Female Badasses in History: Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was born in Ukraine in 1916. She and her family moved to Kiev where she not only joined a shooting club but also Kiev University to study history, completing her master’s degree in 1937. She never finished her doctoral degree because of the Nazi-German attack against the Soviet Union in 1941. She was among the first ones to volunteer at her local recruiting office and was assigned to an infantry unit where she rejected the offer to become a nurse but became one of 2000 Soviet female snipers instead.
During her service in the Red Army she became one of the most successful snipers in military history with 309 confirmed kills. She also became an iconic figure for the Soviet war effort leading her to tour the United States and even meet FDR in 1942 after being wounded by mortar fire in combat. She stated that her tour of the US had been a confusing experience especially due to one reporter in Washington DC criticizing the length of her skirt and saying her uniform made her look fat.
Due to her injuries sustained in 1942 she never returned to combat but became an instructor for the remaining time of her military service. She finished her carrier in the military in the rank of major and was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest honor a Soviet soldier could receive.
After the war she began a successful career as a historian. She died in 1974 at age 58. The Soviet Union honored her memory by issuing two sets of memorial stamps.
Woodie Guthry released a song about her honoring her war record that can be heard here:
Woody Guthrie: Miss Paclichenko