Bosnia's Jews and burned countless Serbian churches and villages. These Bosnian Muslim recruits rapidly found favor with SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who established a special Mullah Military school in Dresden."
"Those of us who know the real circumstances in Serbia are enraged at the unfair attacks on the Cetniks and their leaders. If only someone could open the poor blind eyes of the spoiled American public, a wonderful group of people might recieve their due recognition. Unfortunately, those of us who lived with these people are few and far between, but believe you me, never will we forget how the men and women of Serbia unquestioningly risked their very lives for us, clothed us, and gave us shelter when they themselves were ill-clad, cold and hungry...I vowed to myself that if I could ever possibly begin to repay these people for all they had done for me, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. Unfortunately, what little I might be able to do would not even pay the interest on my debt to the Serbian people. I suffer with them in their present plight, and in the injustice rendered to them by the American press as well as the American and British governments."
Tipp man uses peace talks as occasion to remember Serb saviors from World War II
By Mary McCarty
Dayton Daily News
"Curtis 'Bud' Diles has a Lincoln Town Car with 'Purple Heart' vanity plates.
He has a loving 47-year marriage and a comfortable, healthy retirement. He has four children and 12 grandchildren he can barely talk about without busting up with pride.
He has, in short, a full life. The one thing that has eluded him - and consumed him these 51 years - is the chance to repay the Serb Chetnik soldiers and villagers who saved his life after his bomber was shot down over Yugoslavia in 1944.
'When you owe your very life to a group of people, you don't forget,' Diles said of his 50-year quest.
Now, with the peace talks taking place in Dayton, the 70-year-old Huber Heights man hopes the Serb people can attain the same peace and prosperity they enabled him to enjoy. And he hopes to unload some of his burden of gratitude.
'For 50 years I've wrestled with an old Underwood, wadding up reams of paper trying to write my story,' Diles said. 'When I heard the peace talks were coming to Dayton, I thought, maybe now I'll get the chance to tell my story.'
Diles was one of more than 500 U.S. airmen who owe their lives to Gen. Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian Chetnik Resistance Army. 'Operation Halyard,' as it was called, was the largest rescue in history of U.S. airmen from behind enemy lines. Over a six-month period, U.S. intelligence worked with Mihailovich to rescue the fliers shot down in the Serbian mountains.
The Chetnik leader was executed by Yugoslav dictator Josip Tito in 1946. The survivors of his rescue mission, however, have worked tirelessly to preserve his memory. A Tucson-based organization, the National Committee of American Airmen Rescued by General Mihailovich Inc., has been fighting for decades to erect a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
This week, the group mailed a letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, thanking him for his people's sacrifice during World War II and offering 'heartfelt prayers' for the peace process.
'Many Serbs were killed in saving American airmen,' said the organization's president, Maj. Richard Felman of Tucson. 'Now that they're in trouble, we'd like to do what we can.'
For 18 minutes on Sept. 8, 1944, however, Diles thought he wouldn't make it to see 20.
It was the young airman's 17th mission in three weeks from his base south of Rome. This one was supposed to be a 'milk run;' the men were told by intelligence to expect no anti-aircraft fire. 'We thought we'd drop our bombs and be back in time for supper,' Diles recalled.
Diles was the nosegunner on a brand-new B-24 bomber that had just bombed its target, a bridge over the Danube River in Belgrade. Suddenly, anti-aircraft fire burst with a force that shook the entire airplane.
'The bombardier was behind me, and he caught a piece of flak through the nose. All I could see was blood. I put his hand on his rip cord and shoved him in through the nose hatch. I didn't even know if he was conscious. I went right behind him.'
As he parachuted 18,000 feet to the ground, swinging wildly in the wind, Diles pondered the Danube below him - and pondered the different ways he would die.
'When death is a certainty, you don't panic. Even though I was oscillating back and forth, it felt absolutely still. I wondered: Would the Nazis shoot me down? Would our own plane's propellers chew us up into hamburger? Would the Serbs or Croatians capture me? We had been told the Serbs would cut our ears off and give them to the Nazis.'
