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Soviet orders and medals are milestones in the history of the USSR, a record of the progress made by the world’s first socialist country over the last seventy-odd years. This period was characterised by unexampled valour displayed by the Soviet people in the defence of their Homeland in war and by their heroic efforts in the building of a new society.
An award gives an insight into the life of the person who has received it and the feat he or she performed. An order or medal is historical evidence. It can, for instance, help estab¬lish the name of a person who was listed as missing for many years. In July 1943 Alexander Gorovets, a fighter pilot, engaged 20 Luftwaffe bombers near the town of Kursk (Central Russia). The pilot was killed in the battle, but not before he managed to shoot down nine of the Nazi planes.
Fourteen years later some collective farmers discovered the wreckage of a fighter in their field. The remains of the pilot were identified as Alexander Gorovets, Hero of the Soviet Union, only thanks to the number on the Order of the Red Banner he was wearing.
In some cases it took many years before the award could be presented to the person honoured with it. As of today the USSR Ministry of Defence has not been able to present some million and a half orders and medals, because the officers and men on whom they have been bestowed have not returned from battle or are missing.