On May 9th, 1945, Russia first celebrated the end of the Great Patriotic War. I have a Russian friend who pointed out that this was not just the victory of the Soviet communist system over fascism. He felt it needed to be said that the people were not at war to fight for a certain abstract ideal such as "Victory for Communism" as commonly reported. Instead they fought and died for other fathers, mothers, children, as well, of course, as the Motherland.
So, two days before celebrating Mother's Day in the US, I just wanted to honor some of the real heroes of the war, regardless of personal political views.
Photo from http://mysite.pratt.edu/~rsilva/sovwomen.htm
Female Soviet Air Force (VVS) pilots flew more than 24,000 sorties during the war. The Hero of the Soviet Union award was bestowed on sixty-eight of these pilots.
They were known as the Night Witches, or Nachthexen, by the Germans, who feared their accuracy and skill.
The Night Witches flew without parachutes, in planes such as the Yak 1s, Yak 7Bs and Petlyakov Pe-2 2 engine bombers. The continued bravery defined the female pilots of the 586th, 587th and the 588th Women's Fighter and Bomber Regiments. It appears that this was much more likely a fight for something concrete, possibly of family and home, than abstract concepts or hate.*
In celebration of women, and mothers everywhere, you can read more about the VVS female pilots here.
Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to all.
*Plus, let's face it: many of the best pilots are female pilots. :)