Embracing the Sky with Resolute Hands: Life and Exploits of Talgat Begeldinov

On the 5th of August, the 101st anniversary of the birth of the legendary Kazakh aviator, General-Major of Aviation and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Talgat Begeldinov, is commemorated.

09/08/2023 - 23:19

August 5th marks the birthday of the legendary Kazakh aviator, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Talgat Begeldinov. This year, he would have turned 101. For more details about the life of this legendary pilot, read the article on Sarbaz.kz.

Talgat Yakubekovich Begeldinov was born in 1922 in the village of Maybalyk in the Akmola Region. From an early age, he lived with his uncle, his father's brother, as his parents entrusted him to the care of relatives who had no children of their own.

His childhood and youth were spent in Bishkek. Like all boys of his time, Talgat dreamed of soaring into the sky on an airplane. This dream led him to the aeroclub of the city of Frunze.

Within a year, he was already working as a flight instructor at the same club, and just a year later, he obtained his secondary education.

Talgat Begeldinov then studied at the Balashov Military Aviation Pilot School in the Saratov Region and later at the Orenburg Aviation School, from which he graduated in 1942.

Feats of Valor in Combat

In January 1943, aviator Begeldinov participated in aerial combat over the city of Kalinin. He was assigned an aircraft with the number 13. It turned out that none of the pilots wanted to fly it. Not only was it battered everywhere, but it also bore an ominous number. Yet, this did not deter Begeldinov.

After some time, the young pilot achieved his first personal victory by shooting down a fascist "Messerschmitt" aircraft, despite being wounded. For this, he was awarded his first government decoration, the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class. Although the German aircraft had managed to damage Begeldinov's plane and wound him, he and his group pressed on toward their main target – an enemy airfield. After bombing around a hundred German aircraft there, the Soviet planes turned back.

With his damaged aircraft lagging behind, Begeldinov found himself 40 kilometers from the front line. Two German planes attempted to force him to land, but he defied their commands. The German pilots opened fire with machine gun rounds, damaging his engine, cockpit, and igniting the engine. The pilot and gunner ejected from the burning plane with parachutes.

Earning the Title of Hero

In another combat mission over the area near the district center of Znamenka in the Kirovograd Region, aviator Begeldinov destroyed four enemy aircraft. For this, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for the first time.

The citations in the 1944 award lists are concise and do not convey all the details of the aerial battles in which the 22-year-old pilot participated:

"For the courage and bravery demonstrated in 152 successful combat sorties, personally shooting down four enemy aircraft, displaying heroism in the liberation of Kirovograd, Alexandria, Znamenka, inflicting significant damage to enemy equipment and personnel, Senior Lieutenant Begeldinov is worthy of the highest government decoration – the title of Hero of the Soviet Union."

By that time, Begeldinov's squadron had completed 1670 sorties without a loss of orientation. He meticulously observed and remembered every detail and promptly reported the situation to the command post. He thoroughly studied all the tricks and tactics of the enemy.

Begeldinov continued to excel in the Visla, Krosno operations, breaking through enemy defenses west of the city of Sandomierz, and during the liberation of Krakow. He heroically attacked enemy vehicles near the settlement of Stodoly, destroying three tanks and seven cars, disrupting the fascist plan for a counterattack.

Further Distinguished Service

His squadron on the 1st Ukrainian Front conducted 420 combat sorties without losses. He often led the most challenging battles. Over the years of war, the Supreme High Command thanked Talgat Begeldinov nine times.

Begeldinov fought on the Kalinin, Voronezh, Steppe, and the First and Second Ukrainian Fronts. During the war, he spent around 500 hours in the air. His aircraft was equipped with a camera that recorded all his flights.

During a battle over the Dnieper River, Begeldinov's plane was hit. Together with his gunner Yakovenko, they navigated through a minefield in the dark to reach their lines. The soldiers separated upon hearing barking dogs, and Begeldinov, wounded in the shoulder, had to swim across the river. Despite not knowing how to swim, he managed the crossing, shouting, "Comrades, I'm drowning!" to alert his fellow Soviet soldiers. They rescued him and brought him back to the unit, but unfortunately, Yakovenko did not return.

In another battle, Begeldinov's compatriot, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, fighter pilot Sergey Lugansky, helped him survive.

Talgat Yakubekovich served throughout the entire war. He completed 305 combat sorties, all of them highly perilous. He began as an ordinary pilot and ended the war as the commander of a Guards Air Regiment.

For his achievements in fulfilling combat missions, Talgat Begeldinov was awarded the Order of Lenin, two Orders of the Red Banner, the Orders of Alexander Nevsky, the Red Star, the Order of Glory 3rd Class, and the Orders of the Patriotic War 1st and 2nd Classes. He was awarded a second Gold Star medal on June 27, 1945, for skillful leadership of squadrons and heroic feats during the assault on enemy troops and equipment in the battles for the cities of Krakow, Oppeln (now Opole), Katowice, Breslau (now Wroclaw), and Berlin.

Post-War Years

Talgat Begeldinov was not only a war hero but also a remarkable individual. Even after the war, he remained involved in military affairs: he graduated from the Air Force Academy, served in a ground-attack aviation regiment in Ukraine, and led the staff at the Krasnodar Higher School of Navigators of the Air Force.

He spent 13 years in civil aviation and served as Deputy Chairman of the Civil Aviation Department in Kazakhstan. Even in his later years, he actively participated in the life of the state and society, leading an international fund that aided war veterans.

Talgat Begeldinov passed away in Almaty in 2014 at the age of 92. On May 8, 2021, a bronze and granite monument was erected in his honor in Astana. Today, the name of Talgat Begeldinov is carried by the Air Defense Forces Military Institute in Aktobe.



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