18 years ago, he gave his life for his country, making sure that a younger man did not have to do it.

Yugoslav Army Air Force pilot Colonel Milenko Pavlovic – whose MiG-29 flew without a working radar – was shot down above his hometown of Valjevo in western Serbia by NATO warplanes waging their 78-day war against the country – pulled a younger colleague out of the plane’s cockpit and, taking his place, said: “You damn kid, you won’t die – I will.”

Pavlovic’s plane was shot down on May 4, 1999. The pilot left behind a wife and two sons.

Residents of Valjevo, and nearby Osecina and Gornje Crniljevo, remember their hero each year on the anniversary of his death.

eduTV video tribute, in Serbian:

B92