Only a day after it was launched, Operation “UNA ‘95” came to a tragic end.
On 18 September 1995, the Croatian Army launched Operation “UNA ‘95” when it crossed the Una and Sava Rivers. The plan was to take control of the area around Bosanski Novi, Bosanska Dubica, Bosanska Kostajnica and then the Prosara Mountain. The ultimate goal of the operation was to occupy Prijedor and push Serb forces as far as possible towards Banja Luka. The 1st and 2nd Guard Brigades from the Zagreb and Bjelovar corps as well as the Croatian Air Force and Navy took part in the attack.
Of all participants in the attack, only members of the 1st and 2nd Brigades managed to cross the Una River and build a bridgehead in the area of Bosanska Dubica and Bosanski Novi. Street fighting took place and the command of the 1st Guards Brigade made the decision to bring a tank company of the “Tigers” Armoured Battalion into battle. Nenad Babić, commander of the Armoured Battalion of the 1st Guard Brigade and Homeland War hero was killed as tanks entered the battle the morning of 19 September 1995.
Nenad Babić was born on 23 September 1968 in Zagreb where he grew up in a working class family. His father Zdravko was from Banja Luka, his mother Milka from Vrbovec and he had a younger sister named Zdravka. After graduating from high school in metallurgy, he acquired the title of metal turner and found employment at Chromos. Babić is remembered as a very open and sociable person who had a special gift for music. In high school, he played bass guitar in a band and was interested in folklore while as an athlete he took part in kung-fu and soccer. He was married to Gordana and they were parents to a son Matija who was 3 years old at the time of his father’s death.
As a volunteer in the Homeland War, Babić was a member of the “Tigers” armoured battalion since the summer of 1991. He had an excellent knowledge of armoured weapons and equipment and was attached to the tank company from which the “Tigers” originated. Babić was severely wounded while first seeing action on the battlefield of western Slavonia but this did not stop him as he participated in the liberation of Tasovčić, Prebilovac and Klepac in southern Croatia in the spring of 1992 and later in Operation “JUNE DAWN”. That same year, he led a tank company in the amphibious landing at Cavtat. He completed the officer’s training at the Croatian Military Academy and with the reorganization of the 1st Guard Brigade in April 1995, Babić became the commander of the Armoured Battalion.
Under heavy fire and thick fog, Croatian soldiers retreated across the swollen river to Croatian territory with fresh losses as a boat with 12 guardsmen aboard overturned. Zlatko Karafa, Ivica Pavić, Marijan Furač and Mario Kovačić were killed and the remains of Furač and Kovačić have not yet been found. Other “Tigers” who laid down their lives on the altar of the Homeland during this tragic mission were Bruno Knaus, Krunoslav Vrtar and Ivica Pavlić. The greatest sacrifice was made by the 2nd Guard “Thunder” Brigade which suffered 26 dead.
Cover photogarphy – Croatian forces on Una River (author Željko Gašparović)
Graduated with a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Zagreb. He has worked at the Croatian History Museum and as a researcher for the popular TV Calendar program for Croatian Radio and Television. He has authored several books and documentaries about Croatia’s Homeland War and is the creator/producer of the immensely popular “It Happened on this Day – Homeland War” Facebook page as well as the online portal Domovinskirat.hr. Borna also edits the Braniteljski.hr portal and is the host and editor of the daily segment “Patriotic Minutes” on Croatian Catholic Radio. He created CroHis to promote the values of the Homeland War and ensure that the sacrifices of those who defended Croatia’s independence would not be forgotten.