Operation Halyard 75th anniversary Reception

  • I would like to take a moment to welcome you all and to thank you for joining us to raise awareness of this year’s 75th anniversary of Operation Halyard, the largest rescue of downed Allied Airmen during WWII.
  • Over 500 American, British, Canadian, French, Italian, Polish, and Russian airmen were rescued from behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied Serbia due to the joint efforts of the local population and American forces.  Most were rescued from Pranjani, a small town whose residents harbored the airmen and built an improvised runway at great personal sacrifice and risk.
  • There are a number of Halyard photos on display: scenes depicting Allied airmen being sheltered by Serbians, giving back to the local community through medical assistance, socializing and even sharing a rakija together, and ultimately being rescued.  Please take a little time to view these images and get a better sense for what Operation Halyard was all about.
  • More importantly, with us today we have a number of residents from Pranjani whose families housed, fed, and protected the Allied airmen 75 years ago; I hope you find an opportunity to meet them and listen to their fascinating stories of heroism and sacrifice.
  • The Embassy and the Halyard Mission Foundation have been organizing an annual commemoration of Operation Halyard in Pranjani for the past 15 years; this year being the 75th anniversary, we invite you all to join us and help make it a truly special commemoration.
  • I would like to turn it over now to John Cappello, founder and president of the Halyard Mission Foundation.  John and his team have spent many years and countless hours doing the very important work of researching and raising awareness of Operation Halyard, especially the key role Serbs played in the success of the mission.
  • Before I do, let me thank you again for joining us tonight to highlight this excellent example of the kind of cooperation that has occurred throughout our shared history, and should stand as a model of our future relationship.  I hope to see you in  Pranjani on September 15!