Brave colonel

One hundred year old veteran Vasily Michurin, a Hero of the Soviet Union, awarded the Union State Standing Committee prize

Minsker Vasily Muchurin, from Kostroma Region, has celebrated his 100th birthday. He was awarded the Hero Star in 1939, for heroism during the Finnish war. He also participated in the Great Patriotic War. A retired colonel, despite his age, he often chats with young people, and is an honorary member of the Military and Scientific Society. 


This August, he received acknow­ledgement from the Union State Stan­ding Committee, not only for his birthday, but for his public activities and great personal contribution to raising young people with military and patriotic awareness. The document was signed by the Union State Secretary, Grigory Rapota.

Vasily Sergeyevich remains easy-going and open-minded, just as he was in his youth. He grew up in an ordinary, rural family in the village of Kuzmino, in Kostroma Region, working alongside adults. After finishing seven years at his village school, he went to work at a collective farm, and was then commissioned to work at a machinery and tractor station. There, he managed the collective farm’s reading room, half-librarian and half-cultural-worker. However, it was during his Red Army service that he showed his true mettle. 

He showed his loyalty to his patriotic oath, as well as his courage and intelligence, during the war against the Finnish. Michurin was fighting on the Karelian Isthmus, where severe frosts were accompanied by snowstorms, seriously impeding the fight against the enemy. The latter occupied the well-fortified Mannerheim Line, with wire fences, permanent fortifications and earth-and-timber emplacements.

They had to capture those fortifications, receiving a field order to secretively occupy the edge of the forest and mount defences. The machine-gunners under Vasily Michurin’s command moved through deep snow, in almost 30-degrees of frost, to approach a shell crater, where they organised a firing position, as best as they could. 

The veteran still remembers in detail what happened next. He first ordered the soldiers to keep silent and only shoot when the enemy attacked. The neighbouring squad opened fire, and Vasily Michurin followed. The third machine-gun didn’t work because, as it turned out, a lopsided bullet had become stuck. Vasily quickly fixed the problem, and the gun became operational. 

In that fight, the Soviet soldiers repelled six severe attacks. After the first, a machine-gunner was killed and another was seriously wounded, Vasily continued resisting the attacks alone, creeping between the machine guns to fire on the enemy. He put all thoughts of death from his mind, despite being in constant peril. One bullet struck his woollen coat but, as the saying goes, bullets don’t take the brave. 

Vasily Michurin was awarded his Hero Star for that battle, by Mikhail Kalinin, on behalf of the Kremlin. The division commander suggested that he should enter Minsk’s Military and Political College, which Michurin finished on the eve of the war against Fascist Germany. 

Vasily fought through the entire war, from beginning to end. He headed a squadron on the Front, where the Nazis concentrated their efforts against Moscow, and was wounded three times in one fight. However, he returned to the battlefield after his wounds were bandaged. 

After another injury, he was sent to hospital for a while, and then returned to the Front. Vasily helped liberate Gomel, Slutsk, Baranovichi and Brest, and helped storm Berlin. Later, he participated in the liberation of Czechoslovakia.

His post-war service centred on Belarus where, upon the order of the Defence Minister, Vasily was enrolled as an honorary soldier of the 120th separate guards mechanized brigade, headquartered on the outskirts of Minsk. He regularly meets pupils, young army servants and attendees, to tell them about his military experience and to explain the need to strengthen the Union State’s defence capacity. Such meetings keep him young.  

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