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Issue: April, 1996
Drill Sergeant Hassna's
by Steve Hassna
HISTORY IS A STRANGE CREATURE, strange indeed. I
have personally been part of a historical period (the Vietnam War) and then
watched it rewritten to suit the prevailing political winds. The old saying
that if you don't understand history it may get you killed, still rings true.
(Editor interjection: That's not the way I heard it but I think Steve's
is an improvement over the "doomed to repeat it"
LISTEN UP, TROOPS!
The following timeline should be helpful in understanding our current military
involvement in Bosnia. I would like to thank Mary (Moore, Editor of the Free
Press)for printing it in its complete form. In the future, I will cover
other historical periods.
About myself: Sonoma County resident for 20 plus years, Vietnam Vet (combat)
101st Airborne 67-68, Army Drill Sgt. 68-69 (basic training). Involved with
Vietnam Vets and anti-war community since 1972. Since 1974, I've spent my
time speaking in high schools and colleges about the historical process,
militarism, draft info and counter recruitment. I look forward to working
with the Free Press in the future.
Editor's note: Steve fails to mention that he is an accomplished and published
poet, whose words pack a powerful punch. Hope he'll send some our way for
Let's go back far enough so that you get a good idea of how long this insanity
has been going on. Here's a sampling of key events in Bosnia's tragic history.
229-228 BC: First Illyrian War, Roman army crushes Illyrian (ancient ancestors
219 BC: Second Illyrian War. Roman punitive expedition smashes Illyrians.
34: Illyricum (Latin for Illyria) pacified by Romans.
AD 395: Roman Empire divided into West and East (Byzantine). Easterns adopt
Eastern Orthodox religion: those in West, Roman Catholicism.
AD 441-443: Attila the Hun invades Illyricum; last bulwark of Western culture
in the ancient world.
AD 650: Southern Slavs fully occupy the former Illyria, driving out original
1235-39: Hungary-Bosnia War. Ends inconclusively.
1254: Serbia is defeated by Hungary and loses Bosnia and Herzegovina.
1349-52: Bosnia is invaded and partially annexed by Serbia.
1363: War with Hungary and revolt of the Bosnian nobles against central
1376: Bosnia annexes western Serbia.
1386-88: Turks invade Bosnia and are defeated at the Battle of Bileca.
1389 July 26: Battle of Kosovo. Southern Slavs defeated by Ottoman Turks
who hold sway over Balkans for next 490 years.
1415: Bosnians defeat Hungarians at Doboj.
1443-44: Bosnians take part in last Crusade which is defeated by Moslems.
1460-63: Bosnian-Turkish War. Bloody battles are fought. Herzegovina is not
totally subdued until 1482. Christian peasants' sons are forcibly recruited
into the Turkish corps of janissaries.
1593, June 20: Battle of Sissek, Austrian army annihilates Ottoman force
1688, 1690, 1693 and 1697: Austria invades Bosnia. Mass migration of Bosnian
Christians. Sarajevo captured in 1697.
1739, Sept. 18: Treaty of Belgrade. Austria abandons portions of Bosnia.
1787: Austrians occupy Bosnia during Turkish War.
1789: Austrians repulse Turkish invasion of Bosnia. Two years later, in 1791
Austria receives a strip of northern Bosnia.
1821: Bosnian Moslem aristocracy revolts against the "infidel" sultan of
1828: A second Bosnian Moslem revolt is quelled with much bloodshed during
the Russo-Turkish War.
1821-28: Greek War of Independence. Adam's Administration refuses to intervene,
fearing losing the "power of extraction." 120,000 lives are lost (88% Greek
1827, Oct. 4 - Nov. 7: U.S. Mediterranean Squadron patrols Aegean Sea to
combat pirates. USS Warren and Porpoise engage in Seven actions, 44 sailors
from the Porpoise kill 40 pirates while recapturing an English brig in Doro
1831: Bosnian Moslem nobles wage holy war against "traitor" Ottoman
1837-39 and 1841: Bosnians rebel against Turkey. 3,000 civilians are
1850: Turkish army crushes Moslem aristocracy of Bosnia. Sarajevo
becomes new capital.
