The Ploesti old fields in southeastern Romania were a vital strategic bombing objective for the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Located 35 miles north of the capital Bucharest, Ploesti had formerly supplied one-third of Germany’s oil. The U.S. had targeted Ploesti to deprive the German military of petroleum. The U.S. first bombed Ploesti on June 12, 1942 during the HALPRO bombing raid. Then on August 1, 1943 during Operation Tidal Wave, a major bombardment was launched.
The Soviet Red Army advance on Yugoslavia and the capital Belgrade in 1944 was launched from Romania. Russian troops had captured Ploesti on August 30, 1944. But before its capture, Ploesti remained a major bombing target for U.S. forces.
On August 26, 1944, a U.S. B-24 Liberator crew conducted a bombing mission in Romania. On its return flight, it was shot down over the village of Vratnica in the former Yugoslavia, then occupied and annexed by Bulgaria. The Liberator bomber crashed in the wooded hills overlooking the village. Civilians from Vratnica were able to help the survivors and to bury those who were killed.
Vratnica was a village located in northwestern Macedonia at the border with Kosovo and Metohija. It had been part of Serbia after the First Balkan War in 1912. Before 1912, it had been part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the region known as Turkey in Europe. In 1915, it was occupied by Bulgarian troops during World War I. In 1918, it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, the name of the country was changed to Yugoslavia. Vratnica was made a part of the Vardar or Vardarska Banovina from 1929 to 1941. Vratnica was part of a region called Southern Serbia or Stara Srbija, Ancient or Old Serbia. Claims were made on the area by Serbia and Bulgaria who fought three wars over the region, in 1913, 1915, and 1941. After 1945, Vratnica was part of the Republic of Macedonia created by the new Communist regime under Josip Broz Tito. In 1992, Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia. A dispute remains with Greece over the name of the country because there is a region in Greece called “Macedonia”. Greece, thus, objects to the use of the name. Internationally, the country is officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM).
During World War II, Vratnica was occupied by Bulgarian troops who seized large swaths of territory in Macedonia which were annexed. Albanian nationalists and separatists also seized Vratnica and incorporated the village and surrounding area into the Nazi-fascist Greater Albanian state for a brief period during World War II. During the 2001 Albanian insurgency, Vratnica was again attacked and besieged by Albanian separatists of the so-called National Liberation Army.
The U.S. Army Air Force launched its attack on Ploesti from bases in Bari, Italy. The Liberator crew that crashed in Vratnica was part of the 15th Air Force, 455th Bomber Group, 732 Bomber Squadron, based in Bari, Italy.
The captain of the bomber crew was 1st Lt. Edwin Carl Kieselbach of Ravenna, Oklahoma. The rest of the crew was made up of eight members: 2nd Lt. John T. Edwards, the co-pilot, from of Gleason, Tennessee, 1st Lt. Richard T. McCauley, the bombardier from Providence, Rhode Island, T/Sgt. Edward Ambrosini, the radio operator and gunner from Brooklyn, New York, Sgt. David C. Koblitz, the engineer and gunner from Erie, Kansas, S/Sgt. Willis C. Stephenson, the assistant radar operator and Ball Turret gunner from Topeka, Kansas, S/Sgt. Bruce B. Tuthill, the assistant engineer and gunner from Seaford, New York, S/Sgt Harold L. Viken, the armorer and nose gunner from Denver, Colorado, and S/Sgt William M. Rhodes, the tail gunner from Cray Court, South Carolina. Their aircraft was a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber named “Our Love” with the Airframe designation #42-78240.
Their bombing objective on August 26, 1944 was a train depot marshaling yard in Bucharest, Romania from where oil was shipped. It was also a hub for troop movements and weapons transports. Four squadrons participated in the attack. Each squadron had up to nine bombers. The bomb payload was three tons for every plane.
