Romania’s last World War II fighter pilot dies aged 102

Foto: MApN

Romania’s last surviving World War II fighter pilot who fought against the Soviets, the Germans and Americans has died, an aviation group  said Friday.

Missions

Gen Lt Ion Dobran took part in 340 war missions, fought in 74 air battles, had 11 air victories during the war which ended with the communist takeover. One airplane he flew was destroyed on the ground,” a defense ministry statement said.

He was downed three times and escaped each time „without serious injury.”

He was “a veteran aviator and hero of the Second World War,” the ministry said. There were no details about the circumstances or date of his death.

Model of honor

The ministry called him “a symbol, a model of honor and military dignity and source of admiration and respect for the young generation.”

He had “ a real passion for flying” and led a life of “firm principles and high ideals.”

Ion Dobran graduated the Military School of Aviation Officers in 1941 when Romania was an ally of the Nazis, the Alexandru Şerbănescu Aviator Foundation said.

Bombardments

He fought against the Soviets on the eastern front and against the Americans during the 1944 bombardments.

After Romania switched sides, he fought against the Germans and took part in the war until the very last day on May 9, 1945.

In his diary, he recalled a fight on the eastern front. „It was a miserable and muddy …. The Russians were getting braver and braver. We were stuck in sticky mud and couldn’t move. My bronchitis would not go away and I was losing weight; I was under 60 kilograms,” he said. ” But I WON’T GIVE UP,” he ended.

Communists

After the war, his family had their house expropriated by the communists. He later managed to get a job as a pilot for the national airline Tarom thanks to someone who had served under him during the war.

After that, he became a commercial pilot for charter planes, transporting pheasants and rabbits to Italy and France, Adevarul reported.

In his years as a commercial pilot, he refused to fly to Russia and maintained a mistrust of the Russians.

100th birthday

The Air Force organized a ceremony to celebrate his 100th birthday on February 5, 2019.

President Klaus Iohannis made him a lieutenant-general and awarded him the distinction of knight for acts of bravery in the air, “the ministry said.

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