The oldest soldier

On May 30, 1892, in the city of Belozersk, Novgorod province, during a trip from St. Petersburg to his homeland in the Simbirsk province, 107-year-old Vasily Nikolaevich Kochetkov, a man of amazing fate who had served for more than 80 years in the Russian army, suddenly died.

Vasily Nikolaevich was born in 1785 in the Kurmysh district of the Simbirsk province. On March 7, 1811, he entered military service as a musician in the Life Guards Grenadier Regiment.

The young soldier went through the war of 1812, then, as part of the Pavlovsky Life Guards regiment, he participated in the war with Turkey in 1828-1829, and in 1833 he was transferred to the Life Guards Horse Pioneer Division.

In 1836, the 25-year term of service ended, but Vasily Kochetkov decided to continue his military service.

In 1843, the 58-year-old veteran was sent to the Caucasus, where he was wounded three times and spent 9 months in captivity.

In 1849, Kochetkov was promoted to second lieutenant, but refused the officer rank and continued to serve as a soldier.

He retired in 1851, but his military career did not end there.

Two years later, the Crimean War began, and Kochetkov was again called up for active service and sent as part of the Kazan Jaeger Regiment to defend Sevastopol. And the conscript at that time was "only" 68 years old.

After the end of the war, Emperor Alexander II personally transferred the old warrior to the Life Guards Dragoon regiment, and then to the company of the palace grenadiers, where Vasily Nikolaevich was promoted to non-commissioned officers.

In 1869, a gray-haired veteran, hung with numerous awards, submitted a petition to the emperor to send him to Central Asia, where the fighting was going on. Admired by Kochetkov's courage, Alexander II sent him to the Turkestan Horse-Artillery Brigade and personally handed Vasily Nikolayevich 50 rubles before leaving.

In 1874, Kochetkov returned to St. Petersburg and was assigned to the gendarme corps as part of the convoy of the imperial train.

But the quiet service did not last long. In 1876, Kochetkov volunteered for the Serbian army, took part in the defense of Shipka and lost his left leg in one of the battles.

Surprisingly, the elderly warrior survived and was even transferred in 1878 to the Life Guards Horse Artillery Brigade, and at the end of the war he returned to the Palace Grenadier, from where he was dismissed 13 years later.

The infinitely long military career of Vasily Nikolaevich Kochetkov continued under three emperors, in three branches of the army (infantry, cavalry and artillery). He fought in ten military campaigns and received six wounds. The veteran's chest was decorated with 23 awards.

According to the recollections of contemporaries, even in the last years of his life, no one believed that Kochetkov was already over 100 years old and had a difficult life behind him, full of dangers and hardships. Death overtook the gallant soldier quite unexpectedly, at a time when he, having received his dismissal, was returning to his homeland. "