Over the target, the Our Love Liberator crew was attacked by anti-aircraft. The plane was hit. One of the engines was damaged. This resulted in the plane losing speed and falling behind while the rest of the squadron headed for the Bari base. The bomber was now descending and vulnerable to attack by German fighter planes. Five German Messerschmitt ME 109 fighters attacked the plane with machine guns. The tail and waist gunners were hit. The co-pilot was also injured and died from his wounds.
As the plane flew lower, it sought to avoid the Shar Planina range of mountains by flying over valleys. This allowed anti-aircraft batteries to zero in on the plane. The captain ordered the crew to bail out. The bomber’s two vertical tail assembly rudders were struck which put the plane in a spin. The crew used the bomb bay door to jettison equipment and ammunition and to parachute out of the badly crippled plane.
The captain hit a tree but managed to land safely on the heavily wooded mountainside just over the village of Vratnica. He had suffered a shoulder injury. The turret gunner, however, was killed when he struck the mountain. Both Tuthill and Koblitz had been ejected from the plane and had died instantly on impact. The body of Koblitz was found in a tree still strapped in the harness.
Two Bulgarian soldiers spotted the captain hiding in the woods. He was able to shoot them and flee into the mountains.
Vratnica residents carrying shotguns and pitchforks located him. One of the Vratnica residents could speak English. He told the captain that he had lived in Detroit, Michigan. The captain recalled that Bulgarian and German troops soon arrived and took him prisoner. He was taken to the Bulgarian prison camp at Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria. With Russian troops advancing on Bulgaria, the guards fled, allowing the captain to escape. He managed to get to Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Cairo from where he was returned to the air base in Italy.
There were three survivors of the crash, Kieselbach, the captain, Richard McCauley, the bombardier, and Edward Ambrosini, the radar operator. The rest were killed. Vratnica residents were able to bury those who were killed in the village cemetery. From here they were moved to Belgrade and finally returned to the U.S.
On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the crash, a memorial plaque was placed in the Vratnica cemetery to commemorate the crew. The U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Paul Wohlers, commended the residents of Vratnica at the unveiling:
“The residents of this small village risked their lives when they decided to bury the killed airmen and help the survivors. The United States of America and the families of the US pilots will be eternally grateful for what they did.
Today we honor the memory of those who perished in the fight for freedom and we honor the friendship between the people of Macedonia and the USA. The Americans and the residents of Vratnica were close friends and allies back in 1944 and the USA and Macedonia are even more so today.”
- Bassemir, June Tuthill, “A Case For Peace”. 2013. The More Stories Place.
- Fields, Spencer. “Unearthing History. Discovery of fallen WWII bomber unleashes memories.” Cerignola Connection. Fall, 2014. 455th Bomb Group Association Newsletter, pp. 17-18. Reprinted from State Magazine, December, 2013.
- Kieselbach, Captain Edwin C. “The Last Flight”. 2013. The More Stories Place.
By Carl K. Savich
The most useful parable about progressives is that offered by Bernard Sanders, self-styled “socialist-progressive-independent” rep from Vermont. Sanders owes his political career to rage against the Vietnam War among radicals, many of whom moved into the state in the early 1970s. They forthwith planned a long-term, carefully organized, assault on Vermont’s two-party structure. Sanders linked his political ambitions to this effort to organize a third force, the Progressive Alliance. He became mayor of Burlington and, later, congressman.
At a rapid clip the emphasis moved from party-building to Sanders-building. By 1994, it was apparent that the only movement B. Sanders was interested in ...
Gavrilo Princip was first buried in secret in an unmarked grave at the Theresienstadt or Terezin prison following his death on April 28, 1918. His remains were exhumed and transferred to Sarajevo on July 7, 1920. This was Gavrilo Princip’s grave until 1939 when a Chapel was built to replace the grave.
The other conspirators were also interred in this grave. Bogdan Zerajic’s remains were also reburied here.
