Editorial: Fremont Veteran to receive Congressional award

WTOL Vice President and General Manager Bob Chirdon
WTOL Vice President and General Manager Bob Chirdon

This Sunday, Dec. 7 at 11 a.m., at the Air National Guard facility at Toledo Express Airport, Art Jibilian of Fremont will receive a special Congressional award.

Mr. Jibilian played a vital role in one of the last untold stories of World War II, The Forgotten 500. In a remarkable mission, more than 500 U.S. airmen were rescued from the hills of Yugoslavia. At the time, the area was controlled by the Nazis, who were hunting for the American airmen.

Brave Serbian villagers hid the Americans, even though they faced death if they were caught. Mr. Jibilian volunteered to parachute behind enemy lines and coordinate the rescue. He helped build an airstrip in the middle of the forest. He and his team organized the villagers and the downed airmen, and brought the C-4's into the makeshift airstrip. The airmen were rescued.

Mr. Jibilian's heroism is documented in a book by Gregory Freeman: "The Forgotten 500." It is a fascinating story that is all the more spectacular because it is true.

Mr. Jibilian has his official moment this Sunday. I wonder how many moments he helped create for the 500 men who came home to live out their lives with their families. I wish everyone he touched could be here to say "Thank you."