President Borut Pahor and US congressman Paul A. Gosar honoured eight crew members of a downed US bomber, who lost their lives in a crash near Polzela (NE) during WWII, as keynote speakers at a ceremony on Saturday. The event also celebrated Slovenian- American Friendship and Alliance Day.
Pahor marked the 75th anniversary of the bomber’s downing by laying a wreath at the memorial commemorating the crew members.
In his address, Pahor highlighted the long tradition of friendship between Slovenia and the US, adding that it also allowed for occasional differences in positions.
While the present US administration may perhaps not share the views of Slovenia and the EU, Pahor said that there was always a search for what unites us, as this was important both for Slovenia and the US.
Gosar, a Republican of Slovenian descent who is visiting Slovenia for an extended weekend at the invitation of the president, thanked Pahor on the warm reception he has received in Slovenia.
He argued that Slovenian generosity and courage had also been what had given hope and light to the downed US soldiers.
Gosar received the Golden Order of Merit, one of Slovenia’s highest state decorations, on Friday, for his contribution and cooperation in strengthening relations between Slovenia and the US.
Gosar will also hold meetings with Slovenian officials to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries on Monday.
The congressman recently established the House of Representatives Friends of Slovenia Caucus, which he is to co-chair.
The US bomber B-17 flew from an Italian military base along with other 233 combat aircraft and was headed toward the Austrian Carinthia to bomb the Steyer factory, which was contributing to the German military industry at the time. It was shot down at the Andraz settlement near Polzela on 19 March in 1944.
Eight crew members died in the crash, while two of them were taken as prisoners of war and survived in POW camps. The crew members belonged to the 15th US Air Force division.