Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub was born on June 8, 1920 in the village of Obrazhievka, Chernigov province. After graduating from school in 1934, he entered the Chemical Technology College in the city of Shostka. Then Ivan became interested in aviation, studying at the Shostka flying club, where he came in 1938. Here he made his first flight, graduated from parachute jumping and flying courses, flying on PO-2 and U-2 aircraft.
In 1940, Kozhedub was drafted into the Red Army and was soon assigned to study at the Chuguev Military Aviation School. As one of the best cadets, after completing the course in 1941, Ivan was left at the school as an instructor.
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, together with the aviation school, Sergeant Kozhedub was evacuated to Central Asia. During this period, he stubbornly studied the issues of tactics and descriptions of air battles. In the autumn of 1942, after numerous reports asking him to be sent to the front, Kozhedub was seconded to the 240th Fighter Aviation Regiment.
He made his first sortie in March 1943, but unsuccessfully – his La-5 aircraft was damaged in battle. Kozhedub opened a combat account in 1943 on the Kursk Bulge, shooting down the German Junkers-87. The combat skill of the pilot was constantly improved, and the number of downed enemy aircraft increased literally every day.
In August 1944, Kozhedub was appointed deputy commander of the 176th Guards Aviation Regiment, which was re-equipped with new La-7 fighters. Kozhedub got a plane with tail number “27”, on which he fought until the end of the war, and now this aircraft is an adornment of the Monino Aviation Museum.
Throughout the war, Ivan Nikitovich was never shot down. He knew how to instantly navigate in any combat situation and masterfully owned a machine. During the war years, Kozhedub made 330 sorties, in 120 air battles he personally shot down 64 enemy aircraft. For high military skill, personal courage and courage, he was three times awarded the “Gold Star” of the Hero of the Soviet Union.
After the war of the Guards, the major continued to serve in the Air Force, in 1949 he graduated from the Red Banner Air Force Academy, and in 1956 from the Academy of the General Staff. At the same time, he remained an active fighter pilot, mastering jet MiG-15s. During the Korean War (1951-1952), Kozhedub commanded a division there, whose pilots scored 216 air victories. Kozhedub not only carried out operational leadership of the division, but also took an active part in the organization and training of the PRC Air Force.
Since 1958, he served as First Deputy Air Force Commander of the Leningrad and then Moscow military districts. The units led by Kozhedub have always been highly trained and have a low accident rate. He retired from flying work in 1970 and in subsequent years served in the central office of the Air Force and in the Group of Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense. In 1985, Kozhedub was awarded the highest military rank of Air Marshal.
All this time, Kozhedub also did a lot of public work. He was a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, a member of the Presidium of the DOSAAF Central Committee, chairman or president of dozens of different societies, committees and federations, spoke a lot, held meetings, gave interviews … He is the author of the books “Serving the Motherland”, “Loyalty to the Fatherland” and others.
The talented pilot Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub died on August 8, 1991 in Moscow from a heart attack, was buried at the Novodevichy cemetery.
A bronze bust of the Hero was installed in the homeland of the pilot, as well as a memorial sign on the site of the house in which he was born, in the cities of Sumy and Kiev – monuments. In the city of Shostka, a museum of I.N. Kozhedub. Kharkiv Air Force University, Shostka College of Chemical Technology, streets and parks in the cities of Russia and Ukraine are named after him.