1912 Serbia Kosovo First Balkan War Silver Medal for Bravery
The First Decoration for a True Hero of Serbia:
Dragoljub Draza Mihailovich in the First Balkan War
By Aleksandra Rebic
Colonel Draza Mihailovich, 1937,
already a decorated veteran of three wars,
soon to be of four.
There was no doubt in Draza Mihailovich’s young mind, as he was finishing his sixth year of Gymnasium (Junior High and High School), about what he wanted to be. It was already settled deep in his soul and heart that he wanted to be an officer in the Serbian Army just like two of his uncles were. At 17, when he was accepted into the Belgrade Military Academy in September of 1910 for training, no one in the world was happier than he was. Excellence at the Academy earned him one promotion after another. He began imagining himself as an officer saluted by every soldier that passed him.
Soon he would find out that there was much more to it than that.
In 1911, while young Draza was working his way through his military training at the Academy, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Dr. Milovan Milovanovic, was contacting the leaders of the Balkan countries of Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro about forming an alliance of Balkan states to go to war against Turkey and driving the Ottoman Empire out of the Balkans and out of Europe. There were one million Serbs in captivity of the Ottoman Empire in the southern part of Serbia.
Getting the Balkan states together and forming a union was a long process. When Milovanovic died on June 18, 1912 he was eventually succeeded by Nikola Pasic in September of 1912. Pasic continued strengthening the Balkan Alliance. 100 years ago the time had come for action against the Islamic Empire. On October 8, 1912 Montenegro declared war on Turkey. Less than two weeks later the other Balkan states followed suit. Draza was in his second year at the Military Academy, a 19 year old Cadet Sergeant. When the First Balkan War began in October of 1912, Draza Mihailovich would actively participate in the first of four wars that he would go through in his brief lifetime. He was ready for the challenge. The Turks were still a great military power, but the Serbs were determined to end their five centuries of rule over the Christians in the southern part of Serbia.
Soon came the pivotal Battle of Kumanovo in Macedonia. Cadet Sergeant Mihailovic was fighting with the First Serbian Army under the command of Crown Prince Alexander Karageorgevich. Draza proved himself to be an able warrior and a very brave man. The Serbs won that battle by October 24, 1912 and the Ottoman Turks were on their way out of Serbia, out of the Balkans, and out of Europe. His superiors recommended that Draza Mihailovich be decorated for his extreme bravery in battle.
The Serbs victoriously entered Skoplje, Macedonia on October 26 and at six o’clock that evening Crown Prince Alexander entered the city where a group of officers and soldiers were waiting in line. On the chest of each, the Crown Prince pinned a decoration of honor. Among those who were decorated that evening was 19 year old Draza Mihailovich. The Crown Prince pinned a Silver Medal for Bravery on his chest. This was the first of many decorations Draza would earn during his lifetime. He was, even as a young man just beginning his military career, one of the HEROES OF SERBIA.
The graves of many of these heroes remain unknown. Among them is the gravesite of Draza Mihailovich, which to this day in the summer of 2012 has not been found or marked. On July 17, 1946 one of the greatest crimes a nation can commit against her own was committed in Belgrade when the Yugoslav communists executed a true patriot who had become legend through the course of the four wars he had fought on behalf of his homeland, his beloved people, and freedom and democracy.
The story of patriots such as Draza Mihailovich will be included in the special tribute book HEROES OF SERBIA which I will be issuing in both the Serbian and English language in honor of the 100th anniversary of the wars Serbia fought and won between 1912 and 1918.
Banner courtesy of the Movement of Serbian Chetniks Ravne Gore
Cleveland, Ohio Chapter
Chicago, IL U.S.A.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra,
please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org