Minister Vulin: Being a Member of the Serbian Armed Forces Means to Dedicate One’s Life to the Ideal of Freedom

Friday, 2.8.2019 | Culture and traditions
Today, in the framework of marking the Day of Aviation Branch, Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin, Commander of the 204th Air Brigade of the Air Force and Air Defence, Brigadier General Željko Bilić and members of the family Pavlović, attended ceremony of revealing the plaque with the new name of the military airfield “Colonel-Pilot Milenko Pavlović” at the airfield in Batajnica.
 
Nemanja Pavlović, the son of the perished pilot, addressed the present on behalf of the family Pavlović, and underlined that it was that airfield from which his father had took off not for a common combat mission, but he went to history, legend and story.
 
- He took off to protect the vulnerable ones, his native country, his native land, and he engaged into combat with those who did not know about the history, nor about the roots, or of the glory, honour, pride, or human dignity. That was not a flight into death, because your heroism is immortal. All these years, my brother and I, together with our mother and grandmother have been cherishing the memory of our father and his deed. His heroism and feat will always guide us through life. Today, twenty years later, on the day of the great Orthodox holiday Saint Ilija, we as family, together with you, are standing here on the very same airfield, which bears his name. For us, as family, it is a great honour that the largest military airfield in the country bears the name of our father. We hope that his name and his feat will motivate all young people – Nemanja Pavlović stressed, thanking all those who had contributed to that unique memorial, primarily to retired pilots and friends from the war of Colonel Pavlović, the Ministry of Defence and President of Republic Aleksandar Vučić who had supported that initiative and implemented it.
 
After the plaque had been revealed, Minister Vulin reminded that 20 years had passed since NATP aggression, which had left terrible and deep scars, devastated country and almost completely destroyed Air Force and Air Defence.
 
- Twenty years ago, they killed Colonel Pavlović, but they did not succeed in killing his spirit, his Serbia; Serbia for which he exists and for which he lived. In 1999 and afterwards, AF and AD was wounded, destroyed, and it was almost forgotten. Since 2012 until the present, the Air Force has started raising its head. Since 2012 until today, the Air Force and Air Defence have shown that they are capable of defending this country, to protect our sky. We will not, like many other countries, some richer and more developed than us, allow that someone else protects our sky, our sovereignty, and our right to make our own decisions under this very sky Minister Vulin stressed.
 
According to Minister Vulin, being a member of the Serbian Armed Forces is not a job like any other.
 
- Being a member of Serbian Armed Forces is a life mission, orientation to dedicate one’s life to the ideal of freedom; the ideal for which the Serbian people exists. That is why we are standing today in front of the proud name and honourable family of Colonel Pavlović, humble and aware that we are not worthy, but confident that this country has always given birth to such people, and that it will always give birth to them in every moment of trouble, when it is necessary. Small people are capable of great deeds, and small nations give birth to great men – the minister of defence stressed.
 
According to General Bilić, on 4th May 1999, Colonel Milenko Pavlović Commander of the 204th Fighter Wing, took off in his MiG-29 for a combat mission in order to confront multiply superior enemy, the NATO aggressor.
 
- Unfortunately, during that combat mission he was shot by NATO aviation and he placed at the altar of his fatherland the most valuable thing that a man could give – his life. With that feat, the true patriot placed himself among the immortals. His heroic deed became a symbol of heroism both for all the pilots and a symbol of freedom loving spirit of our people, our armed forces and our airmen – General Bilić emphasised.
 
Speaking about the idea to name our largest military airfield after Colonel Pavlović, General Bilić reminded that the idea to change the name of the military airfield Batajnica had first appeared in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the Air Force existence.
 
- And now, seven years after, in the year in which we mark the 20th anniversary of NATO aggression against the FRY, remembering all the victims and all those who gave their lives, we proudly reveal the plaque with the name of one of our best pilots, our hero Milenko Pavlović. Choosing the new name of the airfield Batajnica was not by all means easy, having in mind that heroic and proud Serbia had produced a great number of airmen who competed shoulder to shoulder with our Pavlovićа for this honour – General Bilić explained.
 
Upon Decision of the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces on naming military facilities, as of 6th June 2019, former name of the military airfield “Batajnica” was changed into Military Airfield “Colonel Pilot Milenko Pavlović”.

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