Author`s name Olga Savka

Soviet Pilot's Heroic Deeds Remained Unrewarded

Many WWII heroes did not get the decorations they deserved
The legendary person Ivan Rubtsov lives in the Moscow region, in the town of Odintsov. He was born in Leo Tolstoy's homeland, in the town of Uzlovaya. It used to be just a station, in which there was a small settlement.

Ivan studied there. In December of 1940, he entered the Stalingrad military academy at the age of 18. Stalingrad was in danger in summer, and the school was moved to the republic of Kazakhstan, to the city of Kustanai. The students were not happy about that: the front was getting closer to them, but they had to leave. The Fascists were on the offensive, but the students continued with their studies, learning how to fly on farming planes. Ivan convinced three other students to quit the school and escape to the front.

The young men developed a special route for their daring adventure in order not to let anyone catch them. They traveled to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, via Tashkent, Krasnovodsk and Baku. The students anticipated everything: if a patrol stopped them on their way, they always said that they were moving straight to the front, which sounded absolutely convincing: Patrols arrested those who tried to get to the rear. The men eventually succeeded: one fine day they showed up at a fighter aviation regiment. The regiment was experiencing a lack of pilots, so Ivan and his friends came right on time.

In contrast to the military school, Ivan started real battle flights without any training. At first he flew with an instructor, but then he did it by himself. Needless to say, he did not fly on farming planes, but on real pursuit planes. Ivan Rubtsov became a fighter pilot very quickly, although he did not graduate from the aviation school.

The squadron in which Ivan served had a mission to protect Il-2 battleplanes. Il-2 planes terrorized the Fascists; Nazi pilots called these jets "black death" and "flying tanks." If Fascist pilots destroyed even one Il-2 battleplane, a mission was considered unfulfilled, which resulted in adequate consequences after the battle was over. Back in the WWII years, military men said that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief personally counted new Il planes for Soviet troops. He also had a record of the downed planes too, demanding strict reports from aviation commanders for every destroyed battleplane.

Air cover was strictly forbidden in battling Fascist pursuit planes if they did not attack Soviet battleplanes. When the Fascists attacked, battles in the sky were brutal. Ivan Rubtsov's regiment lost three groups of pilots during the battles in the Northern Caucasus, in the Kuban region and in the Crimea. Such considerable losses occurred on account of poor battle interaction between battleplanes and pursuit planes at repulsing the Fascists' attacks. When protecting battleplanes, Soviet pursuit planes often let the enemy have the initiative.

There were pilots who did not want to follow these tactics. Ivan Rubtsov was one of them. He was the first pilot to master aerobatics at very low altitudes, which was actually forbidden. Ivan Rubtsov started fighting Fascists very low above the ground. Ivan was successful with his tactics even if the enemy was greater in number.

Archives have preserved an interesting document - a report of the commander of a regiment that was prepared for the commander of a division. Major Romantsov reported hooligan actions that lieutenant Ivan Rubtsov performed during his flights. The major reported that Rubtsov performed aerobatic maneuvers at very low altitudes. Major Romantsov wanted to dismiss the lieutenant from his position of fighter pilot. However, the division commander, as well as the commander of the 4th Aviation Army, rejected the major's request. On the contrary, the commanders thought that pilot Rubtsov wanted to master the art of low altitude aerobatics. Furthermore, it was ordered to teach fighter pilots how to fly and fight at an altitude of 25-30 meters.

As a result, Lieutenant Rubtsov was given a higher rank - deputy of the aviation training regiment commander. Soon after, pilot Rubtsov became a famous person - people started talking about him in the army, reporters wrote articles about him in newspapers and fighter pilots dreamed of flying with Ivan Rubtsov.

Ivan Rubtsov made up to six sorties every day back then. Throughout the whole war the Lieutenant performed 331 sorties to protect battleplanes and 397 battle sorties. He took part in 75 battles in the air, and personally downed 12 Fascist planes. All of his achievements and deeds were documented in military archives.
Ivan Rubtsov was nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union twice. However, the title was not awarded to the pilot, although he fully deserved it.

This was not a rare thing to have happen, really. Pilot Boris Yermilin was the best fighter pilot on the Stalingrad Front. He downed a lot of planes - a deed that was worthy of two Hero Stars. However, he did not receive the decoration. Division Commander Nikolay Lyaschenko had been through the whole war - from the very beginning till the very end. His division fought on the outskirts of Leningrad and liberated Poland and the Baltic republics. (Lyaschenko once dismissed Stalin's favorite L. Mekhlis, which was the reason why no decorations were awarded to the division commander.)

It would be fair to retrieve justice with a presidential order for Retired Colonel Ivan Rubtsov. He earned the Golden Star of Russia's Hero in the war, and this is the decoration that Rubtsov deserves.

A special committee has been trying to make veteran’s organizations stop their activities in Russia. In February of 1997, it occurred to the committee to stop awarding veterans for their accomplishments during WWII. The motive of was simple: all military jubilee dates were passed, and veterans had been awarded. However, those were only jubilee decorations. It looks like the state wants people, young people first and foremost, to forget the Great Patriotic War. School textbooks on history contain just a couple of pages about WWII, and they mention only two generals - Zhukov and Vlasov. This is very shameful. No one has a right to strike heroes' names from the national memory. Russians will always remember their heroes, for it is an absolute shame to forget them. It is impossible to forget the horror of the most horrible war in history.


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