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Stories of Soviet Warriors: Lieutenant Bukchin
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Lieutenant Bukchin, Simeon Zinofeevich

 


Fighter Pilot, 129th Guards Fighter Regiment 




I received a very cold welcome when I joined the regiment. Gulaev vehemently protested when he heard that I had been appointed his wingman, “Why did they give me a Jew!!!” Yes, and the regimental commander Bobrov himself called me “Abram” instead of my real name. But enough! Such antisemitism is on his conscience; maybe Smushkevich denied him a decoration in Spain? But I became real friends with Gulaev, and more than once we saved each other's life. By the way, he never let anything antisemitic slip in my presence. If you fight well, then it doesn't matter whether you are Jewish or Russian. But in the beginning... For me, the thought of Gulaev being shot down was worse than death. I could not justify to myself or to my comrades why I did not save the great ace. In combat, my responsibility was to cover Gulaev's back and not interfere with his “solo performance”.

 
One day we were fighting 12 German Ju-87 bombers accompanied by a flight of 6 Me-109s or as we called them “Leans”. Kolya plugged two of them, but a pair of “Leans” got on his tail and began shooting practically at point blank range. I rushed through the bullets to engage the lead plane. That gave Nikolai a few precious seconds, and climbing quickly he eluded his pursuers. Luckily for me, I managed to nurse my battered plane back to the airfield. Since then, Gulaev and I have been fast friends for many years. I didn't shoot down my first plane until December 1943. It was a reconnaissance FW-189 – hated by combat veterans as “The Frame”. The “Fokker” was covered by 4 Messers, we also had an element with us. Gulaev hit the “Frame”, and the German quickly fell with smoke starting to spew out of its rear. At that point, the fighter escort engaged us. Then Gulaev commanded me over the radio, “Simeon, take this b...” Cutting him off, I shot the plane down for my first group kill. After 2 days, fortune smiled on me again, and I shot down 2 “Hans” in one battle – a Ju-87 and an Me-109. I shot the “Lean” down in a frontal attack – he lost his nerve and turned away at the last second. In a word, I was lucky. Most Germans had nerves like steel cables. And that's how the real war started for me.

 

About the author:

Artyom Drabkin ( born 25.07.1971) — Russian public figure, leader of internet project  «I remember»,  author of collections of memoirs of soviet veterans of World War II,  series of veterans interviews «Soldiers' Diaries» and «Trench Truth».  Script writer of documentary movie series.

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