“When my father was mobilized, my mother stayed because she did not want to leave him,” says Milica, who was at the time in the refugee columns.
Milica Juric, who as a child found herself in a refugee column, recalled Operation Storm and the tragedy that struck her family. Juric spoke during a commemoration held at the Krusedol Monastery in Serbia.
“I am Milica Juric, born Mihic, a child of Krajisnik parents, from the village of Donji Vaganac near Plitvice Lakes (in Croatia). I’m a refugee. And I’m proud of that.”
“They killed my uncle in the war,” she continued. “We left our hometown. It was not clear to me why I was leaving my mom and dad. On August 4, 1995, I did not understand what was happening. I saw the column, the sadness and the pain. Our eyes searched for our father and mother and even though we did not see them, mother was in the column, and father remained to defend the village.”
When her father was mobilized, she said her mother stayed because she did not want to leave him.
“For 4 years she went to bed with a bomb, she kept it under her pillow. My father told her, ‘If they come, save yourself,” Juric said in her address at Krusedol.
She said that she came to Serbia in 1991 with her brother, sister, grandmother and grandfather, while her parents stayed in Lika, Croatia, to guard their home and Krajina. They were the last to leave the village – “Dad sent mom with neighbors, and he stayed.”
“Mom arrived in Banja Luka on a tractor trailer, and after two days, father came as well,” Milica recalled.
The family has been back to Croatia since, she said – but it was not the same as before the war. Juric said that she found happiness in Serbia, but “can never forget her Lika.”
According to the data of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees, 250,000 Serbs were expelled from Republika Srpska Krajina (Serb Republic of Krajina, RSK) during Croatia’s combined military and police operation known as “Storm” that started on August 4, 1995.
1,856 Serbs were killed and 836 were reported missing from the attack.