Blago Zadro, Legendary Croatian Military Commander is Killed in Action

On 16 October 1991 Major General Blago Zadro, one of the greatest heroes of the Homeland War was killed in action during the defense of Borovo Naselje and the city of Vukovar.

Blago Zadro was born on 31 March 1944 in the village of Ledinci (Donji Mamići) near Grude in Herzegovina. At ten years of age, his family moved to Borovo Naselje where he finished school, found employment at the “Borovo” factory and started a family. With the beginning of democratic changes in the Republic of Croatia, Zadro became actively involved in the political life of the region and became the first vice president of the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) in Vukovar.

Blago Zadro and his son Robert

Due to his exceptional organizational skills and courage, Zadro took command of the defense of Borovo Naselje after the Battle of Vukovar began. Even though he was not formally trained, Zadro proved to be an excellent military strategist as the commander of the 3rd Battalion of the legendary 204th Vukovar Brigade. He correctly anticipated that the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) and rebel Serb Chetnik troops would try to enter Borovo Naselje via Trpinjska Street and promptly organized a defense there. Under Zadro’s leadership, the YPA armoured force was repeatedly repelled and Trpinjska Street became known as the “Graveyard of Tanks” as dozens of destroyed tanks and armoured personnel carriers littered the road.

Photo by Mišo Lišanin

Zadro was brave and decisive, a commander who led his troops into battle until one fateful day when he did not return to base. He was killed in action after being cut down by a burst of enemy gunfire on Kupska Street not far from Trpinjska Street. That same day, Croatian soldier Zvonko Mlinarić was also killed when he tried to retrieve Zadro’s body as recalled by his comrade-in-arms Stipo Mlinarić:

Blago was dead in Kupska Street, hit by a machine gun. In order to reach his body, that machine gun had to be disabled. My friend Zvonko Mlinarić, who we called “Špeki” (eng. “Porky”) tried to do so and ran towards a concrete pigsty to take it out. However, that same machine gun got him… he ran to the wall and just fell and we somehow dragged him back. We managed to eliminate that machine gun but “Špeki” was killed. The man gave his life for the deceased Blago Zadro.

Following the peaceful reintegration of the eastern Slavonia region to Croatian government authority in 1998, the body of Blago Zadro was exhumed from a mass grave and reburied in the Memorial Cemetery for the Victims of the Homeland War in Vukovar. He rests there alongside his son Robert who broke out of besieged Vukovar in November 1991 and laid down his life in the defense of Kupres in Bosnia-Herzegovina the following year.

The Command and Staff School of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia was named in honour of Blago Zadro along with streets in Grude, Vukovar, Split and Zagreb (Sesvete).

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