The mystery of the two heroes

Hero of the Soviet Union Nikolai Chirtoca during the Great Patriotic War in the Il-2 has made 210 sorties, destroyed dozens of tanks, armored vehicles, vehicles with personnel and cargo, seven tanks with fuel, six anti-aircraft batteries and trains with ammunition. The aircraft shot down six enemy aircraft, including fighter FW-190 and ME-109. Nicholas Naumovic '93, and he remembers the details of front-line routine.
Text and photos 4. Source

A long conversation came to an end when the veteran pulled out a photo album. Talking about the people in the pictures, among others, he called Ivan Drachenko. I asked the veteran: "This is the pilot who lost his eye, but returned to aviation and has not only become a Hero of the Soviet Union, but also full of Knight of the Order of Glory?».
Nikolai N. answered in the affirmative. He said so:
- When John returned to his regiment after the hospital, he was the first conversation I discovered his secret. At first I did not believe it, but when I saw the prosthesis, said, "How are you going to fly?" And then he said that he changed his mind and survived in captivity. Ivan asked me to take to my slave, 'Nicholas, I have to fight. I have a huge bill to the enemy. And not only for the deceased father or his injury. I am for those who did not survive the camp and could not escape, revenge is necessary ... "I have promised to keep the secret of a friend and help him in every way.
Book Drachenko "On the Wings of Courage" read, but the names mentioned in her memory erased, and so came back and took it off the shelf. About Nicholas N. author wrote one of the first pages: "We Chirtoca Nicholas climbed the stairs of the Reichstag chipped, between the pillars, it is somewhat similar to the ridges of extinct dinosaurs. Everywhere traces of bullets and splinters deep strokes. On the teeth crunched unpleasantly heavy stone dust mist slowly settles on the chaotic heap of ruins. Columns in a continuous ligature inscriptions. They wrote everything that came to hand: ink, chalk, pencil, charcoal, blade knives, bayonets ... exchanged glances with Nicholas, also left their signatures on a gray granite columns one ».
... Senior Pilot 140 th Guards Attack Aviation Regiment Guard Lieutenant Drachenko the Kursk Bulge made 21 sorties, destroyed three tanks, 20 trucks with ammunition and manpower of the enemy, four anti-aircraft guns, the ammunition depot, a company of soldiers. He was awarded the Order of the Red Star.
His shot down August 14, 1943 in the Kharkov region. Three sixes Ihlow given the task: to strike the tank column. On the way to the train station Merefa storm troopers came under heavy fire anti-aircraft guns. But suddenly he stopped: from behind the clouds slipped two dozen Me-109. That ill-fated day has brought down 14 enemy aircraft. Not survived and Drachenko. This is how the book: "The explosion shook the car. Glancing at the dashboard - and hammer on it if someone walked. Stormtrooper every second "tyazhelel", and control it was becoming increasingly difficult. The height of the inexorable fall. Already clearly loomed horseshoe position anti-aircraft, machine gun nests, rows of trenches, barbed wire braided network. A road scurried Germans. It is necessary to pull away from them closer to the ravine. And suddenly there was a deafening crash, it was a feeling as if the car crashed into an invisible wall. The incredible force tore me from the rest, it seemed I was somewhere sank as in a bottomless pit. And there was no end to the fall ... When regained consciousness, as if in a fog he saw a gray-green figures, I heard someone else say. Plaine ... The thought struck, tied his hands, fettered the will ».

