Brief history of the Yugoslav Detachment

Joe Milloy submitted the following history:

Brief account of the Yugoslav Detachment Personnel from 15th October, 1942, to the end of the Detachment on the 24th August, 1945

Of the forty Yugoslav fliers sent to the USA in October of 1942, only thirty five completed the prescribed training to be used as crew members. The missing five dropped out for various reasons: two failed the training, two declined further participation (both NCOs, pilots and Croations). One was excused for the seniority reason (a pilot who was not selected as such). They were replaced by four Yugoslav flyers already qualified B-24 pilots. They have come to the USA earlier for other purposes. The fifth man was replaced by Lt. Ognen Lakich, who became a gunner. He came to the USA in 1941 on his own.

Of the forty Yugo flyers who came to USA, about 65% were pilots with various trainings, experiences and the flying time. Everybody wanted to be a pilot and in the end the rank and experience prevailed. The rest, for the sake of unity and purpose, grudgingly accepted assigned training, supposedly, only temporally - so they were told.

The following were assigned as such:

Pilot training, Smyrna AAF Field, Tenn.

Capt. Milojevich, Dushan

Capt. Radosavlevich, Branislav (Commercial Pilot)

Capt. Skakic, Vojislav             "

Lt. Milojkovich, Zivko

Lt. Milovanovich, Sava             (Commercial Pilot)

W/O Korosha, Ivan

Navigation School, Hondo, Texas:

Capt. Sabadosh, Kiril Capt. Leckich, Kosta Lt. Pavlovich, Slobodan Lt. Radovich, Vladislav

Bombardier School, St. Marcos, Texas:

Capt. Vecherina, Dinko

Lt. Stefanovich, Borislav Ltt. Markovich, Momcilo WIO Crvenkovich, Obrad

The remaining twenty three flyers were sent to Tucson, AZ for training as flight engineers, radio operators and the aerial gunners.

Upon completion of training in June, 1943, the entire personnel was assembled at Salinas AAF Base, CA, and divided into four crews. These assignments were based primarily on the needs of the unit and to some degree, by personal preferences - "comradship". This set-up remained the same through the entire "phase" of combat training, including the flight to North Africa and several combat missions. The above is reflected in the Order "O. No 14850", dated November 5, 1943, signed by the Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Supreme Command. This was, in fact, the act that established the "Yugoslav Detachment".

In the middle of December ,1943, in order to achieve a better equilibrium of the pilot personnel a change was made. Maj. D. Milojevich left his crew of the aircraft #20 and took over as a pilot of the crew #21. Capt. B. Radosavljevich moved from the co-pilot to pilot position. Captain Mucich became co-pilot of the crew #21. Capt. Vulich remained co-pilot on #20. Further composition of the crew remained relatively the same, except for a few minor plays of the musical chairs - as the situation required. In some instances when the Yugoslav personnel were unavailable due to illness or the like, they were replaced by the USAAF personnel. The war must go on!

In the spring of 1944, after the loss of two aircraft and crews - #22 shot down on November 24, 1943, over Sofia, Bulgaria, #21 shot dawn on December 19, 1943, over Ausburg, Austria, some crew members got cold feet and left the Detachment:

Gunners: Lt. Pajich, Nedeljko; Lt. Marinovich, Milosh; Sgt, Peshich, Jovan. left to join the Yugoslav Partisans. They were members of the crews #22, #20, and #23, respectively.

Bombardier Lt. Markovich, Momcilo, crew #23 left for Egypt to join recently acquired in-laws saying that he does not need American medals.

During the summer of 1944 some other members quit and disappeared:

Gunner Sgt Kolega, Stefan, crew #23 - just disappeared.

Gunner Sgt Poje, Dragutin, crew #20, had some dispute with his pilot. He left and eventually found his way to the USA in order to join his wife whom he had married while on training in Tucson, Az.

Navigator Capt. (Major at that time) Sabadosh, Kiril, crew #20 bailed out over Austria (?).

On May 24, 1944, the flight engineer of the crew #23 was killed in the air over Wienner-Neustadt, Austria. His name was W/O Madjarevich, Bogdan. On the same mission, aircraft #23 was badly damaged and made it to the friendly base with a great difficulty. At the same time, a gunner Lt. Jovanovich, Bogdan was seriously wounded and required a longer hospitalization.

In this crisis of personnel Capt. Skakic, with a permission of the USA military authorities, went to Egypt to recruit volunteers. As a replacement for his killed flight engineer he brought back W/O Radich, Dejan. For gunners he recruited:

For the crew #23: T/Sgt Starc, Victor; Sgt Arzenshek; Sgt Miklush, F.

For the crew #20: T/Sgt Babek, Milutin and Sgt. Trampus, Emil.

These men were all of the Slovine origin ( from Istria and Trieste) and the former members of the Italian Armed Forces, held as POWs by the British. Sgts Babec and Trampus were killed on August 24, 1944 with the crew #20. Sgts Arzenshek and Miclush left the Yugo Detachment and went home to Trieste area.

Sgt. Starc, Victor remained with the crew #23 to complete its 51 mission. He came to the USA with the rest of us as a SISgt USAAF.

In the late September of 1944, the crew of #22 returned from the POW camp and rejoined the unit. In November, 1944, four members of the crew #22 left the Detachment and went to join the Yugoslav partisans:

Bomb. Capt. Vecherina, Dinko Gunner Lt. Korosha, Ivan Radio op. Sgt Halapa Ivan

Flt. eng. Sgt. Timotijevich, Miodrag

In the spring of 1945, the crew of #23 completed its combat flying but continued flying so called "weather missions". At this time the Detachment consisted of fourteen members of crews #22 & #23 combined:

Capts: Stanisavljevich and Skakich;

Lts: Jelich, Milojkovich, Milovanovich, Radovich, Jovanovich, Lackich, Trailov, Stojkovich, and Vidanovich W/O Raddich; Sgts Starc and Benderach

In June, 1945, the remaining members of the Yugo Detachment took the physical for the transfer into the USAAF. Sgt. Vasa Benderach did not pass. It was found that he had developed TB and was air-evacuated to the USA. He died in 1947 at the Fitzsimmons Hospital in Colorado. The remaining thirteen were inducted into the USAAF on August 24, 1945. Thus ended the "Yugoslav Detachment" with 376th Bombardment Group, US 15th Air Force in Africa and Italy.


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Three Crawford Brothers

Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior

376th Bomb Group Mission History

The Last Liberator

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Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War

I Survived Ploesti

A Measure of Life

Shot Down In Yugoslavia

Stories of My Life


Born in Battle