George Vujnovich

George Mane Vujnovich was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Serbian immigrants. Not much is known about his child’s and young adulthood. However, it is known that he attended the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia, where he met his wife.

In 1941, George witnessed the bombing of Belgrade by Nazi Germany. This event prompted him and his wife to flee to Budapest, hungry. From there, they continue their journey to Turkey, Jerusalem, and finally, Cairo. Not long after they arrived in Cairo, the Nazis began their invasion.

While in Cairo, George Vujnovich was able to find a job with Pan American Airways. The company helped him and his wife relocate to Ghana, where they were able to live on a United States-controlled air base. While there, the United States officially entered World War II, and the commercial airline company was militarized. Vujnovich was commissioned into the United States Army and transferred to a base in Nigeria, where he was made a base commander. Eventually, he was sent to Italy, where he was stationed in Bari.

In 1944, United States bombers went on a bombing run to Target Nazi oil fields in Romania. Many were shot down over Yugoslavia. However, Vujnovich came up with a plan to get them out. He hatched an idea to build a secret airfield and trained Serbian-speaking agents to conduct the operation. He taught them how to blend in through small details, such as teaching them, how Serbians tie their shoes. His agents parachuted in and led the operation to its success. They were able to save over five hundred airmen.

After the war, Vujnovich and his wife moved to New York City. There, they had a child together, and he became an aircraft parts dealer. He received a bronze star for his duties during World War II in 2010.

George Mane Vujnovich passed away at the age of ninety-six in 2012.[1][2]

[1] Richard Goldstein, “George Vujnovich Is Dead at 96; Led War Rescue,” The New York Times, April 29, 2012.
[2] “George Vujnovich: OSS Agent Whose Operation Halyard Saved Allied,” The Independent., June 30, 2012.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *