Pentagon hosts display unveiling ceremony honoring Operation Allied Force 20th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria H. Taylor
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and his wife, Mrs. Dawn Goldfein, hosted an unveiling ceremony of a newly created display at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., May 8.

The display was created to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the successful Operation Allied Force and those involved.

“We aren’t only recognizing the anniversary of Operation Allied Force, the warriors who fought and the spouses who supported them,” said Gen. Goldfein. “We’re also reflecting on the human cost of war and honoring the memory of those that we lost.”

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Brig. Gen. Chris Short, Aircrew Crisis Task Force director, retired Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, former 31st Fighter Wing and 31st Expeditionary Wing commander, Aviano Air Base, Italy and Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo Vlora Çitaku, were alongside others in attendance during the event.

During the ceremony, honoree Muharren Alija recounted his memories of surviving an accidental bombing by NATO fighters on April 14, 1999. His 17-year-old sister, Filloreta, along with two uncles and several other innocent civilians all perished. Despite the tragedy, Alija was deeply grateful for all the U.S. and NATO had done to stop the terror in his home country.

“Our story is also living proof that when the civilized world decides to act and defend our shared values, life triumphs over death and good prevails over evil,” Çitaku said.

Operation Allied Force was initiated in 1999 by NATO in response to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians. Milosevic initiated a movement of ethnic violence in 1989 that had taken the lives of more than 250,000 people by 1995, and spurred Kosovar Albanians desire for independence.