1858: Christian peasantry rebels in northern Bosnia.
1861-62: Revolt in Herzegovina. 2,000 Christian civilians are killed.
1875-77: Christians of Bosnia and Herzegovina rebel against Turks. Entire
Balkan rebellion claims 30,000 lives (66% civilian), Russian volunteers come
to the aid of their Slavic "little brothers".
1878, July 13: End of Turkish Rule in Bosnia. Treaty of Berlin. Austria occupies
Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo occupied Aug. 19. Moslems wage guerrilla
resistance until October. Vienna is forced to mobilize an army of 200,000
men for duty in Bosnia.
1881-82: Insurrection in Herzegovina is sparked by introduction of Austrian
1908, Oct. 7: Austria formally annexes Bosnia Herzegovina outright.
1912-13: First and Second Balkan Wars. Ottoman Empire loses more 80 of its
Balkan territories and 70% of its European population. Retains Thrace. Total
military deaths: 143,000. President Taft refuses to intervene.
1914, June 28 World War I: Bosnian terrorist assassinates Austrian Archduke,
igniting W.W.I., on Sept. 6. Serbs invade Austrian-held Bosnia. Serbs mobilize
707,343 troops during war. 45,000 KIA: 80,000 non-battle deaths: 131,148
WIA. Serbia suffers 650,000 civilian dead.
1918, Dec. 1: Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes formed (includes Bosnia).
Bosnian Moslems are 32.4% of population.
1918, Nov. 28-1919, March 28: U.S. Occupation of Dalmatia Members of 332nd
infantry Regiment deploy to Dalmatia on Adriatic coast to keep peace between
Slavs and Italians. Units occupy Montenegro (2nd Bn.), Treviso (1st Bn.)
and Flume (3rd Bn.).
1919 Sept.: Seizure of Flume. Six months after U.S. troops depart, an Italian
mercenary forcefully occupies Flume Rijeka) for three months. Touches off
1929: Yugoslavia is created from six republics.
1941, April 6-17: World War II. Operation 25, Germany invades Yugoslavia,
Zagreb (April 10) and Sarajevo (April 15) fall. Unconditional resistance
ends April 17. Guerrilla warfare begins.
1941-48: A three-way war is waged between Germany/Ustashe, Partisans and
Chetniks. Yugoslavia mobilizes 3,741,000 men - 305,000 KIA and 425,000 WIA
- during W.W. II Civilian dead - 1,355,000. Germans sustain 15% casualties.
1943, Oct. 21, 1945, April 12: U.S. Bombing Campaign Over Yugoslavia. Begins
at Skopje, Macedonia and ends at Maribor, Slovenia. OSS teams assist in rescuing
500 downed U.S. airmen. 80 killed airmen are buried in Belgrade American
Cemetery during war.
1944, March 27 - Sept. 15: U.S. Air Supply Missions, Flown by 60th Troop
Carrier Group: 34 crew members are lost in action. 7th and 51st Troop Carrier
squadrons participate before.
1944, Nov. 7: U.S. 82nd Squadron fighters mistakenly shoot down three Russian
planes over Nis, Yugoslavia and kill 32 Russians in convoy.
1945, Nov. 29: Communist rule begins.
1945, May 4, 1947, Oct. 24: U.S. Mans Morgan Line in Venezia Giulia Province.
First units are 91st. 10th Mountain. 85th and 34th divisions and II Corps,
88th Division takes over Oct. 3, 1945.
1945, Dec. 24: Pvt. William Shinn of E Co., 349th Inf.., is shot to death
by two Yugoslav partisans.
1946, July 12: 7 man squad from L Co., 351st Inf.., is ambushed near Ursina.
Firefight kills two Yugoslavs. On July 16, Pfc. Walter L. Kagawa is ambushed
and killed on the highway between Gorizia and Trieste along Adriatic coast.
