Some of the most adored heroes of World War II have risen from the ranks. One particularly interesting true to life story is that of Vasily Zaitsev, one of the most famous snipers out of the Russian Army.
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Vasily started as a humble shepherd boy who used to help out his grandfather in the snow fields of Siberia to tend to their flock. There were many predators around that would often sneak up on sheep. In particular, wolves frequented the area. This was when Vasily’s grandfather taught him how to use a rifle at a very early age.
This knowledge and early experience easily made Vasily a natural when it came to handling a long range gun. He easily found his way to the Russian army because of his skill.
It was in Stalingrad where Vasily Zaitsev served his country with the best that he knew. This was in the middle of the war between Russia, and the Adolf Hitler-led German army. Stalingrad was a messy warpath, having recorded about 2 million lost lives in a span of eight months.
Zaitsev wasted no bullets. For him, it was one shot, one kill. From his crude training in the Siberian snow, he obviously learned well from protecting sheep against the wolves. But in Stalingrad, he seemed to be the predator. In his first ten days with his Mosin-Nagant rifle as a sniper for the Soviet 1047th Rifle Regiment, he shot down 40 Nazis from long distance.
By the end of his service, he had 242 confirmed kills under his belt, including Berlin’s sniping champion, who was a cold-blooded killer himself. Lieutenant Vasily Zaitsev eventually gained the Soviet Union’s top award for bravery and skill. He won the hearts of the rest of the world too.
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