„We came on a Studebaker to Přemyšl and I had to make up my mind with which unit I would serve. As a grammar school graduate I had the opportunity to become a navigator. It was expected that the division would be assigned one more regiment of P2 bombers, which needed navigators. You could sense in the air that the end of the war was near so I decided to become a machine gunner. I was assigned to the 3rd air-force battle regiment as a machine gunner and that’s also where I had my training. It was relatively easy and complicated at the same time. The training took place in the winter. Part of the training was in the open, part of it was in the instruction room. After training, the whole division was transferred to Krosna.”
„Look, when we arrived in Katovice the battlefront was just some 20 km away – you could still hear the explosions of artillery fire. It’s interesting, however, that the city already flourished with life again. It was almost like in peacetime – the cafeterias were open, there was music playing and people dancing. It was the same with us. We were only flying during daytime because the planes weren’t suited for night flights, so after dinner, we would make space in the canteen, play some music, dance and have fun. The purpose of this was to make everything resemble normal peace-time life as closely as possible. I understand it now – it was important to forget for the moment that we were going to fly again the next day. It was essential to create an atmosphere of joy and satisfaction. It worked well for us because we were young. We didn’t think too much about the possibility that we could die. The risk was there, of course, but nobody would think about it too much.”
„So he attacked, up to a height of 200 meters. Then he turned it back, which is extremely uncomfortable for the gunner, because he did a so-called “anti-zenith” maneuver - an anti-aircraft maneuver. He was trying to avoid the artillery and machinegun fire. The pilot was seated right in the center of the plane, so it wasn’t a big thing for him, but the gunner, who sat in the very rear of the plane, was hurled about – it was nasty. You practically couldn’t do anything but wait for the pilot to put the plane back into the horizontal position again. I remember that once, when the pilot did this maneuver, I almost fell out of the strap belt – I ended up hanging upside down and the machine gun slipped out of my hands. I was totally helpless until the pilot evened it out. So that’s one of my experiences from these days.”
„I come from eastern Slovakia from the town of Michalovce, that’s – according to the family tree that I’ve studied – where all of my family comes from. I have a sibling, a sister who lives in Michalovce. I come to see her twice a year. My father and my mother died. They were farmers. My father was in the Czechoslovak legions in Russia in the First World War. After he returned from Russia in 1919, he married my mother. I was born in 1921.”
„My first academic studies were in the Soviet Union, in Monin, which is about 40 km from Moscow. I have to say that these studies were the most useful and prolific in my whole life. I learned to think logically and to make conclusions. I was able to profit from what I’ve learned at this academy throughout my entire military career. It was an academy specializing in the air forces. Great heroes like Kožedub – a four-time hero of the USSR – and Pokryškin studied there. That’s also where I got to know them. My second academic studies were in Moscow at a two year school of higher military learning for superior officers. I attended this school already as a chief of staff of the air forces.”
We didn’t think too much about the possibility that we could die
Genpor. v. v. Joseph Činčár was born in 1921 in Michalovice. His father was a former member of the Czechoslovak legions that fought in Soviet Russia on the eve of the First World War. Due to his father‘s work, the whole family had to move to Carpathian Ruthenia. His parents and his sister stayed in Carpathian Ruthenia while the young Joseph went to Michalovce to study at a grammar school, from which he graduated in 1942. In the years 1942-1944 he served as a rank and file soldier with the air-force regiment of the Slovak army. In 1944 he fled to Poland, where the Czechoslovak army was just being formed. After his training in the Czechoslovak army he became a pilot. He participated in the battle for the liberation of Czechoslovakia. After the war, in 1945, he was promoted to officer and stayed in the army as a professional soldier. In 1948 he was sent to study at the War Academy in Monin (USSR), from which he graduated in 1951. He was appointed chief of the department of combat preparation and after two years he was promoted to chief of the Czechoslovak air forces. From 1955 to 1957 he attended another war academy, this time in Moscow. In 1969 he was nominated head of the Department of Defense and Security of the government presidency headed by Mr. Černík. From 1970 to 1973 he was chief of the air forces and air defense of the state and additionally deputy of the minister of defense. From 1973 to 1978 he was a military and air-force attaché in Moscow. In the years 1978 to 1981 he was the vice-president of the central committee‘s Svazarm (Union for the Cooperation with the Army) responsible for the air forces. He was promoted to lieutenant general in 1970. Josef Činčár died on August, the 10th, 2013.