Soviet WWII Veteran Celebrates One Hundredth Birthday

Ilia Starodubsky, better known as Ilia Stark, is a Soviet WWII veteran with a very accomplished career. After his service, he made his living in the field of science. He eventually moved to the United States and gained citizenship. The former Soviet WWII veteran now lives in Pinehurst, in North Carolina. He recently celebrated his one hundredth birthday. Despite his age, he is still able to recall his experiences during the war as if they were yesterday.

In December, Ilia and his wife, Mania, will celebrate their seventy-fifth wedding anniversary. Their marriage has not always been an easy one, especially when he was at war. This was through no fault of his own, but rather due to the fact that Mania was informed more than once during the war that Ilia had been killed. The WWII veteran not only survived these false death notices, but has gone on to live for another seventy years after the fighting ended. He certainly came close to death on a number of occasions, fighting in numerous battles. The most famous of these battles was the Battle of Stalingrad.

At Stalingrad, Stark was in charge of an anti-aircraft unit. He was lucky to survive, as nearly half a million Soviets are estimated to have died in half a year of fighting. Looking back, the WWII veteran says that the Soviets were aware of just how important this battle would be in the grand scheme of things. If not for the soldiers who laid their lives on the line to protect Russia from the Germans, Nazi forces might have easily broken through to Moscow.

According to Stark, Russia was not prepared for Germany to invade their territory. He was in his mid-twenties when he joined the war effort, and climbed the ranks from private the sergeant by the end of the conflict. The WWII veteran was believed dead during one particular stretch of the battle during which nearly everyone in his unit was killed. His other death notice was sometime after the Battle of Stalingrad had ended, when the Soviets lost track of Stark’s records after he transferred units. The transfer was fortunate, however, as many people from his old unit were sent to the front lines of the battle, the reports.

As a WWII veteran, Stark has lived a fortunate life. He easily could have been killed with the rest of his unit during the Battle of Stalingrad, and he might have lost his life on the front lines if he hadn’t been transferred. Instead, he was able to live a long life with his wife and two daughters. The WWII veteran currently suffers from a medical condition for which he has to receive a blood transfusion every single month, but he is currently still alive and functioning well.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE