Stepanenko, Ivan Nikiforovich
Born Apr. 13, 1920, in the village of Nekhaiki, in what is now Drabov Raion, Cherkassy Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. Major general of aviation (1958). Honored Military Pilot of the USSR (1966); twice Hero of the Soviet Union (Apr. 4, 1944, and Aug. 18, 1945). Member of the CPSU since 1942.
The son of peasants, Stepanenko joined the Soviet Army in 1940. He graduated from the Kacha A. F. Miasnikov Military Aviation School in 1941, the M. V. Frunze Military Academy in 1949, and the Military Academy of the General Staff in 1957. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–5), Stepanenko was a pilot, flight commander, deputy squadron commander, and squadron commander in the Fourth Aviation Fighter Regiment on the Southern, Stalingrad, Northern Caucasus, Briansk, Second Baltic, and Leningrad fronts. He completed 414 combat missions and fought 118 air battles, in which he shot down 33 planes himself and eight more in group combat; he was wounded three times. After the war he held various command positions in the air force.
Stepanenko has been awarded the Order of Lenin, three Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Patriotic War First and Second Class, the Order of Alexander Nevsky, five Orders of the Red Star, and various medals.