Thirty years ago, the news of the brave venture of a Croatian pilot who fled the then Yugoslav People’s Army in a MiG-21 plane and flew to Klagenfurt went around the world. Everyone conveyed his words: "I am a Croat, I cannot and will not shoot at Croats." Rufolf Perešin became one of the greatest heroes of the Homeland War.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Perešin's flight with a MiG-21 fighter plane from the Yugoslav people’s Army to Austria, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received Ljerka Perešin, the wife of the legendary pilot. In addition to the Prime Minister, Minister Tomo Medved and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for Defense Damir Krstičević were also present at the meeting.
Prime Minister Plenković thanked the Perešin family for their courage, strength and patriotism, as well as the sacrifice of the late Rudolf. He said that it is up to all of us to nurture the lasting memory of the heroes of the Homeland War and ensure the dignity of Croatian veterans and their families.
“We owe eternal gratitude and respect to Rudolf Perešin, who showed courage, love and loyalty to the homeland and made the greatest sacrifice for its freedom, said the Prime Minister. He especially pointed out that young generations cherish the memory of true heroes of the Homeland War, such as Perešin.
“We've been living with it all these years. I’ve said it before and I’m always talking - it feels like it was yesterday. When we evoke memories of everything that happened in 30 years, it is an entire era,” said Ljerka Perešin.
Rudolf Perešin was born in Gornja Stubica and grew up in Ivanić Grad. Four days after the flight, he returned to Croatia and joined the National Guard Corps and participated in the creation of the Croatian Air Force. He was killed on a combat mission in Operation Flash on May 2, 1995. The memory of him does not fade.
Many veterans remember Perešin's legendary flight. They will never forget what Perešin's decision meant to them. Even today, he is a role model, especially to fellow pilots.
The MiG-21 aircraft marked "26 112" with which Rudolf Perešin flew from Bihać to Klagenfurt on October 25, 1991, was returned to Croatia in May 2019 after 28 years, and was previously in the Military Aviation Museum in the Austrian town of Zeltweg.
The plane of Homeland War hero Rudolf Perešin is currently located in the 91st wing of the Croatian Air Force in the "Colonel Marko Živković" barracks in Pleso, after which it is planned to be exhibited in the future Croatian Military Museum.
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