Stepanian, Nel’son Georgievich
Born Mar. 15 (28), 1913, in Shusha, in what is now the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, Azerbaijan SSR; died Dec. 14, 1944, near the city of Liepäja, Latvian SSR. Soviet lieutenant colonel (1944). Twice Hero of the Soviet Union (Oct. 23, 1942, and, posthumously, Mar. 6,1945). Member of the CPSU from 1932.
Stepanian graduated from a civil aviation school in 1935 and worked as an instructor pilot. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–15), he fought in battles around Odessa as a member of a group of assault pilots. After recovering from wounds he was sent to the Baltic Fleet, where he commanded a flight, a squadron, and the 47th Attack Aviation Regiment of the fleet’s air force. He completed 239 successful combat missions; individually and with his group he destroyed a total of 53 enemy ships. On Dec. 14, 1944, a group of attack planes led by Stepanian struck at a concentration of ships near Liepäja and sank six of them. Stepanian died in the battle.
Stepanian was awarded two Orders of Lenin and three Orders of the Red Banner. A large fishing trawler has been named after him. There is a bust of Stepanian in Yerevan.