New York City The U.S. government has recognized the World War II architect of a mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber fliers shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia — the largest air rescue of Americans behind enemy lines in any war.
George Vujnovich, a 95-year-old New Yorker, is credited with leading the so-called Halyard Mission in what was then Yugoslavia.
On Sunday, he was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star Medal, presented by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., at Manhattan’s St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. Vujnovich received a standing ovation from a crowd of several hundred church members, supporters, friends and officials.
“Better now than never,” says Vujnovich, a retired salesman who lives in Queens.