Chronicle of war:

Nelson Stepanian
Nelson Stepanian28. 3. 1913 - 14. 12. 1944

Nelson Stepanian was a bomber pilot of the Air Force of the Baltic Fleet.

He was born on March 28, 1913 in Shusha (Nagorny Karabakh), Azerbaijan into a servant’s family. Armenian. In 1935 he graduated from Bataisk School of Civil Navy.

In the early days of the Great Patriotic War N. Stepanian was sent to the Black Sea Fleet Aviation. He started his battles in the 46th attack squadron in Nikolayev and Odessa. During the 20th flight Nelson was wounded but managed to hang on his damaged plane to the airport. After hospital he fought in the 57th Air Assault Regiment of the Baltic Fleet on the outskirts of Leningrad since August 1941.

In the sky of Leningrad he made more than 60 combat missions and, together with his link he destroyed and knocked out 8 tanks, nearly 90 vehicles, more than 60 anti-aircraft guns, and a plenty of other equipment.

By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on October 23, 1942 for excellent performance of assigned tasks, commander of the 57th Attack Aviation Regiment of the 8th Air Force Bomber Brigade of the Baltic Fleet, Junior Lieutenant Nelson Stepanian was awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal (№ 723).

In November 1942, N. Stepanian became squadron commander of the 57th Assault Regiment which later (March of next year) was thr first in the Navy to be renamed into the 7th Guards Regiment.

After a while, N. Stepanian was recalled from the front, and was assigned to prepare flight personnel at staff courses of the Baltic Fleet Air Force, and later at the Higher Naval Air Force high staff courses.

In April 1944, after persistent requests to return to aviation operating strength, Stepanian was appointed commander of the 47th Black Sea Fleet Air Assault Regiment. The regiment at this time fought desperately with the enemy at the Crimea and Kuban.

During the Crimean operation Stepanian’s Regiment destroyed 8 transports, 12 speed landing barges, 9 patrol boats, and more than 3,000 soldiers and officers. Staying true to his principle – to learn by example - Nelson Stepanian led his regiment into battle. So, on April 16, 1944, he led a group of 12 Il-fighters, and sank 3 speed landing barges at Sudak. On May 22 he participated in defeat of a convoy erupting from blocked Sebastopol to Rumania, personally sinking German transport. The commander’s plane was severely damaged: the left aileron and a part of the stabilizer were cut off. Despite that Stepanian he performed the combat mission and led his broken Il to the airfield. For successful operations during liberation of Feodosia, the 47th SHAP was awarded the honorary name of Feodosia, and that was the commander’s great merit.

After liberation of the Crimea Stepanian’s regiment was transferred to the Baltic. After flying to a new location, Stepanian’s fighters immediately entered the battle. They continually struck crushing blows to the enemy’s floating craft in Gulfs of Navarre, Vyborg and Finland. In a short time the 47th Regiment destroyed 30 Nazi ships. On merit and honor, and so on July 22, 1944 Fleet Commander Admiral Tributs officially attached to the regiment battle flag the Red Banner Order. From now on, it became the Red Banner Regiment.

By August 1944 commander of the 47th Red Attack Aviation Regiment of the 11th Air Assault Air Division of the Baltic Fleet, Lieutenant Colonel N. Stepanian made 239 sorties. He personally sunk the whole squadron: a destroyer, two frigates, a mine-sweeper, two torpedo boats and five transports - a total displacement of more than 80,000 tons! In addition, he destroyed 5,000 enemy soldiers and officers, broke the four crossings, caused more than 80 explosions and 70 fires. After spending more than 30 air combats, he shot down two Ju-88 bombers and, besides, shot and bombed on the ground another 25 planes of various types. During this same time, the pilots of his regiment flew about 1,500 sorties, sank over 50 enemy ships, and shot down 13 enemy planes.

On December 14, 1944 Nelson Stepanian led a group of the Il planes to bomb Liepaja port. Regimental commander leading the first group was to suppress the shore and shipboard anti-aircraft artillery. The second group in the meantime had to get through to transport and deal with them. Already on the approach to the objectives Stepanian’s planes were suddenly attacked by 30 enemy fighters. They got into a fierce and transient dogfight. A few minutes later the leading plane which first ran bravely to the counter covering the rest, was set on fire and fell into the sea. N. Stepanian and former co-driver of the 2nd Squadron of the 47th Regiment, Capt. A. Rumiantsev died.

On March 6, 1945 for his leadership and personal courage, Nelson Stepanian was posthumously awarded the second Gold Star medal.

He was awarded two Orders of Lenin and three Orders of the Red Banner.

The monuments were erected in his homeland, Shusha and in Liepaja. A large freezer trawler trawler of Riga Fleet was named after him. Hero’s bust was set in Yerevan.

Along with departure of the Russian fleet from Latvia the local government demanded to take home a monument to the famous aviator, threatening otherwise to destruction... Nelson Stepanian’s monument was transported to Kaliningrad ...
 



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