The assassination occurred on the Orthodox holiday, Vidovdan or St. Vitus’ Day, Sunday, on June 28, 1914. For this reason the conspirators were called the “Vidovdan Heroes” and the Chapel memorial was named “The ...
The speech delivered Tuesday by Donald Trump to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York was without precedent either for the UN or the American presidency.
Speaking before a world body ostensibly created to spare humanity the “scourge of war” and founded on the principles elaborated at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the American president openly embraced a policy of genocide, declaring that he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people.
The fact that nobody in the assembly moved for Trump’s arrest as a war criminal, or even ...
This paper was presented by the late Sean Gervasi at the Conference on the Enlargement of NATO in Eastern Europe and the Mediterrenean, Prague, 13-14 January 1996. It was published on Global Research when the Global Research website was launched on September 9, 2001.
The late Sean Gervasi had tremendous foresight. He understood the process of NATO enlargement several years before it actually unfolded into a formidable military force. He had also predicted the breakup of Yugoslavia as part of a US-NATO project.
See also Sean Gervasi’s 1993 video interview
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has recently sent a large task force into ...
On Monday March 23, the US House of Representatives adopted H. Res. 162 urging president Obama “to provide Ukraine with military assistance” in dire attempt to reignite conflict in the East of Ukraine, mainly frozen as a result of February 2015 Minsk agreements between Kiev and the outbreak Donetsk and Lugansk provinces with French, German and Russian mediation. The general presumptions of the resolution are as evident as false: it contains routine mantras about “Russian aggression”, “Crimea occupation”, “violent separatist proxies” and “insurrection that has resulted in over 6,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, and more than a million displaced persons”, as ...
There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media.
On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia.
Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply ...
On June 2, a few days before the California primary, Hillary Clinton gave up trying to compete with Bernie Sanders on domestic policy. Instead, she zeroed in on the soft target of Donald Trump’s most “bizarre rants” in order to present herself as experienced and reasonable. Evidently taking her Democratic Party nomination for granted, she is positioning herself as the perfect candidate for hawkish Republicans.
Choosing to speak in San Diego, home base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, on a platform draped with 19 American flags and preceded by half an hour of military marching music, Hillary Clinton was certain of ...
In nineties, Srebrenica was the center of terrorist activities – « Jihad », the Muslim 28th Division under the command of Naser Oric Monster, with the participation of mujahedeens operated here, covered by UN and US forces. In 1993, The Embassy of Bosnia & Herzegovina, in Vienna, even issued the Bosnian passport to Osama bin Laden! Thus, Bin Laden became honored Bosnian citizen, under blessings of the Bill Clinton administration.
The US diplomacy is still supporting the pro-Muslims’ politics in the Balkans. Bil Laden was killed, but his mujaheedins can still freely work in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia. How is that ...
Seventeen years have passed and many people have already forgotten that the U. S. and a number of other NATO countries collectively waged one of the most destructive wars on the European continent since the end of World War II–the modern aerial bombing campaign against the Serbian people. In the tradition of the New World Order, this “intervention” wasn’t called “war.” It was argued by various Western politicians and the corporate media that the bombing campaign was directed against the late Serbian President Milošević and his “propaganda machine.”[i] In fact, the NATO bombs loaded with depleted uranium[ii] were falling on ...
The following research is a review around the theme of Southeastern European organized crime, mainly in the period 1995-2007, highlighting the emergence of powerful regional “Mafias” with an actual global presence.
The main focus is the Albanian criminal syndicates centered on Kosovo. The research is composed by previous material of the writer, some of which was presented in international workshops. Moreover the issue of radical Islam is being overviewed in a second part,for the same period, along with information regarding the state of affairs of the Muslim communities in the region.
Narcotics and the emergence of crime syndicates in the Balkans
In the period before the 1999 NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) waged a campaign to secede and establish an independent Kosovo dominated by Albanians and purged of every other ethnic group. In October 1998, KLA spokesman Bardhyl Mahmuti spelled the KLA’s vision: “We will never change our position. The independence of Kosovo is the only solution…We cannot live together [with Serbs]. That is excluded.”
