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RMU to Host World War II Hero Carl Walpusk

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Walpusk’s ordeal was chronicled in “The Forgotten 500”


Pittsburgh, Sept. 10, 2014- Robert Morris University will host a Constitution Day event honoring World War II veteran Carl Walpusk, who will also speak. The event takes place at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Rogal Chapel at RMU’s Moon Township campus.

Walpusk, 90, of Moon Township, is one of more than 500 American troops rescued from Serbia during World War II, in the events chronicled in the best-selling book, The Forgotten 500.

Walpusk is originally from Somerset County and entered military service in March 1943. He joined the 98th Bomb Group, part of the U.S. Army Air Force, which had been running missions over North Africa and Italy. In July 1944, at age 19, Walpusk and his crew were returning from a raid on Ploiesti, Romania, when the Germans shot down their plane over Serbian territory in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia.

The gunner was killed, but Walpusk and the remaining crew parachuted out of the plane. Rescued by a band of Serbian Chetnik fighters led by Gen. Draza Mihailovic, they were kept hidden for 33 days until they were finally rescued by airlift with other troops.

Operation Halyard airlifted 512 total Allied soldiers in August 1944, the largest ever from behind enemy lines. The Yugoslavian government arrested and tried Mihailovic, executing him in 1946. Walpusk went on to serve 35 years in the military. He is the winner of the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf.   

The event is co-sponsored by the RMU Oral History Center – part of the Department of Social Sciences -- the Office for Student and Civic Engagement, and the Serb National Federation.