The Death of Vlado Harmund, Homeland War Hero

On December 3, 1991, Homeland War hero Vlado Harmund died as a result of being wounded in action during Operation “PAPUK 91”.

Harmund was born in Vaška, a village near Suhopolje and grew up in Pčelić in the western Slavonia region of Croatia. After he completed high school, Harmund entered the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Zagreb but returned home to help his mother who was left alone following his father’s death. They had 50 acres of land and Harmund soon started an electrical business and employed several people. He and his wife Melita opened a café in Virovitica in the late 1980s and as they knew many people, Harmund became involved in the work of the Croatian Democratic Union once democratic changes took place and founded a party branch in Pčelić. The village had a significant number of Serbs who lived alongside Croats and Harmund tried to dissuade rebellion with partial success. Many Serbs did not join the armed uprising and remained living peacefully in their homes. Some even joined in the defense of Croatia.

Harmund participated in the blockade of the Virovitica barracks in January 1991 and as a founder of the 50th Independent Virovitica Battalion of the Croatian National Guard (CNG), he became actively involved in the defense of Croatia. He was with the battalion when it liberated Jasenaš, the first village freed in the Homeland War, on 3 September 1991. The 127th Brigade of the Croatian Army (CA) was soon established, which played a significant role in the liberation of Bilogora in Operation  “SWATH 10” and Papuk in Operation “PAPUK 91” and Harmund was a platoon commander in the 6th Suhopolje Company of the 1st Battalion of the 127th Brigade. His company held positions above Suhopolje on the Levinovac – Pivnica Slavonska – Mala Klisa axis. It was there, in the first days of Operation “PAPUK 91” that Harmund was seriously wounded:

He was an exceptional person and a top soldier who was always the first to go in and the last to come out when they were in the field. He was very special. I wasn’t present the morning he was killed but I heard that the boys were having breakfast when a heavy mortar attack began. It was common for them to hit us during breakfast or lunch. When the attack started, the boys retreated to the basement but Vlado was among the last ones outside and a grenade landed beside him. Although he had a helmet, a piece of shrapnel hit him in the head.

recalled Zvonko Kožnjak, then Deputy Commander of the 1st Battalion of the 127th Brigade, on 29 November 1991. Two other members of the 127th Brigade and two members of the volunteer company from Koprivnica were also wounded. Harmund was taken to the Virovitica Hospital with wounds all over his body but the head wound was most severe.

Harmund was transferred to the Rebro Clinical Hospital in Zagreb where he died on 3 December 1991. He was sent to his eternal rest on 6 December, what would have been his 35th birthday. Along with his wife Melita, Harmund left behind a twelve-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Melita Harmund has been the president of the Association of Widows of Croatian Homeland War Veterans in Virovitica for several years.

We mark the anniversaries of our husbands just as we do all important anniversaries from the Homeland War. We take care of our sick members, aiding in the employment of children of deceased Croatian war veterans and socialize as well. We attend annual bowling tournaments and were in Rijeka this year. People say that time heals all wounds… not a chance, that’s not true. For me, Vlado was the best man in the world.

Melita Harmund

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