OSS man receives Bronze Star at age 95

How’d you like this–an OSS man receives a medal for his work during WWII:

“There was a strict rule in the O.S.S. and not talk about these things — they teach you to compartmentalize them and lock them away,” Mr. Vujnovich said.

The O.S.S. was the Office of Strategic Services — a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. And what Mr. Vujnovich kept locked away all these years was his key role as the operations officer for Operation Halyard, a daring rescue of more than 500 Allied forces airmen during World War II in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia.

Mr. Vujnovich’s efforts went unrecognized because the operation was kept secret by the United States military until a few years ago. But now, 66 years after that summer of 1944, he will receive the Bronze Star for his service, in a ceremony on Sunday afternoon at the Cathedral of St. Sava, a Serbian Orthodox church on West 26th Street in Manhattan.

“Better now than never,” Mr. Vujnovich, 95, said on Wednesday at his home on 87th Street in Jackson Heights. He adjusted himself on the couch and with a still-clear mind and a sharp memory, he recounted how he trained agents to infiltrate the Nazi-occupied region and organize an airlift of 512 downed airmen, from a hastily cleared runway on a mountaintop.




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