His Mother believes that her Son is still Alive – War Hero Krešimir Papac disappeared in the Battle of Slakovci

On 20 September 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) attacked the village of Slakovci located on the road between Vinkovci and Tovarnik in eastern Slavonia.

As the local residents left their homes and fled across the Bosut River towards Otok, a small number of defenders tried to stop the advancing enemy forces and were supported by a platoon of the 1st A “Tigers” Brigade of the National Guard Corps located in Đeletovci. A column of 15 YPA transporters was temporarily stopped and a small group of “Tigers” comprised of Stojan Marin, Ante Tandara, Zdravko Novak and Krešimir Papac approached the column from behind and took up a favourable position before being discovered by the enemy. In the gunfire that ensued, Krešimir Papac was killed and it took 5-6 hours for his comrades to return to positions controlled by Croatian forces.

We were ambushed in a cornfield about 50 by 150 meters in size. The cornfield was surrounded by tanks, transports and infantry all chasing after the enemy. It lasted almost all day. Running away from the tanks that were trampling the corn in order to force us to a clearing, I don’t even know how we got out. At one point I said I could no longer bear the pressure and said we should either surrender or kill ourselves. Thanks to Stojan Marin, who was collected and told me: ‘Ante, we can always do that, let’s try to get out’, we did. Those were the circumstances in which Krešimir Papac was killed. We were not able to get him out and he is still listed as missing.

Ante Tandara

Krešimir Papac was born on 27 November 1965 in Zagreb. He was the only son of parents Spasoje and Olga. After finishing elementary school and languages high school in his hometown, Papac enrolled at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture at the University of Zagreb but did not complete his studies due to the war. With the arrival of democratic changes in Croatia, he became actively involved in politics as a member of the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) already in December 1989 when the party did not even have legal status.

As an avowed patriot talented in politics, Papac was an exceptional speaker and possessed the abilities and characteristics of a leader. In addition, he played sports and trained in martial arts. When war broke out, he was the President of the Local Community of Utrina named after the Zagreb suburb where he lived. In July 1991, he voluntarily joined the 1st A Brigade of the National Guard Corps and was assigned to the Eastern Slavonian battlefront where he lost his young life.

He told Dad one day that he could not sit at home as young men were being called to defend Croatia. It was his decision and we let him go. We visited him the next day and said goodbye without thinking we would never see each other again. I just kissed him gently, he was so beautiful to me at that moment.

Olga Papac

Papac was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major and his mother Olga, who went through all the prisoner exchanges, including the last one in 1992 with Krešimir’s photo in hand is still searching for him.

I believe my son is alive. At the very beginning, I looked carefully at each Croatian soldier and studied how much he had similarities with Krešimir’s facial features and behaviour. I don’t do that anymore. I always live in the present  even though we still have one foot in 1991. Hope is great, the last one is dying but I can’t do anything at the moment. As a child I was left without a father, I waited for him and never met him. I got married. Now unfortunately, I wait for my son and do not know if I will ever see him. Only the dear Lord himself knows what will happen.

Olga Papac

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