1946, Aug. 9 & 19: Shoot-down of U.S. Planes. Brought down by Yugoslav
air force near Bled. Seven crew members held (later released) in first incident.
Downing of EATS C-47 claims five lives - Capts.. Schreiber, Claeys &
Freestone and Cpls.. Comko and Lower.
1947-1954: U.S. Occupation of Trieste (TRUST). CORE FORMED BY 351st INFANTRY
REGIMENT. 5,000 GIs at Opicinia. 120,000 GIs eventually serve there and in
1948, Jan.: Marines dispatched to Adriatic Sea in response to Tito's belligerent
1953, Oct.: Warships of the U.S. 6th Fleet are dispatched to upper Adriatic
1954, Oct. 24: Last GIs Depart Triest. Bosnian Civil War.
1992, April 6: War begins in Sarajevo suburbs with Serb sniper attacks.
1992, July: Enforcement of arms embargo begins.
1992, July 3: Operation Provide Comfort (Medical) U.S. medical units begin
serving in Zagreb. Croatia to care for wounded.
1993, April 12: Operation Deny Flight. Carrier Wing 8, aboard USS Theodore
Roosevelt, and 36th Fighter Wing, based in Germany, initiate operation by
NATO's 5th Allied Tactical Air Force.
1993, June: Operation Sharp Guard. Formal naval blockade of Adriatic coast
1993, July 7: Operation Able Sentry. First and only U.S. ground combats troops
arrive in the Balkans. Co. C 6th Bn., 502nd Inf. is first to Macedonia. GIs
serve under U.N. command and rotate every six months.
1994, Feb. 28: First U.S. Air Combat. U.S. F-16s shoot down four Serb planes
in "no-fly" zone over Bosnia near Banja Luke.
1995, April 10: First U.S. Air Strikes, USAF and USMC planes bomb Serb forces
1995, May 25: Largest single killing of war. Serb mortar kills 71 people
in Korzo Square, Tuda.
1995, June 2: First U.S. Plande Shot Down. Capt. Scott O'Grady of the 31st
Fighter Wing is downed over Bihac. He is rescued six days later by 41 Marines
of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from the USS Kearsege.
1995, Aug. 19: First U.S. Deaths. Three American diplomatsRobert Frasure,
Joseph Kruzel and Col. Samuel Drewdie in a road accident while on a
mission in Bosnia.
1995 Aug. 30 - Sept. 14: Operation Deliberate Force. Sustained air strikes
against Bosnian Serbs. Aegis cruiser USS Normandy launches 13 Tomahawk cruise
missiles at Serb air defense sites near Banja Luka as part of code name Dead-Eye
1995, Sept. 8: First U.S. Hostile Casualties. Two airmen of the 20th Special
Operations Squadron are wounded in action by Bosnian Serb fire during an
attempt to rescue French pilots shot down near Pale Aug. 30. (Released Dec.
1995, Oct. 13: Cease Fire Takes Effect. U.N. deaths - 210 (62% accidental;
385, or 80, killed as a result of hostile action) and 1,451 wounded. Second
costliest mission in U.N. history.
1995, Nov. 30: War's last casualties. Serb snipers kill 2 Bosnian soldiers
in Ozren region.
1995, Dec. 14: Treaty of Paris ends war.
1995, Dec. 21: NATO formally assumes mission from U.N. 16,000 of 24,000 troops
* * * * * * * * *
1997 update: (Sergeant Hassna's own words) NATO and UN troops are still trooping
around. The Moslems, who still hate the Christians, who still hate them;
the Croats still hate the Serbs who hate the Bosnians and everybody hates
each other. Plus war criminals hiding, mass massacre graves still being found
and everyone pointing the finger at everyone else. You figure it out.
Well I guess that's it for now, so stay tuned and keep reading those papers
for the next contradiction in what we all know and love as the American
See you around the base camp,
Drill Sgt. Hassna
copyright Steve Hassna, 1996 p.s. The timeline was
used from a VFW publication.
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