On 23 December 1992, the 7th Guard “Puma” Brigade of the Croatian Army was established in the town of Varaždin.
The “Pumas” were formed by members of the 5th Battalion of the 1st Guard “Tiger” Brigade whose former commander Ivan Korade was appointed the first commander of the “Pumas”. Although the 7th Guard Brigade was comprised of soldiers from all parts of Croatia, the majority of the “Pumas” were from northwestern Croatia. With the many difficult tasks it completed in the field, the 7th Guard Brigade established itself as one of the most successful units of the Croatian Army in the Homeland War.
From February to October 1993, part of the brigade participated in the defense of Generalski Stol on the Karlovac battlefront while another group was assigned to defend the area between Stankovci and Novigrad in the Zadar-Šibenik hinterland. It was there that the “Pumas” suffered their first losses, 11 dead, during the battle of the village of Drače. From June 1993 onwards, the brigade’s primary responsibility was to defend the area of Ravni Kotari with the aim of preventing the penetration of enemy armoured units towards Pristeg and Bila Vlaka.
At the end of 1993, some of the “Pumas” went to central Bosnia where Muslim forces launched the so-called “Christmas offensive” in the Uskoplje area. In early 1994, the “Pumas” operated within the Split Military District and defended territory between the Krka Canyon and Velebit Mountain where they remained until year’s end. In December 1994, the brigade took part in Operation “WINTER 94” and made a significant contribution to the conquest of the heights on the Dinara mountain range which they managed to hold despite great hardship. It was there that the brigade’s war journey became intertwined with the 4th Guard Brigade of the Croatian Army as they served together in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on Operations “LEAP 1” and “SUMMER 95” in the build up to Operation “STORM”.
The crowning glory of the “Pumas’” service in the Homeland War was most certainly their entry into Knin during Operation “STORM” and hoisting of the Croatian flag on the Knin Fortress on 5 August 1995. After “STORM”, the 7th Guard Brigade also participated in Operations “MAESTRAL” and “SOUTHERN MOVE” and after 840 days of fighting within the Split Military District, the “Pumas” returned home to Varaždin where they received a magnificent welcome.
Approximately 4,500 soldiers passed through the unit during the course of the Homeland War, of which 90 were killed and one, Miroslav Harča is still listed as missing. We congratulate all those from Varaždin, Zagorje, Podravina, Međimurje and others who proudly wore the uniform of the 7th Guard “Puma” Brigade.
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.