So the pilot turned out to be the enemy. A few days spent in the stuffy barracks, which penetrate through the walls screaming guards, sheepdogs growling moans beaten shots. Then, along with his other began to drive to work - digging a pit. Some were digging, others immediately threw it. And so in the morning until dark ...
One day he had a conversation with a German colonel. "While you were with us - without any introductions I began one - we learned everything. You are pilot of attack aircraft. A ground attack, as far as I know - the people brave. In the mouth they do not put a finger. Yes, and you have a car - mere devils. Schwarze Tod. However, our anti-aircraft gunners also good ... Bang-bang - and you're our guest ... »
Suddenly, everything changed for the pilot: a private room, a bed with clean sheets and a soft blanket, a fresh bandage on his head, and in the House to frequent neighbor of other House, who introduced himself as an officer-tanker. From him Drachenko and learned Germans began to experience a shortage of flight personnel and in accordance with the orders of Hitler's attempt to collect in special camps prisoners pilots with the aim to use them on its side under the banner of "Russian aviation". A neighbor tried to persuade: "I agree - will live in style." He showed magazines, where the photographs Vlasov ate "earthly delights." He came to the House and the German colonel: "This document, sign it - and your life will change all at once. Gain freedom and a new beautiful car. Are you going to fly with our best aces and just as they were getting Reichsmark. Many, many brands. And the woman you are - beautiful, gentle ... »
But all attempts to lure the Soviet ace proved unsuccessful. And when once again he emphatically said "No!", He made a shot, drugged and cut right eye. The enemies had hoped that the Soviet pilot never rise into the air.
Our troops are advancing rapidly, and the Germans in a hurry to get out of Poltava. In September night the prisoners were loaded into covered car and taken to the Kremenchug. About the camp it was known that there are cold winters and maimed thousands of prisoners of war. Also in the barracks, packed to the limit of people collapsed tiered bunks, and killed more than three hundred people.
Everyone understood that this last journey. Drachenko and another pilot on the road strangled sitting in the back of the guard. Five people managed to jump out on the run. Hungry, exhausted with sore wounds, they walked at night to the East, guided by the scattering of hazy stars. They picked up the scouts.
The hospital treated her and Ivan Drachenko inserted prosthesis. In the mirror he saw no difference between the two eyes, only slightly above the right eyelid omitted. "But what's next? Even in the infantry with one eye are not taken. Even to go to pick up some object becomes difficult. And how to fly, where the main control "device" is a good eye? As the saying goes, and in the way ordered the convoy. Only one road - the rear ... »
These thoughts do not give rest to the pilot. And when Professor Swerdlow said: "All the youth. Your flight career was over, and with it the need to accept ... ", he began to plead," But I'm healthy. I can see you from all angles, read the table from the top to the bottom line. You simply mistaken, professor, making this conclusion! Please write inquiry, which would mean that such a pilot is sent to his unit for further service. I promise you that anyone will: mechanic, stacker of parachutes, vooruzhentsem. Even water and firewood to the kitchen to carry agree only let in a part ».
And ... I persuaded professors to help nothing was said about the absence of his eyes: "Junior Lieutenant Drachenko? IG is sent to his unit for further service. " While parting the doctor said, "But keep in mind - to the aircraft does not come ...»
The pilot of the regiment returned home in March 1944.

Nicholas Naumovicha ask: "Why is Drachenko appealed to you?»
- We both graduated from the Tambov Military Pilot School, started to fly together on the "humpback" as they called IL-2, and after graduating junior lieutenants were in Wing, who led the battle of Kursk. At the time of Ivan the return of the regiment I had many young pilots put on the wing, so that the experience of such work was. But most importantly, perhaps - we tied good, sincere attitude. And I did everything to restore his lost skills. However, he warned that if the lost eye learn arrows, it is unlikely anyone will agree to fly with him. They work hard, and I really saw that with each passing day it becomes a machine all obedient. We had at first such example, the tactics, is not all clear. When Drachenko sat down, I went out to the landing "T" and conducted his landing. Some were perplexed, others sympathetic understanding man, they say, just out of the hospital, rusty steering technique. With Ivan, we staged violent "battle" to prove the superiority of piloting airplanes, trying to come to each other's tail. And it was not mere satisfaction of some of our eccentricities. The benefits are obvious: immediate action, response times have helped us at critical moments in a real fight. Later we worked with Ivan a difficult maneuver as "scissors". Its essence is this: a pair of stormtroopers running slightly staggered with respect to each other - leading slightly above the slave, began to be reversed. For example, if the slave is to the right rear, he passed the bottom of the left and right leading downward. Then again, but in reverse order. And because the maneuver was carried out with the bank, both attack aircraft at all times have seen each other's tails and securely covered them. And all this at a low altitude.
However, as noted Chirtoca, Drachenko was difficult without eyes, because in flight, he often opened the lantern. Comrades advised not brave. But it was not courage: he is better seen with an open canopy. "And over time, Ivan was the best we have reconnaissance aircraft. He knew the whole front. And attack aircraft has been excellent. The regimental commander sent him to the most difficult task ».
... April 6, 1944 at the time of departure to explore Drachenko was attacked by 5 fighter FW-190, but on a heavily damaged plane managed to reach the airfield and land. During brought valuable intelligence he was awarded the Order of Glory 3rd degree.
June 26, 1944 Guard Lieutenant Drachenko left led couples to explore the area of ​​Iasi. When a combat mission came into the bout with German fighters and repulsed all their attacks. Then he made a ground attack echelon at the railway station Tuzira and intelligence back to their base. He was awarded the Order of Glory 2nd degree.
7 October 1944 55 successful sorties Drachenko wrongly awarded the Order of Glory 2nd degree, and November 26, 1968 perenagrazhden Order of Glory 1st degree.
By August 1944, he made 100 sorties in the exploration, the destruction of manpower and equipment of the enemy. The 14 aircraft shot down five enemy aircraft. Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin and medal "Gold Star" Senior Lieutenant Ivan Grigorievich Drachenko conferred by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on 26 October 1944.
"Unmasked" Drachenko a few months before the victory. In the house, where rested pilots, Ivan began to wipe his face with a handkerchief ... and suddenly one of his colleagues backed as against evil forces. It turns out, wiping his face, eye prosthesis turned one hundred eighty degrees. Under eyebrow thorn could be seen clearly. In his book about this episode Ivan G. writes: "This was learned the regimental commander, Major Nesterenko.
- Is that a long time ago you?
- As the regiment arrived ...
- And summer?
- And fly ...
- And no one knew?
Nicholas Rose Chirtoca:
- Why is no one? I knew ... »
Reported the corps commander. Gen. Vasily Ryazanov has responded as follows: "Tomorrow Drachenko in flight are not issued. In the morning decide ... »
... The next day at the airfield regiment gathered a committee of the best pilots. Waited general. Soon after the plane struck Ryazanov. General shook hands with the pilots and said: "The Commission seems to be the whole assembly. Where do we start? With test piloting technique or conversation with medicine? »
Medic General said firmly: "We believe the worthless check. He can not fly. It is our strong view. "
Ryazanov squinted slyly, "So, you can not? And how did he fly? Exploration walk, the group led ... Well, let's start the test. Come on, Drachenko ».

