66 Years Later, a Bronze Star for an O.S.S. operative





For more than 50 years, George Vujnovich was a mild-mannered salesman working away at his small business in Queens and living a quiet life on a quiet block in Jackson Heights. He never spoke, even to his closest friends, about his secret role organizing one of the greatest rescue missions of World War II.

“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....



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