When Natalia Peshkova was a girl in high school, during the early years of World War II, women were not allowed to join the Russian Army. Nevertheless, the women of Russia wanted to help, just like women from most of the Allied nations. As the war went on, the need for soldiers brought women into the draft…like it or not. Peshkova found herself recruited right out of high school, and at the age of 17, she was set to be a combat medic.
Things were tough in the arena Peshkova found herself in. The poorly equipped unit was faced with weapons that continuously malfunctioned…not a good thing to defend yourself with. Peshkova’s stint in the Russian army was filled with constant disease, starvation, and even the loss of a boot to a hungry horse, while she slept. To say the least, life in the Russian army was tough.
Despite the hardships, Peshkova did her duty as a combat medic, protecting and helping soldiers that were wounded on the front lines as much as she could. Her training taught her to protect wounded soldiers from the front and get them safely to hospitals, often placing herself in possible harm’s way. While she was trained to apply first aid, her main duty was always to remove wounded men from the front line. Trying to do first aid on the front lines was a dangerous maneuver for both soldier and medic. Peshkova was wounded three times for her efforts, but she had a kind of strength and determination that was unmatched in the field, and she always returned to the front when she had healed. I’m sure many people thought she was half crazy.
At one point, Peshkova got separated from her unit, finding herself behind enemy lines when the Germans took over territory previously held by the Russians. She had to act fast, so she disguised herself, while also hiding her weapon, because if she discarded it, she would have been executed by her own military. She finally made it back to her unit and survived three years on the front lines. She rose through the ranks to become Sergeant Major, and was then given political education duties that finally relived her from life on the front lines. Natalia Peshkova was truly one of a kind, and was awarded the Order of the Red Star for Bravery.