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Publisher's Summary

The astonishing, never-before-told story of the greatest rescue mission of World War II: when the OSS set out to recover more than 500 airmen trapped behind enemy lines. During a bombing campaign, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian villagers risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers, and for months the airmen lived in hiding, waiting for rescue.
In 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip: without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the rescue planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back: without getting shot down themselves.
Classified for over 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. The Forgotten 500 is the breathtaking, behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.
©2007 Gregory A. Freeman (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By B. Beck on 03-06-08

Must Read for WWII Fans

Wow --- what an exciting/excellent story about a little-know rescue of American airmen behind enemy lines during World War II --- was so informative to hear about the aircraft they flew, the training, the missions, the dangers, and some of their personal lives, especially the parts about Yugoslavian-Americans.
The book gets slightly bogged down in the middle with political history --- sounds like a text book but don’t let that deter you --- was a fascinating, extremely interesting story that I could not stop listening to --- I was sorry when it ended --- highly recommended.
I felt so lucky to have selected this one.

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10 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 11-26-07

The greatest generation, again!

Wow, this is another example of why this was the “greatest generation”. This book was non-stop action that script writers could only hope to come up with.

Kudos to Patrice Lawlor in his narration. I also enjoyed him in another worthy read/listen, The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai. He is quickly becoming another of my favorite readers.

This is the story of downed pilots in Yugoslavia and their life with the Yugoslav peasants as they helped to hide these airmen from the Germans. Simultaneously, the story of the internal struggle for power in Yugoslavia between Tito and Mihailovich was played out along with the Allies’ analysis of which of these two was their greatest ally. Even though Mihailovich was the one who was responsible for assisting in the rescue of these men, history shows that the Allies threw their support to the communist Tito—helping communism gain a foothold in Eastern Europe that would last more than 40 years.

I was surprised to learn of the way the British (intentionally or not) sabotaged the American efforts to rescue their men. This information was jaw-dropping. In the end, Mihailovich was abandoned and not acknowledged by America for nearly 60 years.

Ronald Reagan wrote of Mihailovich, “I wish that it could be said that the great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of western governments in dealing with communism…Beyond doubt, both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends." Words that still have meaning today.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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