Maria Dolina

Maria Dolina

Deputy squadron commander of the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment
Date of Birth: 18.12.1922
Country: Ukraine

  1. Biography of Maria Dolina
  2. A Heroic Flight
  3. A Message to Borisov
  4. A Remarkable Career

Biography of Maria Dolina

Maria Dolina was born on December 18, 1922, in the village of Sharovka, currently in the Poltavsky district of the Omsk region, in a peasant family. Her family moved to the village of Mikhailovka in the Zaporozhye region of Ukraine in 1932 due to her father's disability (he lost his leg in the war). Maria was the eldest of 10 children. After completing 8 grades of the village school in Mikhailovka, Maria had to find work. She also attended the Mikhailovka Glider School, a branch of the Melitopol Aviation Club, which she graduated with honors. In 1939, she graduated from the Kherson Aviation School. To enroll, Maria added 2 extra years to her age (since then, her official documents stated her birth year as 1920). She worked as a pilot-instructor for the Dnepropetrovsk and Nikolaev Aero Clubs of the Osoaviakhim organization. She completed her high school education through correspondence in Dnepropetrovsk. In 1941, she volunteered to join the Red Army. In 1942, she graduated from the Engels Military Aviation School. She fought as part of the 587th (later renamed the 125th Guards) Bomber Aviation Regiment. She flew the dive bomber Pe-2 (her crew's navigator was Galina Dzhunkovskaya). Her first combat mission was near Stalingrad. She then fought in the skies of the North Caucasus, Kuban, and Kursk, participating in the liberation of Belarus and the Baltic states.

A Heroic Flight

On June 2, 1943, Maria's crew was assigned a mission to destroy a target near the village of Krymskaya in Kuban. While approaching the target, an antiaircraft shell fragment hit the left engine of their plane. Maria's aircraft could not keep up with the others. Despite successfully dropping their bombs, they were left without fighter cover and were attacked by a group of 2 German FW-190 fighters and 4 Me-109 fighters. Maria's crew managed to shoot down one FW-190 and one Me-109, but their own aircraft caught on fire. They were unable to abandon the burning plane while still flying over enemy territory. Luckily, Maria was wearing goggles given to her by Galina Dzhunkovskaya, which protected her eyes from the fire. Maria miraculously managed to land the plane 2 kilometers from the front line. They barely had time to get away before the plane exploded.

A Message to Borisov

In 1944, the Borisov newspaper "For Communism!" informed its readers that our planes had flown over the city, and one of them had dropped a pennant with the inscription: "To be delivered to the local Communist Party Committee. Battle greetings to the citizens of Borisov from the Borisov aviators! M. Dolin." Along with the pennant, a letter was dropped: "Dear citizens of Borisov! Today, on July 18, 1944, an aviation unit is flying over your city, which has been given the name 'Borisov' for its participation in the liberation of Borisov. We are flying further west to bomb the enemy on their territory. We urge you, dear comrades, to rebuild your city as quickly as possible!" At the end of the letter was the same signature: M. Dolin. In the same issue of the newspaper, the response of the local railway workers was published, in which they talked about their successes in restoring the station.

A Remarkable Career

After the war, Maria continued her service in the Air Force and became the deputy commander of a bomber aviation regiment. In 1950, she retired from active duty. She lived in the town of Shaulyai and later in Riga, where she completed the Party School. She worked in the Riga City Committee of the Latvian Party and the Central Committee of the Latvian Communist Party until 1975. She was a member of the board of the Republican Society of Friendship "USSR-France" and the Committee for the Defense of Peace. From 1975, she was an honorary member of the "Normandie-Niemen" regiment. Since 1983, she lived in Kiev. Maria was awarded the Orders of Lenin, the Red Banner (twice), the Patriotic War 1st Class, and various medals. Many pioneer squads and brigades were named after her, as well as a brigade at a pipe factory in the city of Volzhsky, Volgograd region. She is the author of the article "Jumping From the Flames" in the book "In the Front Sky."