The only Hero of the Soviet Union living in the United States has died at age 94.
Stepan Borozenets, born in what was then the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan in 1922, flew more than 100 missions during World War II, or, as it is known in Russia, the Great Patriotic War.
Flying an Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik, a ground-attack aircraft, he was shot down at least once and wounded on at least two different occasions.
Borozenets is credited with destroying great quantities of enemy equipment, as his unit destroyed tanks, locomotives, rail cars and vehicles, suppressed fire from dozens of antiaircraft and field artillery batteries, demolished warehouses and fuel and ammo dumps, and was credited with killing more than 1,200 Germans.
He was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on Aug. 18, 1945, for “exemplary performance of combat missions and for their heroism and courage,” according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Borozenets came to the US in 1995 for medical treatment and opted to remain in the States afterward, settling in Chicago, where he died this past Friday.
Despite spending more than 20 years in the US, Borozenets retained his Russian citizenship, according to TASS.
Borozenets was called up by the Red Army in April 1941, shortly before the Nazis began Operation Barbarossa – their invasion of the Soviet Union. After graduating from flight school, he was sent to the 2nd Belorussian Front in the fall of 1943.
The following July, Borozenets’ plane was shot down, but he managed to land the burning aircraft despite suffering serious injuries. In February 1945, while over Poland returning from a combat sortie, Borozenets was attacked by a group of German fighters and again wounded, but later returned to service.
Among other honors Borozenets received was the medal for the Capture of Königsberg, in recognition of participation in the battle to capture the East Prussian city of Königsberg from the Nazis in 1945.
Borozenets remained in the military service after the war, rising to the rank of colonel.
The US-Canadian Association of Veterans of the Airborne Troops of the Former USSR Countries has begun collecting funds for the erection of a monument to Borozenets in Chicago.
(Top: Stepan Borozenets in recent years, in a uniform with his many decorations.)