True Warrior Blood, Sladjana Stankovic.
One of the streets in Nis (Southern Serbia) will bear the name Sladjana Stankovic (34), who volunteered to go to war in Kosovo, where she died June 5, 1999.
Slađanas life story, according to her sister, Vesna, is a testimony of love, courage and a kind of humanity only a few people know how to show, because this girl took up arms on the first day of the war, while many people from Nis were hiding in fear of mobilization.
Albanian doctor did not want to receive her
- Stankovic have always sent someone from their family in all the wars, but Sladjana was the first girl who took up arms. Nobody knew what was in her head until March 24 when she entered the house in uniform and said, "I'm going to war." My father tried to prevent her, he told her: "Sladjana, do you know what war is, it is not a cafè, there are people killed," but Sladjana was firm in her decision. We didn’t hear anything from her until a month later, she said she has good news, married a Russian Yuri Osipovski volunteer, in the monastery of the Holy Archangels in Prizren.
Her godfather was her chief Bozidar Delic - says Slađanas sister Vesna Stankovic, and continues: She had promised to be home with her husband June 2, but I found out later that she replaced her leave with some other fighter.
The 5th June she was with her ambulance pulling out the wounded near the village Planeja, when a mortar shell fired from the territory of Albania struck the ambulance. As I heard later, she was seriously wounded, but alive. Russians carried her to the hospital in Prizren, and it is said that an Albanian doctor did not want to accept her. Maybe she might still be alive if she had been cared for in time.
Family of the heroine was not informed of the death, instead the family found out incidentally. One of her friends called us to ask when she will be buried. We were shocked, we went immediately to the the army to ask what happened to her. They told us it was a mistake, to go home and they will find out where she is and let us know. On our way back home we were caught up by army officials who told us that she was brought in a military hospital, and we're needed to identify her .
She says the hardest thing was when she saw three pairs of military boots discarded in the yard, one of which was Sladjanas.
Her body was handed over to us in a metal coffin. At the funeral Yuri her husband came and I do not know how many Russians, the whole yard was full of their vehicles. Yuri was completely crushed, he went into town and bought her a pink wedding dress, which she adored and a wreath. All this is put into her coffin. He was with us until we gave her the six-month memorial service, and then he was gone, I heard that he now works with an international organization in Kosovo - says the grieving sister.
Commenting on the decision to have a street in Nis called the name of her sister, Vesna says that she is proud of that, but that her sister deserved more. The proposal to do this came from the Association of Veterans. For three years we collected money to erect a monument to her, and we did that without any help. Sladjana has given this country the most valuable thing she had and she deserves to be remembered by more then only us. Especially those who stayed here while she was fighting for them - says Vesna
Anticipated her own death
After Slađanas death, the family found her diary in which she wrote that she know that from Kosovo she will not come back alive. Her friends told us that she was fearless, and that at the time of the most fierce fights, she would brake through and bring food and medicine to the soldiers. And that’s how she died, braking through trying to help the wounded – Says Vesna, Sladjanas sister.
Out of broken heart Slađjanas father soon died. The memory of her besides Vesna is kept only by her mother, who lives in the village Prva Kutina in the house from which Sladjana went to war. My mother refuses to return to Nis. She surrounded herself with pictures and Slađanas things, because regardless of the many years since her death, she can not get over the fact - says Vesna.