Mares’ev, Aleksei Petrovich
Born May 7 (20), 1916, in Kamyshin. Soviet pilot; major; Hero of the Soviet Union (Aug. 24, 1943). Member of the CPSU since 1944.
Mares’ev worked as a lathe operator and took part in the building of Komsomol’sk-na-Amure. He entered the Soviet Army in 1937 and graduated from the Bataisk Military Aviation School in 1940. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 he commanded a flight of a fighter aviation regiment and served as assistant regimental commander and regimental navigator. Early in the war he shot down four enemy aircraft. In March 1942, Mares’ev’s plane was hit in combat, and Mares’ev, gravely wounded, landed in enemy-controlled territory. For 18 days he crawled toward the front line. After his rescue both his legs were amputated at the knee. He then mastered the use of artificial limbs and at his own request was sent to the 63rd Guards Fighter Air Regiment in June 1943. In aerial fighting he shot down seven more enemy aircraft.
Mares’ev went into retirement in July 1946. He graduated from the Higher Party School in 1952. Since September 1956 he has been executive secretary of the Soviet Committee of War Veterans. Mares’ev’s heroic feat is described in B. Polevoi’s book The Story of a Real Man. He has been awarded the Order of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, the Order of the Red Star, and various medals.