Never heard of it?
Few have, despite the release last year of "The Forgotten 500," the first book about the daring mission to rescue 500 downed airmen in occupied Yugoslavia.
Mr. Vujnovich, a Pittsburgh boy who became head of the Office of Strategic Services in Bari, Italy, organized what has been called the greatest air rescue of the war.
In the summer of 1944, U.S. bombers targeted the Romanian oil fields in Ploesti that supplied the German war machine. They flew from Italy and across Yugoslavia to get there.
But Luftwaffe fighters and flak from anti-aircraft guns took a fearsome toll, and many shot-up planes never made it back.
Some 1,500 crewmen had to bail out over Serbia, trapped behind enemy lines and dependent on villagers to hide them from the Germans.
Mr. Vujnovich's team of agents, including a former Pittsburgh Steeler from Johnstown and a crack radioman from Toledo, Ohio, worked with Yugoslav guerilla leader Gen. Draza Mihailovich to airlift 512 men from a makeshift runway carved on a mountaintop.
"We didn't lose a single man," Mr. Vujnovich said last week from his home in Jackson Heights, N.Y. "It's an interesting history. Even in Serbia they don't know much about it."
Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 16 January 2009 - 04:24 AM.