Once NATO’s war came to an end, the KLA set about driving out of Kosovo every non-Albanian and every pro-Yugoslav Albanian it could lay its hands on. The KLA left in its wake ...
Photo evidence of Jihadization of Kosovo & Metochia by Muslim Albanians from June 1999 onward. Kosovo after June 1999 when became occupied by NATO troops became the first world's ISIS/ISIL.
The EuroChristian culture of the ethnic Serbs is systematically destroyed like today in the Middle East for the reason to create pure Islamic state. At the same time Kosovo & Metochia is becoming overwhelmingly Islamized with ethnic cleansing of all non-Albanians especially of the Christian Serbs.
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Statistics from 2014
Five days before the celebration of the 71th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s capitulation to the Soviet and allied troops in the WWII, the new NATO Supreme Commander in Europe Curtis Scaparrotti announced that he came to beat the drums of war again. Ignoring the historic facts and legitimate Russian interests in its around, in his first speech after assuming office he condemned alleged “Russian aggressive behavior that challenges international norms” and called the bloc members to “fight tonight if deterrence fails.”
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Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think ...
Imagine that Vladimir Putin were not a murderous autocrat and kleptocrat who has spent his fourteen years in power living up to his KGB past and dragging Russia ever back towards Communist autocracy, illiberalism, and expansionism. Imagine that instead he were one of the greatest leaders that Russia has had, whose policies have helped produce a massive rise in living standards and life expectancy, recuperation of national pride, and enforcement of the rule of law, who has tackled kleptocrats and gangsters wisely and well, whose foreign policy has on balance been realistic, diplomatic, and conducive to peace, who has presided ...
In the sea of misinformation sloshing around the Western media during the Yugoslav civil wars, Serbs fared the worst. As a rule, they were accused even of atrocities that never happened, or were committed by others. The real truth would usually emerge several years later, from the mouths of international officials who at the time held important and responsible positions.
Jack Kelley: Thousands of Serbs died due to his fabricated stories; that puts him on war criminal list
American press and electronic media have “discovered” that the Serbs weren’t the “bad guys” to the extent the American reporters from the Balkans made ...
Note: We are republishing this essay by S. Brian Willson describing the true history of genocide in the United States which stands in stark contrast to the myth of Thanksgiving because of its popularity with readers and its educational value.
The Defining and Enabling Experience of Our “Civilization”
As we again plan to celebrate what US “Americans”call Thanksgiving, let us pause for a moment of reflection. Let us recognize that accounts of the first Thanksgiving are mythological, and that the holiday is actually a grotesque celebration of our arrogant ethnocentrism built on genocide.
Native Americans in the Caribbean greeted their 1492 European invaders ...
The Birkenstock Bomber: When Bernie Did Serbia
Gavrilo Princip’s Grave: The Interwar Years, 1920-1939
Trump’s “Mein Kampf” Tirade at the United Nations (September 2017)
Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?
Arms To The Sadists: US Congress Urges Pres. Obama To Provide Ukraine With More Torture Techniques
On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles
Hillary Comes Out as the War Party Candidate
The USA Bombing List: The Democracy World Tour
Srebrenica, Another Genocide Over Serbian Population
Embracing the US-NATO War Criminals Who Destroyed Our Country
Southeastern European Organized Crime & Extremism Review
“We have the right to live”: NATO’s war on Yugoslavia and the expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo
Photo story: Muslim Albanian Islamic State of Kosovo from 1999 onwards
The USA is No. 1 in the World!
“Operation Unthinkable” (1945) And US-NATO’s Threats To Wage War On Russia
Russophobia And The Dark Art Of Anti-Russian Magazine Covers
All The American Lies About Serbs – Some Of The Worst War Crimes Have Been Committed By Reporters
Genocide And The Thanksgiving Myth