On Saturday, Russia solemnly marked Warriors-Internationalists Day, a holiday dedicated to the thousands of Soviet soldiers who served in conflicts around the world during the Cold War. In honour of the occasion, journalist Andrei Kots sat down with Maj. Gen. (ret.) Sergei Kramarenko, a decorated Soviet Air Force ace who served in the Second World War and earned the title ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ for his exploits in Korea, and who, at 97 years old, is the last living Soviet ace of the Korean War.
Despite his age, the veteran’s mind was as sharp as ever, and he remembered that it was the experience he gained during World War II that prepared him for Korea. Between 1942 and 1945, he flew the LaGG-3 and La-5 fighters, shooting down three Luftwaffe aircraft and assisting in the destruction of 13 more.
“At the end of the war, we had surpassed the Germans in terms of combat tactics and piloting skill. We entered the Korean conflict equipped with this knowledge, and it allowed us to successfully defeat the Americans,” Kramarenko said.
“US pilots seemed weaker to me than the German aces. The Germans were more willing to get into a fight, while the Americans tried to avoid battle. In Korea, we proved to them that we were at least not inferior to them in terms of training and skill, and even surpassed them in terms of our aircraft,” the pilot added.
Kramarenko said that getting into the cockpit of the new MiG-15 jet fighter jet after flying piston-engine fighters…