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Jewish Gunner Among Soviet Heroes Decorated for Saving Russian Freighter Bombed by Nazis

A young Soviet Jewish, gunner who manned his anti-aircraft gun while Nazi dive bombers attacked his vessel and other crew members were fighting a fire in the ship’s hold which threatened to reach the stores of ammunition being carried to Russia was lauded yesterday by the captain of the Russian freighter in an interview at the Hotel Commodore.

Capt. Ivan Afanasiev, his first mate Constantin Petrovsky and first class seaman Boris Akazenok related how their vessel, part of a convoy bound for Russia with American armaments, was struck by a 1,000-pound bomb which started a fire in the hold where the munitions were stored. While the members of the crew who had escaped injury when the bomb fell, together with three stewardesses, fought the fire, Sioma Shtangart, 22, stayed at his gun on the upper deck continuing to pour ack-ack fire into the Nazi raiders. Eventually the blaze was brought under control and the ship rejoined the convoy. The Jewish gunner as well as Capt. Afanasiev, First Mate Petrovsky and seaman Akazenok received the Order of Lenin for their heroism. Shtangart, Capt. Afanasiev disclosed, is now at the front in Russia continuing to fight off Nazi bombers.