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Architect of Daring World War II Rescue Dies: George Vujnovich, the World War II OSS agent who orchestrated Operation Halyard, the largest ever escape of American airmen from behind enemy lines, has died, according to press reports. He died on April 24 of natural causes at his home in New York City, reported the Associated Press on Wednesday (via the Detroit Free Press). He was 96. The Pittsburgh native, born to Serbian immigrants, devised a plan in 1944 to rescue hundreds of US airmen who bailed out over Serbia on bombing missions against the Axis-held Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Working with Serbian guerrilla fighter Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetniks, Vujnovich and his OSS team built a makeshift mountaintop airfield from which US cargo aircraft ferried some 512 airmen to freedom between August and December 1944, reported the Los Angeles Times. In October 2010, Vujnovich received a Bronze Star Medal for his heroic service.