Diles landed in a cornfield with a force that nearly knocked him out. Almost immediately, he was surrounded by Serb villagers and soldiers who whisked him away from the German Stuka dive bombers buzzing the treetops, looking for the plane's crew.
For nine days, his Serb protectors moved Diles and 23 fellow airmen - including six from his nine-man crew - from farmhouse to farmhouse. A Life magazine photographer snapped them sleeping in a hayloft.
To avoid German patrols, they traveled on horse-drawn carts away from highways and main roads.
'There was plenty of dance and food and song, and each of them treated us like royalty,' Diles recalls.
The prospect of death was never far away.
'Our closest call came when a German convoy got past the guards and approached our horse-drawn cart. I heard the Chetnik guard say fini in French, and I thought that meant we were finished. I saw a German tank with a machine gun mounted in front of the cab, pointed right at us, and I expected them to start firing.'
But the Germans, who were evacuating Greece, moved on, and 'we all ran into the hills like scared rabbits.'
Twice the Chetniks found an airfield and radioed for a rescue, and twice they were nearly overtaken by German troops. Finally, on Sept. 17, two C-47 cargo planes landed in a tiny field north of the town of Valjevo. In takeoff, one plane hit a haystack; another dragged tree limbs. 'It was touch-and-go,' Diles recalled. 'We could hear the machine-gun fire in the background of Serbs fighting off Tito's Partisans, who were trying to keep us from getting off the ground.'
The men cheered as they crossed the Adriatic Sea, figuring they were 'home free.'
Diles flew 17 more missions before returning to a career as a machine operator in his hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. He met his wife, Inez, there. Twenty years ago Diles joined the Techmet Co. in Tipp City (now LaserMike Inc.), a laser-scanning manufacturing corporation co-founded by his brother Paul.
Over the years, Diles has been pained by the American abandonment of Mihailovich - whom he describes as a 'Lincolnesque figure' - as well as the failure to honor his memory.
Diles has tried to do his bit. His correspondence about Mihailovich and letters to Serb people crowd six feet of shelf space in his study.
'There were 8,000 soldiers assigned to protect Allied servicemen. I believe the Serbians thought the Americans would come to their rescue when they found out what they'd done. Well, Americans never did find out. Now it has no meaning; it's ancient history.
'When I heard about the peace talks, I thought, 'Here's a chance for me to get my opinion to someone who will hear me and listen.'
'After all, I wouldn't be here without the Serbs or Mihailovich. And not only am I here, but my four children and 12 grandchildren.'"
In a letter, American President Richard Nixon said about Serbian General Draza:
"General Draza Mihailovich was a patriot, a brave soldier and a gallant ally of the United States and every nation that went to war in the early forties to destroy the tyrannies that sought to enslave our world.
Hundreds of American pilots owe their lives to General Mihailovich and his forces and, the American people will never forget that debt.
As long as there are patriots in any nation, the name of General Mihailovich will be remembered and revered."
In telling about Serbian General Draza Mihailovic, Ronald Reagan said:
"... I believe that the spirit in which you have gathered here to honor the memory of General Mihailovich, the faithful allied commander and the first anti-Nazis leader in Europe, is shared by the great majority of Americans.
The ultimate tragedy of Draza Mihailovic cannot erase the memory of his heroic and often lonely struggle against the twin tyrannies that afflicted his people, Nazism and Communism. He knew that totalitarianism, whatever name it might take, is the death of freedom. He thus became a symbol of resistance to all those across the world who have had to fight a similar heroic and lonely struggle against totalitarianism. Mihailovich belonged to Yugoslavia; his spirit now belongs to all those who are willing to fight for freedom.
I wish that it could be said that this great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of western governments in dealing with Communism. The fact is that others have suffered a fate similar to his by being embraced and then abandoned by western governments in the hope that such abandonment will purchase peace or security.
Thus, the fate of General Mihailovich is not simply of historic significance--it teaches us something today, as well. No western nation, including the United States, can hope to win its own battle for freedom and survival by sacrificing brave comrades to the politics of international expediency.
...it has been demonstrated beyond doubt that both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to false hopes of appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends."
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