The Death of war hero Željko Drmić

Most battlefronts throughout Croatia were turbulent on 31 December 1991 and the region of Banovina was no exception. Croatian forces came under artillery fire and an enemy grenade killed four members of the “Black Mambas” 1st Battalion, 2nd Guard Brigade of the Croatian Army near Glinska Poljana. Zoran Breškić, Željko Drmić and Ante Salapić died instantly while Božo Perković succumbed to severe wounds the next day.

Željko Drmić was born on 22 September 1968 in Prisoje near Tomislavgrad in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He grew up on the Herzegovinian karst with his parents Stipe and Luca and was the youngest of eight children. Drmić finished elementary school in Tomislavgrad, and chemistry high school in Zagreb where he was then employed as a chemical technician employed with “INA-OKI”. Drmić is remembered as temperamental, cheerful, funny but also very responsible and he was actively involved in soccer. He was married to Zdravka (née Pijević) from Metković and the couple lived in Novi Zagreb.

Drmić volunteered to serve in the Homeland War and was a member of the “Black Mambas” 1st Battalion, 2nd Guards Brigade. His wife Zdravka was two months pregnant when Drmić died and she volunteered to join the 2nd Guards Brigade. In July 1992, she gave birth to a daughter whom she named Željka.

Everyone tells me I’m just like my dad and I am. We have the same mouth, nose, eyes, eyebrows – a carbon copy. And the same athletic spirit. My dad was a soccer player until his patriotism led him to war. Yes, he died soon after he and mom married. I was in my mom’s belly so Dad never saw me. I know from my mother’s love stories that he was a wonderful, attentive person with a cheerful spirit. He loved to tell jokes and entertain everyone. Before the war, he worked as a chemical technician at the INA-OKI factory. I love going to the cemetery and tidying his gravesite. I wish he was still here to keep me company when I’m bored, to tell me jokes and entertain me like he did others. I wish he was here to cuddle with me and look after me when mom cannot. Most of all, I wish I could know what it is like to have a dad…

Daughter Željka

Željko Drmić was buried in the Sveta Klara Cemetery and Ante Topić said farewell to him on behalf of the family with the following words:

Dear Željko, we are gathered here to bid you a final farewell. Those most closest to you, your friends and acquaintances came to say thank you and goodbye. Thank you for all the happy moments we spent with you, the handshakes, greetings, kisses and smiles… for all the presents and gifts you gave us, all the glasses we emptied together, the jokes that were told, successful dribbling and goals scored, for all the nights spent on battlefields throughout Croatia… thank you for all the shots fired at your and our enemy!
Your mother is crying today, your brothers and sisters, your widow and your unborn child, your friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Your and our Croatia is crying and these tears are an expression of our bond with you. Forgive us for crying… for not being brave, strong and proud like you but behind all the tears and pain we grow more brave and stronger because today you are in each of us and we will each hear a hero within who shouts: ‘Do you know why Croatian warriors are dying?’ They die for the dignity of their name and tribe, for the freedom of their Croatian people! Those from Prisoje, Duvno and Herzegovina are dying, Croats from all over the homeland are dying so that Croats can live a life worth living.

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