The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

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During a bombing campaign over Romanian oil fields, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian farmers and peasants risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers while they waited for rescue, and in 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip large enough for C-47 cargo planes-without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the cargo planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back without getting shot down themselves.

Suppressed for more than half a century for political reasons, the full account of this unforgettable story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery is now being told for the first time ever. The Forgotten 500 is the gripping behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400105229
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 10/28/2007
Edition description: Unabridged CD
Sales rank: 323,666
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Gregory A. Freeman is the author of "Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves." An award-winning journalist with twenty years' experience, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents

Introduction     xi
We'll Get Them Out     1
Abandon Ship!     10
Counting Parachutes     26
Americanski?     37
Long Journey to Somewhere     59
Escaping Yugoslavia     79
Passports, Please     99
Man of the Year     113
Abandoned Ally     129
Screw the British     147
Goats' Milk and Hay Bread     168
An All-American Team     183
SOS ... Waiting for Rescue     189
Sure to Be a Rough Landing     199
Red. Red. Red.     213
Going Home Shoeless     225
Gales of the World     240
Secrets and Lies     267
Epilogue     274
Partial List of Airmen Rescued in Operation Halyard     281
Acknowledgments     285
Notes     287
Bibliography     301
Index     307
Contact the Author     309

What People are Saying About This

Gregg Olsen

A literary and journalistic achievement of the highest order, a book that illuminates [and] thrills... It will take your breath away. (Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep Dark)

James Bradley

Riveting. (James Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers)

From the Publisher

"A master storyteller" —-Doug Stanton, bestselling author of In Harm's Way

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The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I do not typically read books about war and anything historical. I picked this book up because I had heard that one of the men written about in the book was from my hometown. I could not put this book down once I started it. For someone who doesn't have extensive knowledge of World War II, this book was written in such a way that was easy to understand and left you wanting to know more about this time in our history. For those who like to read about World War II, this is a story that hasn't really been told before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Author Gregory Freeman, in 'The Forgotten 500', doesn¿t just capture the events of `Operation Halyard¿, he is able to capture the essence of General Mihailovich as well. He describes the impression that Mihailovich left on the Americans, such as on OSS radioman Arthur Jibilian: 'Like every other American who met Mihailovich personally, however, Jubilian was taken by the way a man of such simplicity could at the same time give such an impression of grandeur. Jibilian and the other Allied soldiers were most impressed by Mihailovich¿s sense of dignity in the face of extreme hardship and insurmountable odds and the humble way he received accolades from his followers, consistently coming away with the same unshakable impression that they were standing in the presence of greatness.' The drama of `Operation Halyard¿ would end in December of 1944, and due to the perseverance of men with the names of Vujnovich, Musulin, Petrovich, Rajachich, Lalich, Jibilian and others, it would end as a virtually perfect success story in the face of almost insurmountable odds. Every downed airman survived. General Mihailovich, however, would not share their fate. His life would come to an end a year and half later, when he was executed by the Yugoslav communists. The airmen whom he had saved were left to their tears, devastated by the news, and many would dedicate the rest of their years to vindicating Mihailovich, his Serbian people, and to seeking justice for the man to whom they felt they owed their very lives. Many in the Allied world who were following the capture, trial, and execution of Mihailovich, were left to wonder ¿how it could have been allowed to happen.¿ Gregory Freeman¿s The Forgotten 500 goes a long way in shedding light on ¿how could this have been allowed to happen.¿ Freeman does not accept the fact that ¿it was allowed to happen.¿ With the publication of 'The Forgotten 500' he is doing his part to make things right. Given the truths contained in this book, I wondered who Gregory Freeman was. He accommodated my curiosity with the following response: 'As you probably know already, I am not of Serbian descent and have no personal connection to this story at all. Instead, I was drawn to the opportunity to bring some measure of justice to a hero and local Serbs who risked their lives for my country and who ultimately were betrayed by history. I wrote this book because that wrong should be made right, not just for Mihailovich and the Serbian community, but for the American public as well. After all, we can't say 'thank you' if we don't know what they did.' I highly recommend 'The Forgotten 500', not just to my American and Serbian friends, but to anyone interested in historical accounts that are not tarnished with propaganda, lies, and political correctness. I also recommend this book to anyone who is inspired by a great story about great people who did great things. Those of us who know the ¿Halyard¿ story and its significance will smile with satisfaction. We should, indeed, be pleased. It¿s about time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just finished a great book called ¿The Forgotten 500¿ by Gregory Freeman. It recounts a risky rescue mission launched during WWII to save over 500 American and Allied flyers who had bailed out over Yugoslavia. The airmen were saved by the local Serbia people. The Serbs saved them from the Nazis at great personal risk. And fed from their meager rations. Many Serbs died for harboring US airmen. The leader of the Serbs was an anti Nazi guerilla Draza Mihailovich. With the help of Mihailovich¿s fighters a high mountain plateau is turned into a small landing field. The OSS in spite of British opposition mounts a rescue mission that involves landing C-47s on the short runway. The runway was prepared by the local peasants and downed airmen using rudimentary farm tools. The airstrip was only 12 miles from Nazi encampments. It is an exciting and tense drama. The book also recounts how the US and it¿s allies turned their back on Mihailovich. Primarily because of the disinformation provided by communists and their sympathizers in both US and British ranks. He points out ¿Far more numerous than the Communists, and infinitely more numerous that the committed agents, were the muddleheaded liberals who shares a nebulous feeling that they too were serving the cause of progress. This book is a must read for anyone interested in WWII missions or how the US lost the Eastern block to Stalin.
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