Vladimir Karpovich


Vladimir Karpovich Pikalov was Head of the Chemical troops of the USSR Ministry of Defense, Colonel-General. He was born on September 15, 1924 in Armavir, Krasnodar Krai in the family of an employee, a former Red Army soldier during the Civil War. . He graduated from the 9th grade of secondary school. He was drafted into the Red Army in June 1941 by the Kiselevsky city military enlistment office of Ordzhonikidze (now Stavropol) Krai. In February 1942 he graduated from the Rostov Artillery School. However, even before his graduation, as part of a cadet battalion in October-November 1941, he took part in battles with the Nazi invaders on the outskirts of Rostov. Immediately after graduation, he was sent to the active army to the front of the Great Patriotic War. Since March 1942 he fought on the Western, Stalingrad, Don, Steppe and 2nd Belorussian fronts. He took part in the Battle of Moscow, the Voronezh-Voroshilovgrad defensive operation of the summer-autumn of 1942, in the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, in the Belarusian offensive operation and in other battles. He held the positions of platoon commander of the 584th fighter-anti-tank Artillery Regiment, Assistant Chief of Artillery Staff of the 233rd Infantry Division in the 64th and 53rd armies, deputy commander and commander of an artillery battery in the 290th Guards fighter-anti-tank artillery regiment of the 27th fighter-anti-tank artillery Brigade, officer reconnaissance of a howitzer artillery regiment. He was wounded in battles: in July 1944 – easily and in March 1945 – seriously, he met the day of the Great Victory in the hospital. For his bravery, he was awarded three orders and several medals at the front. After the end of the war, he was transferred to the chemical troops. In 1952 he graduated from the Military Academy of Chemical Protection named after K.E. Voroshilov. He served as the head of the chemical service of the motorized rifle division, since 1954 – senior combat training officer of the district headquarters, since 1960 – deputy chief, and since 1962 – head of the chemical troops of the Baltic Military District. Member of the CPSU (b)/CPSU in 1949-1991.  In 1968 he graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR. In 1968-1969 he served as Deputy Head of the Military Academy of Chemical Protection. In 1969 he was appointed Head of the chemical troops of the USSR Ministry of Defense. During 19 years of service in this position, he proved himself to be an initiative and decisive leader. He carried out the re-equipment of troops with new equipment and weapons. In particular, he achieved the adoption of a powerful jet flamethrower, which under the name “Pinocchio” proved itself well in combat operations in the North Caucasus in the 1990s and 2000s, and in those years almost disappeared at the development stage. In general, former subordinates called the ability to take full responsibility for any new business and a close relationship with science and industry, which allowed them to immediately introduce the latest developments into the troops, the main distinguishing features of their supervisor. He had 144 certificates of author’s inventions to his credit. The most heroic and difficult page in the biography of General V.K. Pikalov was the Chernobyl disaster. Having received the news of the tragedy at 7 o’clock in the morning on April 26, 1986, at 12 o’clock he was already in Pripyat. Having organized a temporary command post, he began to study the situation and realized that no one knows anything. The nearest units of chemical troops were alerted and moved to the crash site, but they need time to arrive, deploy, and organize work. And there was just no time. Then the General personally carried out a circular radiation reconnaissance of the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the APC, revealed the direction of radiation propagation and the movement of the radioactive cloud. In place of the driver was a volunteer from the conscript soldiers, to whom the General made such a request and explained both the responsibility and the danger of the upcoming reconnaissance. When the first military units approached the crash site, the scheme of the most dangerous areas of the terrain was already ready, which made it possible to start performing combat tasks on the move. Until mid-May, General V.K. Pikalov was in the accident zone almost hopeless, flying to Moscow several times for a report. In the future, he personally came to the crash site to manage all responsible activities several times a month. Although the troops, along with their direct combat tasks of radiation reconnaissance and decontamination of equipment and terrain, were involved in performing tasks that were not typical of them, the chemical troops showed high skill in Chernobyl, having completed all the tasks assigned. By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dated December 24, 1986, Colonel-General Vladimir Karpovich Pikalov was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union with the award of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal for courage and selfless work shown during the liquidation of the Chernobyl accident and elimination of its consequences. At the beginning of 1989, Colonel-General V.K. Pikalov was dismissed. However, he continued to actively participate in the life of chemical troops, patriotic and veteran work. Since 1995 he had been a member of the editorial board of the journal “Military Historical Archive”. He lived in the city of Moscow.

Address: Moscow, Frunzenskaya nab., 22, p. 2