“Go to the Bank of America there and get the money from the ATM! I’ll pay you back!” Dave advised. When I asked some locals for the nearest Bank of America branch, I drew blanks. As I discovered, Louisville did not have a single Bank of America office! There was no listing in the white pages of the phone book. “That should do the trick, he’s out of my hair!” I thought, and called him back.
"Henry, you gotta do this for me! Remember the time I bailed you out at the Max Show?!!” pleaded Dave. Ouch! Yes, I remembered. I also recalled uttering those regretful words “I owe you BIG time!” It was now time for me to perform. “OK, I’ll go over and get laughed at!” I responded.
Military dossier photo of Stepan Nikolenko
Above, Nikolenko's military dossier photo. Below, photo of Nikolenko taken from the encyclopedia set "Heroes of the Soviet Union".
Photo of Stepan Nikolenko
So who was this Stepan Mikhailovich Nikolenko who was causing me all this turmoil at the SOS? Here is his biography as noted in his military dossier. He was born on December 27, 1905 in the current Donetsk region of Ukraine. His parents were peasants and there were 12 in their family. They owned no land and one horse. His father died in 1919. In 1939, his mother, then 75 years old, was sick and living in
Soviet T-28 medium tank
Image shows an unidentified individual standing in front of a Soviet T-28 tank, the type commanded by Nikolenko in 1934. The T-28 was among the world's first medium tanks. The prototype was completed in 1931 and production began in late 1932. It was an infantry-support tank intended to break through fortified defences. The T-28 was designed to complement the heavier T-35, with which it shared many components.
Moscow with Stepan’s younger brother and elder sister.
Nikolenko married in 1931 and had a boy and a girl. He joined the Red Army in 1921 and his first job was ammunition storekeeper. In 1923, Stepan was transferred to the reserves and went to the Donbass region where he worked as a salesman and a railway repairman. In October 1927, he was called back to the Red Army and joined the 48th Cavalry Battalion of the OGPU troops. The OGPU (Joint State Political Directorate) later became a branch of the notorious NKVD (Soviet secret police). In 1934, Nikolenko became a T-28 tank commander. Four years later, he was appointed commander of a heavy tank company. He participated in the Winter War against Finland. His heroic deeds were noted in the dossier:
“From 10pm on February 1st until 4pm on February 2nd, Nikolenko, together with a platoon of tanks, fought at the northern outskirts of Hotinen. The enemy began to throw grenades at the tanks. Nikolenko organized an infantry platoon, led it against the Finns lurking in the trenches and dislodged them. As a result, he moved his platoon 150 meters forward.” “On the night of February 2-3, he guided the evacuation of a burned tank from the line Hotenen-Turta. After fulfilling this task, he gave a few tanks to the sappers in order to block a large pillbox of the enemy. He, together with the commander of the sapper platoon, crawled up the fire point, found out where the explosives can be set, and organized the detonation. The task was completed without a loss.”
“On February 5, in the same region, the battalions accepted battle in order to break through the fortified line. Nikolenko was among the first tanks to charge forward. They got under heavy fire from the enemy guns. Nikolenko’s tank was hit in the front. He got out, examined it, and took three wounded soldiers aboard. He sent them to the rear and stayed without a tank on the battlefield. He saw that the tank teams were leaderless, so he began directing them. He went 600 meters into the interior of the enemy defense line, reached the trenches and shot at the lurking Finns with his submachine gun and showered them with grenades, thus clearing the way for our infantry who were pinned down under enemy fire.”
“On February 7, a burning tank came from the battle. The flame was growing and the shells inside were in danger of exploding. Nikolenko organized a rescue and the explosion was averted. In the same area, he hit an enemy gun with his tank gun, drove away the enemy gun team, hooked the gun to his tank and dragged it away to our side.“
" On February 13, 1940 from 9am to noon, he, together with his tank platoon, got to the front line, and until the peace treaty came into effect, he was firing at the enemy with his cannons and machine guns.” For his heroism and leadership, Senior Lt Nikolenko was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on April 11, 1940. Nikolenko perished in combat on August 16,
1942 near the village of Zhulebino of the present Gagarin area of the Smolensk region. He is buried in the town Karmanovo and a bust was
erected in Khartsyzsk.”
Page 2 of 3
Copyright ©2007 Henry Sakaida. Click here for Terms of Use Policy applicable to this site.