The 25th anniversary of the international recognition was formally marked with a concert held in…
Premiere of „Heroes Are Never Forgotten“
The premiere of Croatian Radiotelevision’s documentary “Heroes are never forgotten”, which centres on American hero of Croatian descent Peter Tomich, was held in Hall “Zvonimir” at the House of the Croatian Armed Forces on 7th December, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Ištvan Filaković directed the film after a script written by Vladimir Brnardić and Nenad Bach. Dražen Lipka was in charge of cinematography, while Mladen Radaković edited the film. Nenad Bach also composed the score for the film, which was recorded by the Croatian Radiotelevision’s Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Alan Bjelinski. The orchestra also performed at the premiere, where it was conducted by Olja Dešić.
The premiere was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, the Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Drago Matanović, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Croatian Veterans Nevenka Benić, Special Advisor to Defence Minister Božo Kožul, U.S. Ambassador to Croatia W. Robert Kohorst, U.S. Military Attaché Colonel Robert Mathers, the filmmakers, Peter Tomich’s family members and many more. A special guest was Ret. Rear Admiral Robert Lunney from the USA, who tracked down Peter Tomich’s descendants in Prolog, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Minister Krstičević thanked all individuals who had recognized the importance of preserving the memory and the truth about the Croatian hero’s heroic deeds: “With his act of courage, Peter Tomich not only demonstrated dedication to the military profession and loyalty to his fellow fighters, but also confirmed that true bravery and determination are recognizable virtues which have marked the history of the Croatian soldier and the Croatian man. These are the virtues that we aim to develop in the victorious Croatian Armed Forces.” He stressed how glad he was that the premiere had been attended by cadets from the Croatian Military Academy, to whom Peter Tomich could serve as an inspiration for their future activities in the Croatian Armed Forces. Further, Peter Tomich was a message to everyone that Croats ought to be determined in searching for missing persons and victims of the Homeland War. “As a country that has recently experienced loss and war afflictions, we observe each such heroic deed with particular reverence. What makes us especially proud is that this man was one of our own,” Minister Krstičević said.
Ambassador Kohorst congratulated the filmmakers and thanked the organizers of the event. He compared the tragedy of Pearl Harbor with that of Vukovar, where he recently attended the commemoration dedicated to the anniversary of war sufferings in that town: “Just like Vukovar, Pearl Harbor is perceived as a tragedy. We mourn those we lost, but also celebrate those who demonstrated incredible courage in those tragic events. Both Croatia and the USA can now extol the hero that is Peter Tomich with pride.”
Ret. Rear Admiral Lunney recalled the search for the Croatian hero’s roots. He pointed out that the successful search was a result of a collaboration with and assistance from numerous Croatian friends. “It is important that we all recognize the shared values and traditions of the USA and Croatia and recall that we are firm allies in the domains of defence and security,” Admiral Lunney said.
The film revolves around Peter Tomich’s heroic act and the search for his descendants. One of the first victims of the sudden Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, which marked the beginning of World War Two in the Pacific, was USS “Utah”. Peter Tomich saved a great many crew members from certain death while putting his own life at risk. In 1942, he was posthumously decorated for the heroic deed which had cost him his life with the highest American military decoration for acts of valour, the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is one of 15 members of the United States Navy who received this decoration for the exceptional courage demonstrated during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. After six and a half decades, one of only few unpresented Medals of Honor was presented to Peter Tomich’s family aboard the U.S. Navy’s largest aircraft carrier USS “Enterprise”, anchored in Split, in 2006.
Text by DORIS RAVLIĆ
Photo by TOMISLAV BRANDT