Aleksandra Grigoryevna Samusenko, born 1922 in Chita, began her tour of duty as a private in aninfantry platoon. Later she successfully finished the tank academy. Samusenko received her Order of the Red Star when her tank crew defeated three German Tiger tanks. Later Samusenko participated in the Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive.
World War II veteran and writer Fabian Garin, in his book Tsvety na tankakh (The Flowers on Tanks), mentions an episode from Samusenko’s personal life, when a certain Mindlin, who fell in love with her, asked her “not to smoke and drink”. Samusenko parried with “Maybe you have fallen in love?”, kissed him on the head and stopped smoking and drinking thereafter.
US Army Sergeant Joseph Beyrle, a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne’s “Screaming Eagles” division, the liberators of my birth town Eindhoven, who had escaped from Stalag III-C POW Camp in Alt Drewitz. in early January 1945, encountered Samusenko’s tank brigade in the middle of January. Beyrle, one of only a few American soldiers known to have served with both the United States Army and the Soviet Army in World War II, was eventually able to persuade her to allow him to fight alongside the unit on its way to Berlin, thus beginning a month-long stint in a Soviet tank battalion where his demolitions expertise was appreciated. Beyrle, who said that Samusenko lost both her husband and entire family during the war, cited Samusenko as a symbol of the fortitude and courage displayed by the Soviet people in that period.
Joseph Beyrle died in his sleep of heart failure on 12-12-2004 during a visit to Tocca, Georgia, where he had trained with paratroopers in 1942. He was 81. He was buried with honors in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery in April, 2005.
Samusenko died from wounds in the German village of Zulzfitz (70 km from Berlin) during the East Pomeranian Offensive. According to World War II veteran Pyotr Demidov, she was crushed under the tracks of a tank, which did not notice the accompanying people in the darkness. She 22-23, was buried in Lobez, Poland, near the monument to the King of Prussia William I.