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Tags: ukraine | russia

Ukraine's Top Gun 'Ghost of Kyiv' Killed in Action

Ukraine's Top Gun 'Ghost of Kyiv' Killed in Action
A Spanish Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon II next to a Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29. (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 29 April 2022 05:11 PM EDT

The Ukrainian fighter pilot known as the "Ghost of Kyiv" for reportedly taking out dozens of Russian aircraft was killed in action, The Times of London reports.

The pilot's identity had previously been unknown, however, the Times publicly identified the war hero as Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29-year-old father of one.

It is believed Tarabalka shot down up to 40 Russian aircraft before he himself was shot down March 13 while engaging with an "overwhelming" number of enemy planes, the newspaper said.

Becoming a mythical figure from the outset of the war, the then-anonymous pilot was credited by the Ukrainian government with bringing down six Russian jets on Day One of the invasion.

"People call him the Ghost of Kyiv. And rightly so," an official tweet said, noting he had "already become a nightmare for invading Russian aircraft."

Ukraine's general staff followed up with another picture of the ace fighter pilot in the cockpit of his MiG-29 jet, his face covered, with the caption, "Hello, occupier, I'm coming for your soul!"

According to his family, Tarabalka was posthumously awarded Ukraine's highest medal for bravery in combat, the Order of the Golden Star, and was given the title Hero of Ukraine.

The Times reports that his helmet and goggles were expected to go on sale at auction soon in London.

Many questioned if the "Ghost" was even real, as his identity was cloaked in mystery, with his own family apparently unaware of his secret identity.

His parents, Nahtalia and Evon Tarabalka, were interviewed by NPR shortly after his death and did not give any indication that they knew what missions he had flown.

"We know he was flying on a mission," his father told the news outlet. "And he completed the mission, his task. Then he didn't return. That's all the information we have."

Tarabalka's parents told NPR of how their son dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot while growing up next to a military airfield in the village of Korolivka.

"Since early childhood, he always dreamed of the sky, about flying higher than the clouds," his mother said through a translator.

"He would always watch the paratroopers in their air exercises," she said. "And he would run in their direction to try to see where they landed."

His parents told NPR their son made his dream come true without any military connections.

"Becoming a pilot, it was his own effort," Nahtalia said. "He did it all himself. I just helped with prayers."

Tarabalka leaves behind a wife, Olenia, and 8-year-old son Yarik.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Newsfront
The Ukrainian fighter pilot known as the "Ghost of Kyiv" for reportedly taking out dozens of Russian aircraft was killed in action, The Times of London reports.
ukraine, russia
423
2022-11-29
Friday, 29 April 2022 05:11 PM
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