The Death of Toni Višnjić, War Hero

In October 1995, Croatian forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina launched “SOUTHERN MOVE”, the final liberation operation of the Homeland War. The objective of this operation was to capture Mrkonjić Grad and place Banja Luka within range of long-range artillery. After achieving their first goal on 9 October and entering Mrkonjić Grad, Croatian forces continued to advance towards Manjača from where they could control Banja Luka with artillery.

Croatian Army tanks in Sitnice

An elite unit of the 1st Croatian Guards Brigade participated in the operation and was tasked with advancing west of Mrkonjić Grad and cutting off all links between Čađavica and Banja Luka. They would then take advantage of favourable positions north of Čađavica to protect the left flank of the 4th Guard Brigade and other forces in the wider ​​Mrkonjić Grad area from a possible counterattack from Banja Luka. The 1st Croatian Guards Brigade was joined by the Special Police of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Anti-Armour Missile Group of the Split Military District and the Croatian Defense Council (CDC) mixed tank platoon in fulfilling their duties.

All goals were achieved by 11 October 1995 and a line of defense had been established across all positions.  At approximately 12:40 PM that same day, enemy forces opened fire on positions of the Zdruga Artillery and Missile Battalion at the village of Sitnica on the slopes of Manjača Mountain with a 128 mm multi-barrel rocket launcher. Six Croatian soldiers were wounded and war hero Toni Višnjić was killed.

Toni was an exceptional young man. He was killed literally on the front line. We pursued the enemy forces who subsequently reported our positions to their artillery. Suddenly we were showered by their M-77 Oganj multi-barrel rocket launcher. Unfortunately, Toni was killed while Marijan Bišćan and I were seriously injured. Marijan passed away a couple of years ago and I am still struggling with the consequences as a complete war invalid. I suffered wounds to my left leg below the knee, deep muscle injuries and abdomen. In particular, the explosion caused complications with my intestines which almost cost me my life.

Jure Planinić, 1st Croatian Guards Brigade
Toni Višnjić

Toni Višnjić was born on 18 December 1970 in Šibenik where he finished high school and then enrolled to study road traffic at university in Sarajevo. At the beginning of the Homeland War, he left his studies and returned to his hometown where he voluntarily joined the 1st A Company of the 113th Šibenik Brigade of the National Guard in July 1991. After gaining combat experience on the frontlines at Šibenik, Vodice, Skradin, Drniš and Zadar Višnjić joined the newly established 8th Light Assault Brigade of the Croatian Army Military Police in 1993.

The ongoing evolution of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia in 1994 saw the 8th Light Assault Brigade of the Military Police absorbed into the new unit 1st Croatian Guards Brigade of which Toni Višnjić was also a member. He was buried in Danilo Biranj near Šibenik. Višnjić was posthumously given the rank of Captain and was awarded the Order of Nikola Šubić Zrinski; Order of Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan; the Homeland War Medal; “FLASH”, “SUMMER ’95”, and “STORM” medals as well as a medal for exceptional military service.

Toni Višnjić’s grave

Sources
Literature
Monograph 1. hrvatski gardijski zdrug, Zagreb: Ministarstvo obrane Republike Hrvatske, Glavni stožer Oružanih snaga RH, 2011

Testimonials
Oral testimony of Jure Planinić, collected on October 8, 2020.

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