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Slovenian-US friendship celebrated at WWII remembrance event

Polzela, 2 April - Slovenian and US officials hailed the friendly ties between their countries at Saturday's event near the town of Polzela dedicated to remembering the crash of a US bomber at the site during World War II.

Andraž nad Polzelo
President Borut Pahor addressing a ceremony to remember the crash of a US bomber near the town of Polzela during WWII.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Andraž nad Polzelo
President Borut Pahor and US Ambassador Brent Hartley (both in foreground) attend a ceremony to remember the crash of a US bomber during WWII.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Andraž nad Polzelo
President Borut Pahor and US Ambassador Brent Hartley (both in foreground) attend a ceremony to remember the crash of a US bomber during WWII near the town of Polzela.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Andraž nad Polzelo
President Borut Pahor (second from left) and US Ambassador Brent Hartley (second from right) watch as two US F-16 jets conduct a flyby at a ceremony to remember the crash of a US bomber during WWII.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Addressing the annual remembrance ceremony, President Borut Pahor said that the salute to the US airmen killed in the crash "reaffirms our commitment to sincere cooperation and our multi-faceted alliance".

Pahor and US Ambassador to Slovenia Brent Hartley laid a wreath at a memorial plaque remembering the tragedy at Andraž nad Polzelo from 72 years ago.

Hartley said today's ceremony was not only a way of remembering those who fell in defence of freedom but also confirmation of a joint commitment to peace, human rights and a free and united Europe.

The site represents the foundations of the US-Slovenian friendship and military alliance which have persevered and expanded since World War II, he said.

Pahor said that "while we have gathered here to remember a tragic event, we do so by keeping in mind the bravery displayed by the generation of the time and the Allied soldiers who helped defend freedom".

"Three-quarters of a century ago our forefathers helped write a new chapter of hope as they defeated the axis of evil.

"We have a responsibility today to open a new chapter of hope for our children by working to safeguard and reinforce peace," Pahor was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

As part of the event, two American F-16 fighters from the Aviano base in Italy conducted a flyby over Polzela, public broadcaster RTV Slovenija reported.

The annual ceremonies remember the downing of the bomber Dark Eyes, an American B-17 Flying Fortress which flew on missions in support of Allied forces.

The plane was shot down over Polzela in a skirmish with German fighter planes during a mission to destroy a Nazi supply factory in Austria on 19 March 1944.

Eight crew members were killed in the crash and two survivors were taken hostage by the Nazis, who were in control of the area at the time.

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© STA, 2016