Rich Uzelac, Vice President of the St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Johnstown, PA, and President of Bottleworks Ethnic Museum, and KUM for St. Nicholas with Kuma Chee-Chee-Czubak 2010--- proudly proclaimed at his Uzelac Family Reunion of 140 strong, "We want to be known for more than just being the 'Flood City!'"
Indeed they will be forever more!
Johnstown Serbs have to rank among the topmost friendly, warm, gracious, Christ-loving, hard workers in all of America who value their ethnic Serbian heritage and live by their Serbian Orthodox values. A wonderful time was had by all who worked so hard to prepare for these special days and make Rich's vision come true. And their many guests from throughout the Johnstown area would agree too.
Check out my YouTube video of the 2 day event here:
Many thanks to the people who Partnered with the Johnstown Area Serbs to make a dream a reality!
The BOTTLEWORKS Ethnic Museum of Johnstown
The WAR MEMORIAL ARENA of Johnstown
The TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT Newspaper
Serbian Recipes in the Tribune-Democrat 7/26/10 form the Johnstown Area Heritage Association Cookbook, Ethnic Recipes of Johnstown.
by Tom Lavis, July 12, 2009
by Tom Potts, TPOTTS@TRBDEM.COM
Gregory Freeman was as much a hero as were the wonderful characters in his book, THE FORGOTTEN 500, as he addressed the huge crowd of residents gathered for the first annual SERB FEST in Johnstown, PA, USA, when he spoke of the brave deeds of Draza Mihailovich and his Serbian Chetnik villagers, the OSS American heroes, and the 500 USA Airmen they rescued.
"The local Serbian people were willing to sacrifice their own lives to keep the airmen out of German hands."
"The rescue with the help of the C-47 crago planes from behind enemy lines was an audacious move, and filled with never-ending problems," he said.
"They built an airstrip without any tools-- but then, they were typical of people of that generation-- to do whatever it took."
Greg then spoke of the local Cambria County hero, George Musulin, who will be formally inducted into the Cambria County Military HALL OF FAME on September 18, at the War Memorial Arena, the same area Freeman signed books the day before and answered questions from local Veterans who filled the reception room while TV cameras captured and documented his replies for history.
Freeman told how Cambria County's "Gov" Musulin was the son of immigrants who befriended the Serbs in Serbia. Once they saw the big American who could speak their language, the Serbian villagers became fast friends with the burly guy from Pennsylvania.
The author spoke of how GOV had been a former steel worker, played football at the University of Pittsburgh, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers (then called the Pittsburgh Pirates like the current baseball team), and served in the army at Ft. Mead, Maryland. He was quickly identified there as an excellent OSS candidate, and well he understood the mission, that he might not return. Gov was rather big for his size (like 100 lbs. over the parachute exemption), and his friends took bets on how successful his parachute jumping practices would be, if the parachute would work.
Freeman urged the Johnstown attendees to read the story about the sacrifices that people made for others, and tell the story to the world.
Freeman then spoke on a wide variety of topics, including his interview with the then 92-yr. old George Vujnovich of NYC who vividly described for the author his life as a carefree American student studying in Belgrade, to spearheading the effort to get the American airmen back. (Side note: George Vujnovich was recognized in 2009 by the Ambridge Area High School (Pennsylvania) HALL OF FAME for his daring bravery in this rescue.
Greg Freeman explained, "These young men did more with their lives before they were 20 than we have at 80 or 90!"
He excited the crowd when he complimented the many present who had held onto the story of General Draza Mihailovich with strong emotions throughout their lives, those who were outraged at the sad fate dealt to Draza Miahilovich who was killed after a mock trial in Belgrade by Tito and his Communist government.
And although "Cica Draza" was always so dear to the Serbis in America, he spoke of the other regular Americans, including those 500 airmen, who did fight to clear Draza's name over the years after he was branded a "Collaborator" by the Cambridge spies in Cairo. "Hope for the resurgence of truth, of humanity--depicting stories of individual human beings helping others."
"This story IS of individual human beings helping others, with such emotional drama--more than any fictional tale in history could be."
"The downed airmen told me that when they met Draza Mihailovich, they felt physically small, although the General was almost the same height. They said they could feel his sense of duty to his people. He was warm and kind, but still he instilled discipline in his troops who adored him. "Cica" (Uncle) Draza was greatly loved by the local villagers too. He was a Celebrity without presence."
All to soon the great story teller had to wrap it up. "Thank you for having me at the festival, and thank you for your time."
Wildly enthusiastic response followed as it had when the author finished his Q & A period at the War Memorial Arena in downtown Johnstown!
AGAIN, thanks to the Johnstown newspaper, the TRIBUNE- DEMOCRAT! What a great community newspaper!!!
(Click on the above link!)
by Arlene Johns, 7/9/10
Story of the role played by the late Army Captain, George, "Gov" Musulin, OSS, in recovery of more than 500 American fliers and Allied soldiers.
"May we have a closer look at your historical photo of "Gov" while Gregory signs your books? Thanks, fellas!
George (Gov) Musulin played both for PITT and for the Pittsburgh STEELERS, but then known as Art Rooney's "Pirates," before joining the OSS and becoming an unforgettable hero to all of us!
Bernie Hornick, 7/31/10 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Chee-Chee!