On July 4th, local Toledo news channel WTOL aired a five-minute interview with four of the Halyard Mission airmen and rescuers. This was a breakthrough broadcast by Toledo reporter Jennifer Boresz, viewable here, as the Serbs are mentioned in the context of the debt we owe them, the selflessness of the poorest peasants among them, and the veil of silence surrounding the mission even after the men were home safe. The betrayal by the Allies of General Draza Mihailovich is also mentioned, as well as the communists who penetrated Churchill’s government to convince him to favor Tito’s communist Partisans over the Serbian general by branding him a traitor and Nazi collaborator — a canard that, laughably, is repeated to this day. Here is an excerpt from the video’s accompanying text, but it’s all in the video:

…”Those people had it pretty dog gone rough, and didn’t have much to give. But they gave,” Carl Walpusk of Moon Twp., Pennsylvania says.

Those Serbians kept the U.S. airmen safe for weeks until the U.S. government got word of the 50 downed soldiers in Yugoslavia. The United States sent in OSS agents on a daring rescue mission known as Operation Halyard.

Fremont’s Jibby was one of those men who risked his life. “They asked if I would go as a radioman,” he explains, “There wasn’t even a heartbeat, and I said certainly.”

When he got there, he found not 50 airmen but 250. And the number was growing. “We stayed. What started to be a ten-day mission… we were there for almost six months and brought 500 airmen in.”

One-by-one C47s landed on a makeshift runway that the Americans and Serbs built by hand.

But when [the airmen] returned to America, the government said they couldn’t share their incredible story. “We weren’t supposed to tell them how we got out. I think they wanted to keep that a secret,” Walpusk says.

These veterans feel the U.S. didn’t give General Mihailovich credit for helping them. By the time the rescue happened, the U.S. and Britain had abandoned Mihailovich as an ally. They say false information was given that he was a traitor and collaborating with the Germans. The U.S. and Britain began siding with communist leader General Josip Tito instead.

Jibby explains, “I don’t know why the state department will not admit they made a mistake, that they abandoned Mihailovich. He was voted Man of the Year in 1941 in Time Magazine and hailed as a hero. Then they turned around and called him a collaborator simply to justify favoring Tito.”

When the war ended they say Tito put Mihailovich on trial, quickly found him guilty and executed him by firing squad.

The hundreds of rescued airmen were devastated that they couldn’t testify at the trial.

“The only thing we ever wanted was to acknowledge that he did help us,” Jibby says, “That the Serbian peopled helped us. That he was not a traitor. That we made a mistake in backing Tito. We backed the wrong man.”

An shorter video on the web page shows a two-minute, one-on-one interview with rescued airman Carl Walpusk. (”The Serbs’ Contribution to the Airmen”) In it, Walpusk says the following:

[Mihailovich] was asking us basically to go back and try to get the government to support him…I still believe we sold them down the drain, the Chetniks. When I say ‘we’ I’m talking about the Allies. I think we were led by the British, and they supposedly had communists [among] their foreign relations people. Like I said, we sold them down then, and I think we’re selling them wrong in Kosovo.