May 20 marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of someone who has become not only one of the brightest symbols of courage, exemplary fulfillment of military duty, the invincible will of our people to victory in the Great Patriotic War, but also a living proof that human capabilities are truly endless ... If, of course, he is a real person ...
The ability to accomplish the incredible, the unthinkable, at the same time going beyond the limits of even what is commonly called a feat - this was precisely the "secret" of the Soviet, Russian warrior, allowing him to defeat any enemy. This is the main lesson that one of our greatest compatriots has shown to the whole world.
To the sky - and only to the sky
The name of Alexei Petrovich Maresyev, a fighter pilot who did not just heroically beat the Nazi invaders, but who did it, having lost both legs (he shot down more enemy planes after amputation and the return to service that followed the treatment than before), was known in the USSR to every boy ... Boris Polevoy's "The Story of a Real Man" dedicated to him was an integral part of the school curriculum and military-patriotic education. Alas, "perestroika" and the subsequent years of the country's and society's renunciation of their own great past cast a shadow of oblivion on this titanic figure in terms of its courage and heroism. Now we are collecting memory bit by bit, having lost it, we will lose everything ... Let's remember together.
This story should begin with the fact that Lesha Maresyev, in principle, could only dream of aviation. To say that his childhood was where, how savory is to say nothing. The head of the family, in which, in addition to Alexei, there were two more sons, a soldier of the First World War, the old wounds were taken to the grave when the boy was 3 years old. Mother, exhausted, worked as a cleaner. After grade 8 - "fabzavuch" and to the machine! What kind of planes ?! However, just then, in the 30s, the young Soviet country was torn into the sky. Among others, Lesha Maresyev tried to take off. However, documents sent over and over again to different aviation schools were returned with the mark “invalid”. Malaria suffered in childhood gave a complication in the form of tuberculosis, seemingly forever blocking the guy's path to his dream. And here is nothing of the kind! Maresyev realized that the path would be long and difficult, and ... moved along it, forgetting about the word "impossible." He worked, at the same time mastering the basics of science at the workers' faculty of the Moscow Aviation Institute and worked conscientiously - for the construction of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, as well as for other similar construction sites they did not send anyone (lazy people and hack-workers - for sure).
It was there, in the Far East, that Maresyev first sat at the helm of an airplane - in a local flying club. In 1937 he was drafted into the army - and there he managed to take another step towards his own dream, serving in the border squadron, where he was engaged in servicing the flight equipment... And in 1939, he nevertheless became a cadet of the Chita military school, and then the Bataysky aviation school! This is how Alexey Maresyev did the impossible for the first time. The Great Patriotic War found him all in the same Bataysk, where after receiving the first officer's "kubari" he was left as an instructor. Everything that Alexey did, he did not just conscientiously, but with maximum efficiency, so everything is natural here. He was also rushing to the front with such force that it was impossible to stop him. Already in July, Maresyev is in the army, since August he has been conducting air battles. He fights excellently - at the beginning of 1942, the young fighter was transferred from the South-Western Front to the North-Western Front and appointed a flight commander. One by one the German Junkers shot down by him are falling from the sky.
The trouble comes on April 5, 1942 - the Yakovlev Maresyev, who was covering our bombers, receives several bursts and begins to lose altitude. Below it is the "Demyansk Cauldron", in which the Red Army is trying to "put the squeeze" on the furiously resisting Fritzes. Objective: not to fall on enemy territory, not to be captured. Maresyev reaches the front line, but instead of a forced landing, a fall from a height of three dozen meters follows. Doom? Do not hurry! This is Maresyev. The blow, fortunately, does not fall on the ground, but on the branches of trees, but its strength is such that the strongest straps that hold the pilot in his seat break like rotten threads and he flies forward like a stone from a sling. "Nothing, the one who does not fly does not fall ..." - regaining consciousness, Maresyev gets up, and ... collapses into loose snow. Both legs are broken ...
The instinct of self-preservation, in a critical situation yelling: “Live! Survive at any cost! ”Is inherent in every person from birth. However, he pushes someone to cowardice and meanness, and he raises someone to the heights of fortitude. The second occurs when in a person, in addition to instincts and above them, Honor and Duty speak. Personally, I can't imagine how you can take even a step on broken legs. Maresyev was walking. He had to go out to his own! When his legs were swollen, he crawled. Moving in early spring through a dense forest is a "pleasure" ... The pilot - without food and water, "eating" moss, bark and cones, moved as usual for 18 days! Stop, freeze, die ... Why do you need this struggle, which is worse than death ?! He knew why. The village boys who found Maresyev were horrified by what they saw. This time he did the impossible again - he survived.
The pilot spent another week in the village of Plav in the Novgorod region. And then he was in the sky again - the plane was carrying the hero to Moscow to the hospital. “Why did you bring him ?! - the doctors were surprised. Sorry, but the guy is not a tenant ... Frostbite of the lower extremities "complete" with their fractures and the resulting gas gangrene - what is there to treat ?! " They were not fiends, insensitive and heartless, they were professionals and were eager to save someone who could still be saved. Maresyev was sentenced - a "gurney" with him stood under the doors of the morgue, so that later not to carry far. Professor Nikolai Terebinsky, who was passing by, "stumbled" over the gaze of a dying, but not begging for salvation, pilot. "Who is this? Oh, that's how !? What other morgue? Into his operating room, live! " Happening? I don’t think so. Higher powers sometimes really interfere in the fate of people like Alexey Maresyev. Perhaps, then, to find out - where is the limit of the impossible.
