lieutenant a participant in World War II Hero of the Soviet Union (08.18.1945)

 He was born on May 8, 1923 in the village of Belomestnoy Kriusha (now – Tambov district of the Tambov region) in a peasant family. Russian. He graduated from 9 classes and 2 courses of an automotive college in Tambov.

In the Red Army since July 1941. In 1944 he graduated from the Tambov Military Aviation Pilot School. On the fronts of World War II since June 1944. Senior pilot of the 569th Assault Aviation Regiment (199th Assault Aviation Division, 4th Assault Aviation Corps, 4th Air Army, 2nd Belorussian Front)

He proved himself in operations to break through the enemy’s fortified line in the Bobruisk direction. He took part in the destruction of the enemy’s encircled group on the 1st Belorussian Front, as well as in the breakthrough of the enemy’s fortified line in the Mlava direction and in the destruction of the East Prussian group. He participated in the East Pomeranian operation and in the breakthrough of the fortified strip on the western bank of the Oder River.

On June 27, the group flew to the area southeast of Borisov (Minsk region) with the task of destroying enemy firepower and equipment. In a zone of strong anti-aircraft fire, risking his life, he boldly attacked the target, as a result of which he destroyed 5 vehicles, 3 carts and 30 soldiers and officers.

On June 29, during an assault on an enemy convoy on the Berezino-Pogost road (Minsk region), two Me-109 aircraft attacked the group. Leonov repelled the attack of one of them, trying to get into the tail of the presenter, set fire to two cars under heavy anti-aircraft fire, detonated a fuel tank and destroyed over 10 soldiers and officers.

On August 13, Leonov was given the task of suppressing an anti-aircraft battery in the area northwest of the village of Osovets (Krichevsky district of the Mogilev region), which interfered with target processing. Having found a battery at the edge of the forest, he dropped his bomb load right on target, thereby ensuring the combat work of all groups working to destroy the enemy’s retreating forces. In this attack, he was injured and with a bloodshot face brought the plane to his airfield.

On January 17, 1945, while carrying out a mission to destroy the enemy’s retreating forces, in the Noenburg region, Leonov discovered a convoy of cars, which he reported on the radio to the group’s leader. The group commander decided to attack the convoy. As a result, the group destroyed 15 vehicles. During the mission, Leonov’s plane was shot down. On a burning plane, he flew over the front line and landed it on his territory.

Striking the retreating enemy, Leonov destroyed two batteries, more than 15 vehicles, set fire to the fuel warehouse.

Flying on the Il-2 attack plane, by May 1945 it had made 106 sorties for bombing and attacking enemy troops and defensive installations, inflicting heavy damage on manpower and military equipment to the enemy. He destroyed 8 tanks, 108 cars, 6 steam locomotives, 120 wagons with military equipment and troops, set fire to 130 cars, blew up 11 warehouses with fuel and ammunition, crushed 56 artillery batteries, killed and wounded over 300 enemy soldiers and officers.

By a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of August 18, 1945, “For the exemplary performance of command tasks and the courage and heroism shown at the same time”, lieutenant Leonov Ivan Mikhailovich was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Since 1957, Major Leonov is in stock. He lived in the city of Nevinnomyssk, Stavropol Territory, worked as a bus station dispatcher.

He died on November 21, 2000.