Dedicated to Anna Yegorova and my beloved авиатриссы, on the 70th anniversary of Russia’s Victory Day
Anna’s blazing Ilyushin attack plane spun toward the earth, and she burned and tumbled with it. Her next memory: searing pain, as she awoke with a soldier’s boot on her chest. After that, the inside of a cell.
Lieutenant Anna Timofeyeva-Yegorova shouldn’t have survived the churning aerial battle over Warsaw, being shot down, her burns and broken spine, or her brutal internment. But those things didn’t leave the most lasting scars.
Six decades later, on a sunny September day in 2005, her eyes are clear as she pages through yellowed photographs of Soviet warbirds and long-dead comrades-in-arms and shares her war stories—and a canteen of home-brewed vodka. “Just like my combat rations,” she grins…