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Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Footage of the last battle of Major Filipov went around the whole world. The militants began recording while trying to capture the pilot. Before blowing himself up, the officer cried out: “This is for our guys!”. On February 6th Filipov was posthumously given the rank of Hero of Russia. Two more Russian soldiers who were killed in Syria were awarded this rank. How their memory is honoured is in the material of RIA Novosti.

He supported the commander from the air

On February 3rd, a formation of Su-25 attack jets carried out an observation flight over the de-escalation zone in the province of Idlib. A MANPADS was fired at the Russian jets from this same de-escalation zone, from territory where there were so-called moderate groups. The missile hit the Sukhoi of the leading pilot — Major Roman Filipov.

The last fight of Major Filipov has, most likely, been seen by the whole world — the militants trying to take the pilot prisoner filmed it all. The pilot ejected from the downed Su-25 and opened return fire at the militants, who surrounded him. And then with words “This is for our guys!” he blew himself up with a grenade. The video, which the jihadists wanted to show for propaganda purposes, became clear proof of the heroism of the officer.

While there was combat on the ground, the Su-25 supporting Roman Filipov assisted the hit commander from the air, he made several sorties on vehicles near the place the pilot landed. The supporting attack jet reversed its course only when there was an emergency amount of fuel in the tank.

On February 6th, Filipov was posthumously given the rank of Hero of Russia — “For the heroism, courage, and bravery shown while performing military duty”. High school No. 85 of Voronezh was named after Filipov. The future Hero of Russia graduated in 2001.

“Did this really happened to him?”

“When I was informed, I didn’t immediately believe that all of this happened to Roman. Yes, somewhere war is ongoing, but did all of this really happen to him?” said Filipov’s schoolmate Roman Dudin.

As a child, the future Hero of Russia, according to Dudin, wasn’t characterised by a militant temper. “He was never a bully, but he also wasn’t a pushover. Nobody thought about  picking on him, teasing him, bullying him. He was on friendly terms with everyone, he never clashed with anyone. He was very quiet and cheerful. All boys fight with each other, but he never ever fought with anyone – at school anyway. Not because he couldn’t or was afraid, but he was able to solve all conflicts peacefully. He could stop a quarrel even among others. Really, he was a peacemaker,” he remembered.

Stab in the back

The formation of Su-24M bombers took off from the Hmeymim airbase on the morning of November 24th, 2015. The jet with the callsign “83 white” was flown by Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov, and Konstantin Murakhtin was the navigator. Approximately at 10:00 local time the jets started working on targets on the ground — a grouping of militants.

When “83 white” carried out a second trip (four kilometers from the border with Turkey), it was attacked from behind by a Turkish F-16C. Both pilots ejected from the downed jet.

Peshkov died from the gunfire of militants on the ground. Murakhtin managed to land alive and flee. The navigator was found by soldiers of the Syrian army and handed over to the Russian military.

The authorities of Turkey later detained the leader of militants from the Turkish nationalist movement “Grey Wolves” Alparslan Çelik, suspected of murdering Peshkov. He received five years of imprisonment. But not for executing the pilot, but for illegally possessing weapons.

Cadets at a graduation ceremony for the eternal inclusion of the Hero of Russia Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov in the lists of pupils of the Ekaterinburg Suvorov Military School

The rank of Hero of the Russian Federation was given to Peshkov on November 25th, 2015, by the decree of the President of Russia.

Memorial plaques in honor of the hero were installed in the village of Kosikha in Altai Krai — in the Motherland of Peshkov, in Barnaul — on the building of the museum of local history, in the village of Vozzhayevka where he once served, on the building of the Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) Suvorov Military School, where he graduated in 1987. The pilot was eternally enlisted in the structure of the fifth company of Suvorov Military School students.

In Lipetsk, high school No. 30 was named after Peshkov. His son attended this same school. In the same place a bust of the hero was established. The administration of Altai Krai founded three nominal grants in Peshkov’s memory for pupils of a boarding school with initial flight training.

“We remember him the way he was when he was 17”

“Cadet friendship is forever. That’s why the pain from loss was felt by all of us, Oleg’s classmates. Over time the pain dulls. But it just seems like this, when you try to remember — it becomes aggravated,” said Dmitry Vanyushkin, who studied together with Peshkov in the Sverdlovsk Suvorov Military School.

According to the classmate of the Hero of Russia, graduates of 1987, now they rarely meet up — the service scattered all of them to different corners of the country. “That’s why we remember him how he was when he was 17. Now he remains like this forever. After all, Oleg was eternally included in the lists of companies in the Suvorov Military School. Every evening verification begins with his name. Now one of the guys shouts out his name, his photo hangs there — in the second platoon”.

Irina Eremenko became acquainted with Peshkov at a thematic evening in the Suvorov school — she was invited by a former schoolmate. “Oleg approached, and presented himself. Then we became friends. What was he like? Purposeful. He headed towards his purpose. He wanted to become a pilot — he entered the Kharkov flight school. He was a personality — what else can be said,” she stated.

At the forefront

The operation to liberate the Syrian city of Palmyra and its modern part — the city of Tadmor — from ISIS militants began on March 13th, 2016.

Medals of a special forces officer, the Hero of Russia Aleksandr Prokhorenko, who died while performing a combat mission in Syria on March 17th

Government troops went to Palmyra through a mountain range, where jihadists were entrenched. Russian aviation also worked on the positions of militants, with aim correction coming from Senior Lieutenant Aleksandr Prokhorenko from the ground. When militants surrounded him, he called in fire on himself. This was on March 17th. And on April 11th of the same year he was given the rank of Hero of Russia. People abroad learnt about Aleksandr’s feat. The French couple, Jean-Claude and Micheline Magué, transferred their family awards from the times of World War II to Prokhorenko’s family.

The daughter of Aleksandr Prokhorenko Violetta was born after the death of her father — in July, 2016.

Prokhorenko is eternally included in the lists of staff of the Smolensk military academy of army anti-aircraft defense. A street of the resort of Zelenogradsk in the Kaliningrad region, a  square in Orenburg, a school in his native village Gorodki of the Orenburg region were all named after Prokhorenko. A memorial plaque in Prokhorenko’s memory was installed in the Orenburg Presidential Cadet School.

A monument to the Russian officer was installed also in the Italian city of Vagli Sotto. “It was only fair to pay homage to the soldier who sacrificed himself for the sake of all of us, because ISIS is a real world threat. This hero preferred to die from gunfire than to fall into the hands of bandits. The whole world can be proud of his act,” said the mayor of Vagli Sotto Mario Puglia.

“Everything could turn into a joke”

“On the one hand, he was an open and sociable guy. And on the another hand, when he went on holiday — he didn’t brag, he didn’t want praise, he didn’t advertise his successes, although he had something to brag about. During holiday he didn’t drink, he wasn’t idle, he ran cross-countries on long distances. He trained in endurance. He always wanted to do military service, to live according to the schedule, under the charter. He went towards this aim without hesitation, without doubt,” remembers Vladimir Tsyganov, the head of the Gorodetsky village council.

Prokhorenko’s character, according to Tsyganov, was showed already during his childhood: “Of course, the teachers didn’t like it. He was small, but already held his ground, and didn’t give up. At the same time he wasn’t a gloomy guy, but cheerful. Everything could turn into a joke”.

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