On this day in 1991, members of the Croatian Defense Forces (CDF) joined in the defense of Vukovar.
A number of brave soldiers gathered in Nuštar on 26 September and headed for Vukovar in the evening. The arrival of a large group of Croatian soldiers did not go unnoticed by the aggressor and CDF members were given a fiery welcome with mortar shelling in the village of Bogdanovci. They remained in the village until morning when the attack subsided guides arrived from Vukovar to lead them into town via the “corn road” which was the only possible way to enter the city.
After a short rest, the soldiers assembled before Mile “The Hawk” Dedaković, commander of the defense of Vukovar. Dedaković informed them of the situation in the city and that they were now under the command of the newly established 204th Brigade of the Croatian National Guard (CNG). The CDF members were assigned to defend the Sajmište area of the city which turned out to be the most difficult battlefield prior to the fall of Vukovar. A total of 58 CDF members took part in the Battle of Vukovar, 53 of which arrived with the first group and 5 others that joined their comrades on 30 September. A few days later, a group of CDF members were ordered to consolidate defensive positions in the important village of Bogdanovci, also known as the “Gateway to Vukovar”.
Damir Markuš Kutina recalled his arrival in Vukovar on this day in 1991 in his book “58 – HOS in the Defense of Vukovar and Bogdanovci”:
We set off from Nuštar in the early hours of the morning and headed towards Marinci, Bogdanovci and Vukovar. I will always remember that dark night. Sometime around 2:00 AM, as a light autumn drizzle fell, our convoy turned off all its lights and moved from the asphalt road onto a path in a field. It was the only entrance and exit for the field and the road was so muddy that we had to get out of our vehicles and push them. When someone then shouted that the guide had disappeared, in fact both guides, I immediately thought of an ambush and that we were betrayed. I held my rifle firmly and was ready. Detonations could be heard in the distance but close enough to know that we were already near the frontlines. After all, that is what we wanted. Suddenly there was a noise coming from Vukovar. We all thought it was a tank and took shelter. The noise was getting louder and louder and we were waiting to open fire on a tank. However, a tractor came along. I thought of how it never occurred to me that it was a tractor and how no one recognized that it was the sound of a tractor and not a tank. Apparently, the stress was taking its toll on us. It was a local man who came to help us pull the vehicles out of the mud so we could continue towards Bogdanovci. And we did so. As soon as we entered the “T” shaped village of Bogdanovci, the shelling began. We jumped out to take shelter between and inside houses. When the attack ended, we agreed on how to reach our destination Vukovar. We decided to spend the night and head towards town in the morning. One local defender showed us the remains of a cluster bomb, that is, its skeleton… we set off for the city at the crack of dawn and amidst the corn we saw the burnt wrecks of vehicles, most of which were heading towards Vukovar. It was a very powerful image and I asked myself if the same fate would befall us, because it would be difficult to defend ourselves on that corn road. Nevertheless, we arrived in the city without any shots fired or problems whatsoever.
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 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.