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Hans Rudel
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    (July 2, 1916-December 22, 1982)
    Most decorated German soldier of WW II
    Fought primarily on the Eastern Front
    Flew the Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka Dive Bomber'
    Published his war diary, 'Trotzdem (Nevertheless)'
    He was a poor student, beginning the war as a near-washout in pilot training.
    He was Hitler's favorite soldier.
    He destroyed thousands of
    Russian vehicles, including 519 tanks, 800+ cars and trucks, 4 armored trains and a battleship.
    He turned himself in to the Americans after Germany surrendered because he feared what the Russians might do to him.
    He never denounced Nazi ideology and embarrassed the German government several times with extreme right-wing statements.
    In 1953 he tried to run for office under the ultraconservative Deutsche Reichspartei (DRP), but was unsuccessful.
    He is sometimes idolized by Neo-Nazis.
    He was the most highly decorated German combatant of WW II, and the most highly decorated pilot ever.
    He was the only recipient of the Knight's Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords & Diamonds.
    He flew 2,530 combat missions, the most by any pilot in any war.
    He was shot down 32 times.
    He continued to fly even after losing a leg in combat.
    He would often land to pick up downed pilots, often in range of enemy anti-air guns and at great risk to himself.
    As a POW he befriended several Americans, who were extremely impressed with his wartime feats and courage.

Credit: Aviator

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