The gunner-radio operator with the IL-2, made 102 combat sorties
In the old photograph is still quite young guards senior sergeant Vitaly Nikolaevich Zhalnin. Picture taken January 25, 1944, when he was only 18 years old.
Vitaly fought as a gunner-radio operator on the Il-2 attack aircraft. In total, made 102 sorties. Just imagine - the average life of an attack pilot was several sorties, an arrow not covered with armor - and even less. And Zhalnin - 102 departures, for which he also shot down 5 German aircraft. And all with one pilot - captain A.E. Gurgenidze. That was such a well-coordinated crew.
Vitali was presented to the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union, but he was not assigned. The son of an enemy of the people, the submission was denied. Well, stayed intact. Yes, and other awards he had - the Order of the Red Banner, the Red Star, World War Two degrees and a medal. But he received the title of Hero only when the USSR collapsed. On the wartime idea, he received the title of Hero of Russia in 1996.
He died in 2000. To shame and regret in front of the veteran a few weeks before his death, his housing was robbed, stealing awards, including the Hero's Star. It is possible that it is precisely this that undermined the 75-year-old veteran.