The Slovenia Times

Airmen commemoration marks Slovenian-US Friendship Day

Memorial to US airmen downed near Polzela in eastern Slovenia. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Strong ties between Slovenia and the United States were highlighted as a ceremony remembering the crew of a US bomber that crashed near Polzela during World War II marked Slovenian-American Friendship Day on 12 May.

Friendship between Slovenia and the US is strong and the two countries have developed various forms of cooperation in virtually every field, President Nataša Pirc Musar said in her keynote.

In defence, cooperation started long before Slovenia joined NATO in 2004, Pirc Musar said, stressing that exchange of experience, donations of equipment and infrastructure, and access to international military training were important factors in the development of Slovenia's own defence system.

The B-17 bomber carrying 10-strong crew was shot down by Nazi forces on 19 March 1944. It was on its way to bomb a Steyer plant in Austria that produced weapons for the Nazi forces.

Only two of the men survived the crash near Polzela in eastern Slovenia, and they were helped by the locals. In 2014, a monument was erected at the cemetery, honouring the dead crewmen.

Pirc Musar said this day commemorated a time when it was important to be on the right side: fighting against Fascism and Nazism, against the evisceration of the country, for the preservation of the Slovenian language and culture, and for democracy.

The ceremony was held at the cemetery in Andraž nad Polzelo, where the crew members who lost their lives are buried.

Prominent guests included US Ambassador to Slovenia Jamie Harpootlian, the Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš, and US General Christopher G. Cavoli, the commander of US European Command and supreme allied commander Europe.


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