NEW YORK – The U.S. government has recognized the World War II architect of a mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia.
It was the largest air rescue of Americans behind enemy lines in any war.
George Vujnovich (VOOY'-noh-veech) is credited with leading the so-called Halyard Mission in what was then Yugoslavia.
The 95-year-old New York City man was awarded the Bronze Star in a ceremony Sunday at Manhattan's St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. He received a standing ovation from a crowd of several hundred.
He's long retired from his job as a salesman of aircraft parts.
Vujnovich says of the honor, "better now than never" — but he regrets most of the men on his wartime mission are no longer alive.