The Death of Miroslav Peris, Hero of the Croatian Skies

Miroslav Peris, Croatian air force pilot and hero of the Homeland War was killed on this day in 1993.

Although his family originated from Sošice in the region of Žumberak, Miroslav Peris was born on 1 February 1961 in Karlovac where he was also raised. After finishing primary school in his hometown, he went to the Marshal Tito Military School of the Yugoslav Air Force in Mostar. Peris mastered his calling as a military pilot in Zadar and Pula and finished as the best in his class. He remained in the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) for 11 years as a member of the 125th Fighter Aviation Squadron.

Peris left the YPA in February of 1992 after he helped Danijel Borović desert the Yugoslav military and fly a MIG fighter jet to Pula, Croatia. Peris immediately joined the Croatian Air Force and was one of the most experienced pilots of the First Fighter Squadron. His comrades remember him as a fearless, selfless and brave patriot.

At the beginning of September 1993, Karlovac and Sisak were among a number of Croatian towns that were targeted by Serbian long-range artillery. In order to neutralize the artillery positions of the Serbian Krajina Army in the Kordun region from where the barrages originated, two Croatian Air Force MIGs piloted by Ivan Selak and Miroslav Peris set off from Pleso Airport in Zagreb in the early morning of 14 September 1993. They successfully completed their mission and as they returned to base, Miroslav Peris’ jet was shot down at 6:50 AM near the village of Trepča just inside rebel Serb occupied territory in Croatia.  

Flying at low altitude to avoid detection by radar and enemy missiles, Peris was hit at a height of 80-100 metres by an anti-aircraft gun from the air defenses of the 21st Kordun Corps of the Serbian Army of Krajina. In an attempt to save himself, Peris flew to a height of 350 metres and was hit by a “cube” anti-aircraft missile after he appeared on enemy radar. Flying at a speed of approximately 900 km/h, Miroslav Peris very nearly cleared the Kupa River where he would have been safe in Croatian-controlled territory.

Interestingly, the shot down MIG-21 aircraft was called the “Avenger of Vukovar”. In May of 1992, pilot Ivica Ivandić deserted to Croatia from the Yugoslav military along with Ivan Selak whose MIG was named the “Avenger of Dubrovnik”. Selak recalled the mission in which Peris was shot down:

That morning, on 14 September 1993 my wingman was hit. The last thing he said was “My leader, I’m hit.” I tried to contact him but there was no response. As I roared just above tree level towards the fireball, I tried to look off to the left towards the forest and the Kupa River when I saw something I had seen too often in my life – a mushroom-shaped explosion rising high into the air. I hoped that my escort, the knight and hero Miroslav Peris, managed to eject from the plane but unfortunately this did not happen. I came back alone. I will never forgive myself for that moment we said farewell before we entered our fighters, looked at each other and I said ‘Don’t worry, we’ll make it back’. I lied because I came back alone. I have never again said those words since.

Peris left behind his wife Snježana and 4-year-old son Ivan. After an exchange of remains, Colonel Miroslav Peris was buried with the highest military honours on 27 September 1993 at the Hrnetić Cemetery in Karlovac. He received a memorial flyover by Croatian air force jets for his service and sacrifice for his beloved homeland Croatia.

Just as he was the top of his class as a student, in Croatia’s war he displayed all the qualities required of a pilot – courage, knowledge, skill, enthusiasm and willingness to sacrifice. He proved himself in liberating occupied areas of the homeland and his death is a great loss. We pay tribute to him for everything he did and was prepared to do for Croatia.

Imra Agotić, General – Croatian Air Force

Today, a modest cross inscribed with Miroslav Peris’ name stands at the location where he died. A bust of Peris was placed in the village of Sošice and a promenade was named after him in the town of Karlovac.

Sošice

Sources
Literature
Rupić, Mate; Maras Kraljević Josipa, ur., Reublika Hrvatska i Domovinski rat 19q90.-1995. Dokumenti, Knjiga 9. Zagreb: Hrvatski memorijalno-dokumentacijski centar Domovinskog rata, 2010
Šaravanja, Vjekoslav. 10.000 djece bez roditelja u Domovinskom ratu. Slavonski Brod: Obiteljski centar župe Duha Svetoga, 2001
Perak, Anđa ur. Poginuli hrvatski branitelji iz Domovinskog rata Karlovačke županije. Karlovac: Udruga obitelji poginulih hrvatskih branitelja iz Domovinskog rata Karlovačke županije, 2018

Internet
Domagoj Vlahović: “Posljednji let Osvetnika Vukovara hrvatskog viteza Miroslava Perisa”, Hrvatski vojnik, access achieved 4 Spetember 2020, https://hrvatski-vojnik.hr/posljednji-let-osvetnika-vukovara-hrvatskog-viteza-miroslava-perisa/
24 sata: “Osvetniku Vukovara trebale su samo 3 minute, ali nije ih imao”, access achieved 4 Spetember 2020, https://www.24sata.hr/news/osvetniku-vukovara-trebale-su-samo-3-minute-ali-nije-ih-imao-540019
KAportal: “Heroj Miroslav Peris dobio šetnicu u svom gradu: To je sjećanje na čovjeka koji je dao život za domovinu koja svi želimo da bude ljepša i bolja”, access achieved 4 Spetember 2020, kaportal.net.hr/aktualno/vijesti/karlovac/3851742/heroj-miroslav-peris-dobio-setnicu-u-svom-gradu-to-je-sjecanje-na-covjeka-koji-je-dao-zivot-za-domovinu-za-koju-svi-zelimo-da-bude-ljepsa-bolja-daje-sigurnost-i-prosperitet-nasoj-djeci/
Udruga Žumberački uskoci: Hrvatski heroj iz Žumberka, access achieved 4 Spetember 2020, http://uskok-sosice.hr/hrvatski-heroj-iz-zumberka/
Facebook – Ivan Selak

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