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The return of the winner - Rudolf Perešin's MiG-21 displayed

Foto: MORH / J. Kopi
Foto: MORH / J. Kopi

A ceremony "The victor's return" marking the return of the MiG 21 aircraft flown by the legendary Croatian pilot Rudolf Perešin, a hero of the Homeland War and the 24th anniversary of his death and the 22nd commemorative meetings in his honour was held in front of the Ministry of Defence in Zagreb on 12 May 2019.

Through the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and excellent bilateral relations with Austria the MiG21 aircraft bearing the mark "26 112" flown by Rudolf Perešin in October 1991 over to Austria was delivered to Croatia in lasting commemoration of one of the most glorious feats from the Homeland War.

The ceremony was attended by Perešin's family, by the Envoy of the President of the Republic Zrinko Petener, by the Envoy of the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Major General (Ret.) Miljenko Filipović, by the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, by the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces General Mirko Šundov, by the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, by the Minister of Homeland War Veterans Tomo Medved,, by the Minister of Health Milan Kujundžić, by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ante Gotovina, by the former defence ministers and chiefs of the General Staff and by the members of the Croatian Armed Forces and Croatian defenders and other visitors.

The Envoy of the President of the Republic Zrinko Petener expressed appreciation to Rudolf Perešin's family for their sacrifice and stated that his feats proved their full support.

 


Major General (Ret. ) Miljenko Filipović expressed gratitude to the Croatian defenders on behalf of the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament and underlined Rudolf Perešin's valour and determination.

"Hero Perešin made a great feat for the homeland altough he brought into peril himself and his family . He left a historic mark in the Croatian Army and in the Air Force with his overflight of 25 October 1991, inflicting a grave political and moral defeat on the aggressor army, and boosted the faith, hope and morale of the Croatian people during the hardest days of the struggle for freedom", said Maj.Gen. Filipović.

The Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said the return came as a result of the silent yet resolute Government's plan to effectuate the delivery of the legendary MiG 21 – a symbol of the Homeland War - delivered to Croatia.

"Military and defence diplomats have worked systematically and at all levels for the past two years to have Rudolf Perešin's MiG 21 delivered to Croatia. His message to the Croatian people and to the world public was a message of freedom, courage , strength, audacity and patriotism, and is with us again.today, and it is our mission to strengthen the Croatian Armed Forces and police, cherising the memory of the victims of the Homeland War and to provide dignified life to the Croatian defenders, teaching the young generations on the values of the Homeland War. The return of the MiG-21 i a great recognition to all Croatian defenders and their families", said the Prime Minister, who expressed appreciation to the Defence Minister and Foreign and European Affairs Minister for the contribution.

 

 

Minister Krstičević: Hero Perešin's MiG returns to Croatia, its home

The Defence Minister Damir Krstičević reminded of the Rudolf Perešin's last flying mission, during the Operation "LIghtning" and said the aircraft was a memory of the courage and defiance of the Croatian defenders", who saw hope in it during the war hardship.

"This MIG is the historic evidence of the early days of the Croatian Air Force and of the Croatian military.it is a symbol of the struggle of the Croatian people for independence and its return to Croatia is therefore of immense value for Croaita.

It is above all a memory of the man who dared to say he was Croatian and cound not and refused to shoot his people, a true hero who gave us all strength; the aircraft belongs in our heritage and a victorious tradition. is and is now wiith us where it belongs". The Minister said he hoped the military museum would be constructed by 2025, with Perešin's MiG displaayed in the central spot.

 

 
General Šundov stressed that Rudolf Perešin's act instilled courage in all defenders and patriots to persevere through the righteous struggle for independence and freedom, and signalled the position of Croats in the JNA and its role in the aggression on the Republic of Croatia

"This is the day Rudolf Perišin was dreaming of.. The man who eft a lasting mark in our history and became a symbol of patriotism, courage and devotion", General Šundov also recalled his delight on seeing the aircraft with Croatian marks take off on mission.

The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić said there was never doubt that the aircraft would return to Croatia.

"The process took a long time, but it ws beyond doubt that the aircraft belonged to Croatia and should therefore be returned. We are all overwhelmed and I am extending appreciation all the members of the team who has for the past two and half years taken part in the process". Said Minister Pejčinović Burić.

Speaking of the legendary Croatian pilot as his daughter Daliborka Perešin-Kekelić recalled his words to her: "My father had always told me to be proud and dignified, but today I am excited, It took a ,lot of persistence, wish, strong will and silent diplomacy lo to achieve all this. I am therefore expressing sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Croatia and to all who gave their part to have this aircraft – the simbol of the ressistance – in Croatia.

The daughter of the hero of the Homeland War also said: "Despite the incertainties, hopes and deep sadness suffered by my family for more two years, I will never leave my homeland because I love it and believe in it".

 

Perešin's fellow combatants unveil his MiG

The pilots of the 1st Fighter Squadron and of the Fighter Aircraft Squadron - the fellow combatants Colonel (Ret.) Ivan Selak, Colonel (Ret.) Darko Cigrovski, Lt. Col .(Ret.) Ivica Ivandić, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Danijel Borović and Colonel Željko Ninić, Lt. Col. Christian Jagodić (the Commander of the Fighter Aircraft Squadron) and the young cadet pilots - Josip Jelača and Lovre Krnić (23rd and 24th generations of military pilots) unveiled Rudolf Perešin's MiG 21 aircraft.  

Actor Pere Eranović, himself a son of a fallen Croatian defender recited a drama piece and e re inded of Staff Brigadier Perešin's statement for the press following his flight to Austria:"I only did what I think is the duty of each citizen of Croatia; everybody who calls Croatia his homeland has to contributte to the struggle for freedom. The true heroes are in fighting Vukovar and elsewhere, but may forever remain unknown" .

 



Ljerka Pereši Staff Brigadier Rudolf Perešin's widow unveiled the billboard next to the MiG, and his pilot overalls – borrowed from the Croatian History Museum has been exposed in the lobby of the Ministry of Defence.

The ceremony featured with the performance by the Croatian Navy's Vocal Ensemble "Sveti Juraj".

Foto: MORH / J. Kopi , G. Novačić 

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