13. From a Nobody to a National Hero
Dmitry Ovcharenko eventually wore himself out chasing the Germans with an ax, and returned to his cart, whose vicinity by then was a field of carnage. He collected all the maps and documents and weapons off the dead enemy soldiers, loaded them in the cart, and delivered them to the headquarters of the 389th Regiment. When he explained what had happened, he was not believed at first – not until his comrades inspected the scene of his one-man rampage, and saw the gruesome evidence scattered all over the place.
Having killed twenty one German soldiers with grenades and beheaded two German officers with an ax, Ovcharenko was awarded a Hero of the Soviet Union decoration. As a military historian put it: “Ovcharenko showed wit and extraordinary courage, taking advantage of the confusion of the Germans. I think that he was a man of unbending will, devoted to his duty, land, and homeland. And striving to liberate his native land from fascist invaders by any means“. Dmitry Ovcharenko soldiered on until the war’s final year, until he was fatally injured in Hungary. He died of his wounds on January 28, 1945.