closeup of Litvyak monument
The Memorial to Soviet Ace Lydia Litvyak by Henry Sakaida

When I visited Ukraine in October 2002, I had two goals. One was to meet a couple of female Heroines of the Soviet Union, and the other was to see the memorial
view of the statue with School No. 1 in the background
AT TOP OF PAGE: A closeup of the Litvyak monument. ABOVE: Author Henry Sakaida poses in front of the monument for Lydia Litvyak in Krasny Luch, Ukraine.
dedicated to the female Soviet fighter ace Lydia Litvyak.
I wanted to meet the Heroines because I was working on a book for Osprey Publications (now to be published in May of this year under the title Heroines of the Soviet Union) and needed additional information. As for the Litvyak Memorial, I once saw a photo of it over 20 years ago and vowed that someday, I would go and see it.
On October 20th, I had the pleasure of meeting Guards Maj Mariya Dolina, the Heroine who flew the Pe-2 bomber, at her apartment in Kiev. When she asked about my plans for the rest of my stay in Ukraine, I told her that I was on my way to Krasny Luch in Eastern Ukraine. She asked me why I was going there, and I answered: "There is a statue of the famous female fighter pilot Lydia Litvyak there…" And with that, she exclaimed "Lydia! We were best friends!"
 
early image of Lydia Litvyak in winter flying gear.
The good major, scheduled for a surgical operation in a few days, made my friend Sergey Tumasyan and I promise to place a bouquet of flowers at the base of the memorial. She told us that it had to be a certain white daisy, which the female pilots just loved (continued)

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