Darko Pantlik, hero of the Homeland War was killed in action on 9 December 1991.
Pantlik was born in Zagreb on 8 April 1965 and grew up in Kloštar Ivanić with his parents Dragutin and Mara and his older sister Paulina. His father was a clerk and his mother a cook. After finishing primary school in Ivanić-Grad, Pantlik attended “Ruđer Bošković” High School in Zagreb. He was an electrician by profession and worked at the INA Croatian Oil Company. He is remembered as a cheerful, communicative and open person who loved to play basketball in his spare time. Pantlik and his wife married before the outbreak of war and they had a daughter Ivana in 1990.
As a volunteer, Pantlik went to war to defend Croatia in the summer of 1991 and was a member of the 1st Battalion “Black Mambas” of the 2nd A “Thunder” Brigade of the Croatian National Guard with which he saw heavy fighting in the Banovina region in the autumn of 1991. The most prominent was the heroic Battle of Novi Farkašić in which the “Black Mambas” destroyed the hopes of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) and the rebel Serbs to break through that area and use it to launch an attack on Zagreb. After the great victory of the Croatian forces at Novi Farkašić, journalist Tihomir Ladišić and a team from Croatian State Television arrived in the area and recorded the following statement by Pantlik that was broadcast throughout Croatia:
Upon their arrival during the first attack, they held positions in Farkašić but were repelled and our forces took those places. It is firmly in our hands now… We need to retake everything that has been lost, completely clear Banija of all of them and place Croatia back in our hands. We have this prominent section of land on this side of the Kupa River but it is only one section. It is now in our hands and we are moving forward.
The objective in the battles mentioned by Pantlik was to liberate territory between Petrinja and Glina and enter the depths of the “Glina pocket”. Unfortunately, in the village of Međurače during the operation Darko Pantlik was killed by a mortar shell from positions under control of the YPA and rebel Serb. His comrades did not stop and realized Pantlik’s dream of a free Croatia. One of them, Hrvoje “Hrki” Horvat dedicated the song “My Hero” to him, which he wrote on behalf of Pantlik’s wife Sanja:
You loved our Croatia with all your heart
that you would not allow it to be conquered by evil enemies,
you proudly put on the camouflage uniform
and departed for the bloody and hellish field of battle.
With his “Thunder” brothers
he heroically stood in the path of the enemies
so that they do not to conquer our homeland,
you always said it was our sacred duty.
He fought for his beloved homeland with all his heart,
you loved her and me more than anything in the world.
We had the same desires and dreamed the same dream
that a Croat be free in his homeland.
Unfortunately, on that cold 9th of December
your heart stopped beating,
you forever closed your beautiful eyes,
gave your young life to the beloved homeland.
The years go by and my aching soul suffers
because you are not here, my beloved hero.
You are not here, but remain in my thoughts every day
in every beat of my wounded heart.
Darko, my dearest, my hero
rest in peace, in the valley of paradise
with the defenders, your brothers;
know that you are forever in my heart!
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.