"This one, or what, legless ?!"
The hospital ward became Maresyev's new battlefield. Fight with yourself. Having cut off both shins, the professor saved his life, but deprived it of its meaning. A pilot without legs ... Yes, there is nothing to think about! There is no place for cripples in the sky, and neither in war. Think about it - how many people at that time would have been happy to hear from the medical board: "Fought back!" The front took human lives every day, hourly, every second, and in 1942 it was already obvious to everyone. Do you think there weren't those who were ready for anything not to end up in this fiery hell? There were, even as they were ... They deserted, by hook or by crook they got themselves a "reservation", bought fake "white tickets" - just not to get to the front line. And you are already a hero, the Motherland appreciated your last flight with the Order of the Red Banner, the honorary status of a front-line soldier and a wounded pension awaits you ... But Alexey only wanted one thing - to be at the helm of the fighter again. Send at least one fascist bastard to the ground, and there ... Yes, whatever! He simply burned out - and not so much from postoperative fever, but from the agonizing realization of his own inferiority and uselessness.
Perhaps for the first time in his life, a ruthless and implacable "impossible" stood in front of him. Fortunately, Maresyev was not alone in this battle. It is only the "helluva lot of clever" gentlemen liberals who have been trying for so many years to prove that the commissars in the Red Army were useless people, or even completely harmful. The pilot was rescued by the battalion commissar Semyon Vorobyov, who was lying with him on the next bed. (In any case, under this name this person is shown in the book of Maresyev Polevoy, who has not misinterpreted anything in the story). It was he, seeing what was happening with the guy, as if by chance slipped him an article about another pilot - Valerian Karpovich. He lost his leg in the First World War, but returned to duty. I didn’t read lectures or conduct political talks - I just showed the way.
"Fly on prostheses !? Really? But he could! Well, yes - on "whatnots" this has passed, but on a modern fighter !? " - all these torments were already only a "background" for the decision that was made by Alexey Maresyev. He will rise to the sky again! If someone has succeeded, he, a Soviet pilot, will all the more succeed. The matter remained with the "small" - to begin with, get on your feet and learn to walk. The first prostheses Maresyev received were akin to the stocks of a convict - it was possible to move on them only at the cost of incredible torment. No problem! Let's make others! Like this! One more step! And down with the stick - what is this fighter that hobbles with a stick like an old grandfather? We are Stalin's falcons and we will show everyone! He showed ...
The members of the medical commission, which had to listen carefully to the young hero, explain to him in detail why "not" and send him home, to the deep rear, expected anything, but not what they saw. “Is it he who is legless ?! No, is this exactly the same Maresyev? " - there was no limit to the amazement of the doctors, in front of whom the patient, who was sent to the morgue a year ago, famously danced the "lady" and the waltz. No, well, since she is dancing, there must be some special occasion here. So we will write down: "Suitable for all kinds of aviation." Having undergone retraining at the Ibresin flight school, Alexei Maresyev in June 1943, at his request, was sent to the active army. Nobody tried to resist his pressure. Of course, he missed Stalingrad, but managed to reach the Kursk Bulge. It was in the sky above it that he “flunked” his first Junkers. The first one is without legs. The command of the 65th Guards Fighter Regiment, in which he served, at first did not send Maresyev into battle. No, it flies, of course. But you understand ... Very soon the "fathers-commanders" were convinced that this "legless" would give odds to many healthy people in the sky.
On July 20, 1943, Alexei Maresyev, covering his fellow soldiers from the attack of much more numerous enemy forces, sent two German Focke-Wulfs to burn on the ground, thereby turning the tide of the battle and forcing the Fritzes to flee cowardly. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to him not for unthinkable flights without legs, but precisely for this battle and the rescue of comrades in a critical situation. The glory of the miracle pilot went first throughout the air army, which included the 65th Guards Army, and then far beyond its borders. In the unit, there was no overcrowding from war correspondents, who were in a hurry to tell the whole Soviet people about this hero. Among them was Boris Polevoy, who would later sing Maresyev's feat to the whole world. The Story of a Real Man was republished 80 times in the USSR in all the languages of its peoples, and four dozen times abroad. Based on her motives, not only a movie was created, but also an opera of the same name.
However, during the war, Maresyev himself scolded his own glory - because of it, in the spring of 1945, he was "strongly advised" to abandon combat missions (it was not enough for the legend to be shot down!) And transferred to command, but ground work. However, seven downed fascists (in addition to three before being wounded) were on Maresyev's account by that time. After the Great Patriotic War, he went into the reserve almost immediately - in 1946. Being by nature a truly modest person, Alexey Maresyev repeated more than once: “I'm not a legend! I am an ordinary Soviet person ... "And he specified that the Victory in the Great Patriotic War was" a feat of his entire generation. " His new front, he chose the patriotic education of youth, the struggle for peace, work in veteran organizations. Alexey Petrovich Maresyev passed away on May 18, 2001 - an hour before the start of the grand gala evening dedicated to his 85th birthday. The celebrations took place, but they had to start with a minute of silence ... He seemed to soar into the sky, tired of praise, somewhere to the limit of the impossible that he had overcome long ago, leaving us a bright memory and an eternal example.
Alexey Maresyev did not exaggerate in the least when he spoke of the “feat of a generation”. Not everyone knows about this, but his heroism was repeated during the Great Patriotic War by a number of Soviet pilots. Their fates and deeds are a topic for a separate conversation, to which we will definitely return.