Lado Lekčević of Grubišno Polje and hero of Croatia’s Homeland War was killed in the battle for Bosanska Posavina on this day in 1992.
Lekčević was born on February 18, 1965 in Virovitica, Croatia. Upon completion of primary and secondary school in Grubišno Polje, his employment brought him to Zagreb. After war broke out in Croatia, Lekčević returned to his hometown, joined the 77th Independent Grubišno Polje Battalion and became a member of the “Roulettes” reconnaissance platoon established within that unit. Their first major task was to attack a guidance system in the nearby village of Velika Barna used by the Yugoslav People’s Army to direct planes in attacks throughout the Grubišno Polje municipality. At the end of September in 1991 the “Roulettes” reached their objective as Lekčević along with two other comrades sabotaged the antenna system with explosives. The mission succeeded and significantly raised the morale of the defenders of Grubišno Polje.
Lekčević and his reconnaissance group were a valuable source of information on the number and deployment of the surrounding enemy forces and this was crucial to the preparation of Operation “SWATH 10” that liberated Serb-occupied areas of Bilogora in the autumn of 1991. The “Roulettes” were important in regaining Velika Barna and Velika Peratovica in that attack and this was followed by their participation in the liberation of Bastajske Brđane in the Daruvar municipality. In December of 1991, they were involved the difficult battle for Pakrac in which Lekčević and his comrades were ambushed as recalled by Ljudevit Sakal in Davor Runtić’s book “Heroes of the Homeland War”:
Lado shows excellent reflexes and reacts with lightning speed, the result of which was the liquidation of the Chetniks who organized the ambush.
Runtić also wrote how after war began in the Bosanska Posavina region, Lado Lekčević and a group of volunteers went to help Croats and Muslims defend their homes from Serbian aggression:
They went to Slavonski Brod and then to Bosanski Brod, Korače and Sijekovac; exercising caution as they familiarized themselves with the area and what was going on. It was mid-August, a true summer with warm days, light morning mists and dew. They were staying in a house and awoke early on 15 August, made some coffee and were about to drink it on the porch. The first shell fired from a nearby hill struck the upper porch above their heads, proving to be fatal for Lada Lekčević and two other Croatian defenders whose names we unfortunately did not know. The next day, news of the death of this hero of the Homeland War spread through Grubišno Polje. His fiancée could not bear it and one death unfortunately caused another. Jasna Jelinek, who followed our defenders with her camera and recorded and preserved for posterity the experiences of people and events from that time, shot herself in the head. At the very end, Ljudevit Sakal said:
The Grubišno Polje region has never seen such a funeral. This sad story remains with those of us who stayed, to remember Lada Lekčević, the brave young man with a boyish face, a sly smile, lively eyes behind his glasses and who wore a beret. We also remember the eternal and unfulfilled love of two young people.
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.