Keeping in mind that the bottom of the flight monitors authoritative commission, Ivan tried to show everything you can. Left turn, right, fighting spread ... Steep dive and climb again. Then - a neat box over the airfield, and now "Ilyushin" clearly pritersya sign at the landing. Followed by a clear report of the commander of the corps: "Comrade General! Senior lieutenant Drachenko check flight ended. Let me get the notes. " He embraced the pilot, "What notes? Yes, if I were flying all so ... »
As written in the book of the pilot, "Now I did not have to constantly hide from his fellow" disease "hiding prosthesis night, turning in a handkerchief, put it under the pillow, turning away from the prying eyes ...»
By the end of the war Drachenko made 157 sorties. Destroyed or damaged 76 tanks and armored personnel carriers, six trains a large number of vehicles with cargo and manpower, trains with ammunition and food, brought down 18 bunkers, destroyed four bridges, burned on the ground nine enemy aircraft and shot down 24 aircraft fighting five aircraft. The war ended with the rank of captain.
By the way, Nicholas himself Chirtoca received the Gold Star of the Hero later than his talented pupil - 27 June 1945. As stated in the decree, "for exemplary performance of command assignments for the destruction of manpower and equipment of the enemy and for displaying courage and heroism».
Last sortie Nikolai N. did MAY 10: Group of Czechoslovakia in the south of the German fascist troops under the command of Field Marshal Schoerner tried to break through to the west to surrender to our allies. The regiment announced the alarm. Chirtoca was ordered to lead a group of six IL-2 and the task: to bomb assault against the enemy troops on the west bank of the river Elbe. Before there were the battle of Berlin, where our stormtroopers had to hit the streets and even private homes. Chirtoca led groups Ihlow at destroying artillery and mortar batteries of the enemy in the south-western outskirts of the city. Blows were accurate sniper. "Never in the difficult situation we do not hit your - said Nikolai N.. - The maps Berlin looked huge black octopus and the octopus squirming, writhing and stinging. I did not want to die, but his hour struck, and he gave up the ghost, bleeding. Berlin was burning, and smoke sometimes up to a height of one and a half kilometers, which greatly impairs visibility. Streets were dead and deserted. We have experienced those days, the best happy hours in our lives. Every soul is jubilant: finally finish off the fascist beast in his lair ... »
It is noteworthy that the fate of Nicholas Naumovicha closely connected with the family of another battle each other - George Markushina.
- This is one of the biggest losses for me. He died in the skies over Poland in the twenties. Fearless ace in the sky, a talented musician on the ground. When Jura in between departures took up the guitar, from the audience there was no release. How much talent buried in the ground war! Another school of pilots in Tambov, we exchanged addresses. As the saying goes, just fire. And when I came to Moscow to take part in the Victory Parade, could not go to the home of the Jura, at the Novo-Basmannaya Street. There I was looking forward to his parents, sister and friends. Sister of the Jura, a student at the Moscow Aviation Institute Markushina Rose, the future became my wife. And for many years, we're going with it through life together ...
Both veteran - and Drachenko and Chirtoca - after the war is no longer flying. The road to heaven closed doctors. Ivan G. entered the Air Force Academy, but in 1947 for health reasons was discharged with the rank of captain. In 1953 he graduated from the Kiev State University, followed by graduate school. He worked as director of the school, then deputy director of the Palace of Culture in Kiev.
Nikolai N., after graduating from the Air Force Academy, served in the Air Force chief of department GKNII tactical test aircraft, but the sky soared others. Later he was transferred to the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff, where more than 20 years, he had to deal with domestic equipment of the Armed Forces of nuclear weapons. Since 1976 - in retirement.
Famous Aces Chirtoca Drachenko and friends to the death of Ivan G. in 1994.

Author: Vladimir GONDUSOV



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