ArtOfWar. Творчество ветеранов последних войн. Сайт имени Владимира Григорьева

Sibiryakov Dmitry
Interview with military specialist. English translation

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  I would like to start with a question about your personal data. Last name, forename, patronym, birthplace.
  - Skrebl"ukov Alexey Ivanovich , 03/21/1944, Kazakhstan, Zapadno- Kazakhstanskaya oblast, Kamenskiy district, khutor Vavilin.
  - You are a veteran of the Vietnam War, aren"t you?
  - Yes, I was there in the action since 09/02/65 till 04/20/1966.
  - How old were you then?
  - 21-22.
  - How did you happen to come to Vietnam? Were you a volunteer? ДЛЯ Т.Г.: Тут неясная фраза по-русски: что такое отправить на войну по набору? У автора: Вы добровольно направились на Вьетнамскую войну или по набору?
  - At that time I was a platoon commander in the SAM regiment of the 26 air-defense division, in Irkutsk. Once I came to work and got to know that all my soldiers had already written requests, where they said that they wanted to go to Vietnam, to defend the Vietnam air against the US aggressors.
  - As far as I know, in Vietnam you served in a communication crew within auxiliary anti-air missile troops?
  - At first I served there in the 236 air-defense regiment. But soon I joined a newly organized communication crew where I began to train Vietnamese comrades, Vietnamese communicators, to use and repair the radio communication set R-284. It was a ground radio installation that provided communication with jet-fighters MiG -21 (Fishbeds) in Hanoi.
  - What was you rank when you came to Vietnam?
  - I came and left in a rank of a lieutenant.
  - Can you describe your feelings on your way there?
  - I had only one feeling - I had to protect civilians against American bombers.
  - Did you believe in victory, in your right course?
  - Absolutely. We believed in Vietnamese victory under any circumstances.
  - What day, or what moment, was the most difficult?
  - The most difficult moment was on the day of arrival. We"re were just brought to our lodgings, knowing nothing about the Americans" disposition, when they started an air attack. If you don"t know where you are, and what"s going on, and where to run... It was one of the most unpleasant moments. Another one happened on the last day, the19 of April 1966, on our way back, in Hanoi. From the airport we went sightseeing, took boats at the Lake of Unity, and when we were in the middle of it, an air attack began, and we were absolutely helpless... We couldn"t jump into the water, there was no escape. In fact, they were shooting us down. These were the most unpleasant moments.
  - Thank you.
  - What was your attitude to the enemy: what did you think of American pilots?
  - They were enemies. They ignored everything, ignored that they were bombing civilians... everything. Were shooting, bombing. They were my personal enemies.
  - Have you ever seen captured pilots?
  - No, I haven"t. I"ve heard a lot. But never seen.
  - What is your opinion on the Northen Vietnam air defense system.
  - The Northen Vietnam air defense system. I was in Vietnam at the very beginning, when its air defense system had been only being deployed. We didn"t know exactly how to operate it. We did what we thought correct. It was like a game, like a football match when our town team played against a neighbourhood team. We thought we were heroes.
  - Your relations with Vietnamese.
  - The relations were warm and friendly. They liked us. And always crowded around us, especially children, cheered and greeted. Followed us. We always felt their concern. They all were very attentive to Soviet soldiers and officers. They tried to take care of us during air raids.
  - What can you tell about the climate?
   - It"s very hot. We had ZIL-157 packed with our equipment and radio sets, but without any kind of conditioners. We had none of them. The transmitter units, for e.g. lamps as big as a human head or half a humane height were getting hot, so in our trucks it was hotter than outside - up to 60 С. Even our Vietnamese colleges who operated or repaired the systems couldn"t stand it.
  I"d like to add something. Once I read about a Soviet officer, an antiaircrafter, who fell ill because in his room it was about + 60 C, while outside it was +35 C. Vietnamese docs saved his life.
  Such things took place regularly. When it"s too hot, everyone began to snuffle. When we arrived we"ve got rotten in the armpits and in the groins. It was rotten there, and we walked like free-style wrestlers - legs a bit apart, arms apart. Acclimatization took about two weeks, not less.
  - Can you tell something about the relationships between soldiers and officers?
  - First, the relationships were determined by military charter, and second, we were at war, so all of us felt personal responsibility. Soldiers addressed to officers by name and patronym, officers addressed soldiers only by name, for to make a distinction. The order was absolute. I cannot imagine a situation when a subordinate could refuse to keep to instructions or to accomplish a task.
  - What can you tell about army supplies? Your unit supplies? Did you feel the support of the Soviet Union?
  - We were Soviet people and we had no support except that from the Soviet Union. We had definite problems with food - the Vietnamese dishes are too different. We missed even a taste of Russian bread. We sang: I"ll give a kingdom for a top-crust of bread and for a herring rudder. Vietnamese prepared folks, spoons, when they knew we were coming. We learned to eat with sticks, but if we were sent somewhere we always had in the baggage own folk and spoon for to eat as Russians.
  - I read of the Minister of the Defence New Year address and his parcels. Did you receive them?
  - It was 1966 New Year. The Minister of Defence then was Marshal Malinovskiy who once fought in the international troops in Spain. We each got 6-7 loaves of bread, herrings, vodka in soldiers" ration, and vodka and cognac in officers". We all got caviar. Officers and soldiers got nearly the same presents. We were glad and grateful.
  - As far as I know, there was no difference between soldiers" and officers" ration?
  - No difference at all. In Vietnam we ate from one pot.
  - Once I happened to speak to an officer, who took part in the Great Patriotic War. He said that an officer is a soldier with an extra ration.
  - No, there was no such a difference in Vietnam. We all were sitting at one and the same table and eating one and the same food.
  - Who provided you medical assistance? What was your medical staff - Vietnamese or Soviet?
  - Mainly, they were Vietnamese army doctors, but not only. When somebody got seriously ill we were sent to Hanoi, to civil hospitals for checkup. It didn"t concern me, I never fell ill in Vietnam.
  - No illnesses, battle injuries or contusions?
  - No battle injuries or contusions, but on my return home I"ve got a skin decease which I think to be a result. They didn"t want to enroll me because of it when I decided to enter the Military Academy of Signal Corps.
  - Do you have awards for the Vietnam War?
  - Yes. The Order of the Red Star and the Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Force, 3 grade. I got them here, not in Vietnam. But most of all I appreciate the Medal for Courage. ДЛЯ ТГ: здесь наверняка ошибка: не Железный крест, а Георгиевский. Железный был у немцев, вряд ли наш офицер с ним сравнил бы а при царе был Георгиевский, из серебра. It"s like a St.-George Cross before the Revolution. And when I shot down my 400-th aircraft the Vietnamese awarded me with the Medal of Friendship and the Order of the First Victory.
  - Did you write letters from Vietnam?
  - Yes, I wrote letters and also received a lot of letters. Those letters to my wife helped me I started to write a book. They were mostly censored, but some letters I sent with friends who were leaving Vietnam, and there, in those letters, were forbidden details.

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