Grigoriy Onufrienko

Grigoriy Onufrienko

Fighter pilot
Date of Birth: 22.06.1916
Country: Ukraine

Biography of Grigory Onufrienko

Grigory Dmitrievich Onufrienko was a fighter pilot and a highly skilled organizer of air operations. He was born on June 22, 1916, in Lugansk (Voroshilovgrad), in a working-class family. He completed 7 years of education at an incomplete secondary school and worked as a fitter at the Voroshilovgrad Steam Locomotive Plant. In 1936, he joined the Red Army and graduated from the Voroshilovgrad Military Aviation Pilot School.

Grigoriy Onufrienko

During his military career, Onufrienko participated in the Soviet liberation campaign in Western Ukraine and Belarus in 1939 and the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-1940. When the Great Patriotic War broke out, he fought on the front lines as part of the 129th Fighter Aviation Regiment (later 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment). By August 1941, as a Senior Lieutenant, Onufrienko had already completed 110 combat missions, shooting down 7 enemy aircraft in 31 aerial battles. On April 13, 1942, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his courage and military valor in combat.

Later, as a Guards Major, Onufrienko commanded the 31st Fighter Aviation Regiment and flew a total of 505 combat missions on MiG-3, LaGG-3, La-5, and La-7 aircraft. He personally shot down 21 enemy planes and 29 as part of a group. He was wounded twice during his service. After the war, he continued to serve in the Air Force until 1971 when he retired as a Guards Colonel. He lived in Pushkino, Moscow Oblast, and worked as a senior engineer at the Central Clinical Hospital named after Semashko in Moscow. Onufrienko was decorated with several orders, including the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner (four times), the Order of Alexander Nevsky, the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class (twice), the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and the Order of the Red Star (twice), as well as numerous medals and a foreign order.

Grigory Onufrienko was not only an exceptional fighter pilot but also a remarkable organizer of air operations and a dedicated mentor. His tactical brilliance was evident in creating and practicing new air combat techniques and adopting effective strategies from the enemy. He was respected and admired by his fellow pilots for his determination, discipline, courage, and perseverance. Onufrienko played a crucial role in analyzing battles, providing valuable feedback, and guiding both novice and experienced fighters. He believed in self-assessment and often reminded others that "victors judge themselves".

Born in Lugansk, Grigory Denisovich Onufrienko was the son of Denis Onufrienko, a participant in the workers' movement who died during the Russian Civil War. Grigory completed 7 years of education and worked as a fitter at a locomotive plant before joining the Voroshilovgrad Military Aviation Pilot School in 1938. He participated in the Soviet-Finnish War, flying numerous combat missions on the I-15bis biplane.

The war began on his 25th birthday, and Onufrienko, already a Senior Lieutenant and squadron commander of the 129th Fighter Aviation Regiment stationed near the western border, was tasked with defending the airfield and nearby settlements from enemy air raids. In his first mission, the squadron's political officer, Senior Political Commissar A.M. Sokolov, shot down a Messerschmitt over the airfield. The following months saw numerous sorties, victories, and losses. The regiment, now equipped with LaGG-3 aircraft, fought in the Battle of Smolensk, defending Elnya, Dorogobuzh, Yartsevo, Dukhovschina, and Vyazma from enemy air attacks. Pilots like Grigory Onufrienko, V.A. Zaitsev, I.I. Meshcheryakov, and P.I. Peskov distinguished themselves with their exceptional flying skills.

In just over two and a half months, the pilots of the regiment destroyed 82 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and on airfields, as well as 120 vehicles and 12 anti-aircraft artillery batteries. On December 6, 1941, the 129th Fighter Aviation Regiment was transformed into the 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, and Captain G.D. Onufrienko, the squadron commander, became the standard-bearer during the award ceremony of the Guard's Banner.

Onufrienko achieved his first victory, shooting down a Messerschmitt, in the early days of the war. Within a month, he had already completed 116 combat missions, shot down 9 enemy planes, and was recommended for the title of Hero. He continued to fly, even after being shot down and wounded on October 2, 1941, during an important reconnaissance mission. Despite his injuries, Onufrienko returned to the regiment the next day and reported the results of his mission. He was amazed at the concentration of German aviation in the enemy's rear, which he had not witnessed before during the war.

Flying now on LaGG-3 aircraft, Onufrienko shot down a Junkers Ju-88 leader directly above the command post of General-Colonel I.S. Konev, the front commander, on December 5, 1941, during heavy snowfall and limited visibility. He continued to participate in fierce battles, including the Battle of Rzhev, where his regiment played a crucial role in repelling enemy attacks. On January 11, in the area of Zubtsov, Guards Major G.D. Onufrienko shot down a Stuka Ju-87 in an aerial battle.

On February 5, when the enemy launched counterattacks from Olenino and Rzhev, cutting off the communications of the 29th and 39th Armies and encircling the 11th Cavalry Corps, Soviet troops bravely defended against the onslaught. The pilots came to their aid, and Onufrienko's LaGG-3 group was the first to attack enemy positions, bombarding them with gunfire and machine guns. After completing their mission, Onufrienko noticed the arrival of a group of planes in the distance, thinking it was the relief force led by Guards Major N.P. Gorodnichov. However, those planes turned out to be enemy aircraft. Onufrienko engaged them, shooting down one enemy plane with precise fire. Meanwhile, Gorodnichov's group attacked the enemy's bombers. The sky was filled with tracer rounds as they shot down three more Junkers planes. The remaining enemy planes retreated.

On August 4, 1942, Guards Major G.D. Onufrienko achieved his 15th and final victory as part of the renowned 5th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment. On August 18, he was appointed as the commander of the 31st Fighter Aviation Regiment. He led this regiment through battles in the Caucasus and the Kursk Bulge, as well as during the liberation of Nikolaev and Odessa and the Tiraspol and Dubossary Operations. Under his command, the regiment achieved the majority of its 350 victories. Notable aces under his leadership included N. Krasnov and N. Skomorokhov.

By the end of the war, Guards Lieutenant Colonel G.D. Onufrienko had completed 505 successful combat missions, shot down 50 enemy aircraft (21 personally and 29 as part of a group), and had been wounded twice.

After the war, Grigory Denisovich continued to serve in the Air Force until 1971, flying various types of fighter aircraft from MiG-9 to MiG-21 and from Yak-15 to Yak-28. He retired as a Colonel. He lived and worked in Pushkino, Moscow Oblast, and served as a senior engineer at the Central Clinical Hospital named after Semashko. His son, O.G. Onufrienko, followed in his father's footsteps and also serves in the Air Force as a Colonel and first-class military pilot.