Tomislav Brstilo

Sep 4, 1972 - Jan 31, 1992(19)

Istrian Rambo, guardian of the Homeland

All that was left was bloody snow and blackened trees...

The war claimed many young lives. One of the tragic stories from the Homeland War is the story of Tomislav Brstila. A young and promising eighteen-year-old determined to defend his country from aggression. In the early nineties, he served his military service in the JNA. Seeing that a massacre was about to take place in the country, Tomislav escaped from the Zagreb Maršalka where he was housed. He came to defend his Istria. He applied to the 119th Brigade of the Croatian Army. He was the youngest member of the 3rd company, one of the non-commissioned officers.

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Before the unfortunate war, he attended the mathematics high school in Rovinj, and then graphic design in Pula. They remember him as a bright, tall and thin, but handsome young man. Due to his exceptional determination and professionalism, his colleagues nicknamed him Rambo. He was the only one of the young assistants who decided to go to the Lika battlefield.

The members of the 119th brigade gathered in the Kažela and Valsaline motor camp. On a January night, a convoy of vehicles quietly left Pula for Lika. They arrived at the Lika battlefield a day later. The brigade was sent around Brinje and Letinac and occupied a defensive position on the stretch of Glavaca - Dabar. The next day, early in the morning, members of the 3rd Company were ordered to take over the front line from the Rijeka 111th Infantry Brigade. Tomislav was assigned to guard duty, which spared him from going to positions. But a determined and professional young man made a direct request to the platoon commander that he wanted to go to the first line of defense. Tomislav and his comrades were riding in a column consisting of three trucks and an all-terrain vehicle. On the way to the position, they encountered an enemy ambush.

Tomislav sat in the first place until he got out of the vehicle. In a long turn, the truck ran into an anti-tank mine. She blew up the cabin, and the truck flew into the air. Fortunately, the explosion caused the truck to tilt to the right and fall on its side. If he had leaned to the other side where the attackers were, all the soldiers would have died. After the explosion, the soldiers in the truck reacted quickly. They cut the tarpaulin and jumped out. Then the enemy fire started. Tomislav was the first to be hit by the burst. The shooting caused him fatal injuries, and he was wounded in the head and neck. He died on the spot.

For his bravery, Tomislav was awarded the Order of Zrinski and Frankopan, and he was posthumously awarded the rank of officer lieutenant of the Croatian Army. In Lika, in Zabari, not far from the place where he died, a sculpture made of Istrian, Kanfanar stone was erected in memory of this tragic event.

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