Ihor Ploskonos was born on April 26, 1959, in the town of Pavlohrad in Dniepropetrovsk region in the family of a worker. His father, Mykola Makarovych, served in the artillery during the Great Patriotic War, was wounded several times; he was awarded the Order of Red Star. His mother, Mariia Yakivna, also served at the front; she ended the war in the rank of sergeant of medical service. But at juvenile age, the heartbreak overtook him – his parents died in the car accident.
The boy was not left alone with his inconsolable grief – his teachers and neighbours helped him to go through it all. Only thanks to such caring people, the 14-year-old boy entered Kyiv Suvorov Military School and his fate was predestined.
In 1976, after finishing Suvorov Military School, Ihor Ploskonos continued his studies in Baku High Combined Arms Commanding College named after Azerbaijan SSR Supreme Soviet. In the command school, Ihor was keen on sports and became the officers’ multiathlon master of sports, and he also joined the Trans-Caucasian military district combined team.
After finishing military college, lieutenant Ploskonos received an appointment to the Far East military district decorated with the Order of Red Banner, where he took the lead over the air assault platoon. In December, 1981, his military unit received an order concerning the selection of officers to serve in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The desire to serve there expressed several officers, including lieutenant Ploskonos.
In Afghanistan, lieutenant Ploskonos was appointed deputy commander for paraborne training in reconnaissance airborne company of 783rd separate reconnaissance battalion of 201st motorized rifle division (MRD) in Kunduz.
Later, Ihor Ploskonos was appointed as a commander of reconnaissance landing company of 783rd reconnaissance battalion of 201st motorized rifle division. It was a severe test. Not everyone could be a commander of the reconnaissance company in Afghanistan in 1981-1984, withstand it all and, in addition to that successfully accomplish the assigned tasks. In 1981-1984 the activity of armed opposition groups reached its all-time high. Besides, the year of 1984 was proclaimed the year of revenge by mujahedin. This year became the bloodiest period of the Afghan war. 2343 Soviet servicemen died.
Senior lieutenant’s Ploskonos reconnaissance landing company has also suffered losses. One of the first officers to die in the company was special reconnaissance platoon commander senior lieutenant Oleh Antonenko who is buried on the Baikove cemetery in Kyiv.
From the memoirs of Ihor Ploskonos:
“The intensity of the activity was really crazy – if we went “to work” at night, we had only half of the day to rest, and vice versa. Only before large-scale operations we were able to have a 2-3 days’ rest. Today, when you meet people or read commendation list where it is written that a person took part only in 18 combat operations during the service in the DRA, it is unclear what this person has been doing for two years there”.
In September, 1983, the company’s personnel under the command of Ihor Ploskonos went on the road Kunduz-Khanabad at night and laid an ambush. 24 gunmen were trapped with famous field commander so-called doctor Shamson who had influence over the Kunduz province. Mujahedin were annihilated, but all the scouts stayed alive. For that operation, senior lieutenant Ploskonos was awarded the Order of Red Star.
Ihor Ploskonos carried out many battles and operations in Afghanistan. But one of his most difficult moments during the service in the DRA was participation in Marmol ravine operation in order to release Soviet civil specialists captured by mujahedin.
It should be noted that the Marmol ravine previously considered inaccessible. In the ravine, mujahedin built a powerful system of long-lasting fortifications and strong points which protected large cave arms and ammunition depots. Those were the storages that supplied armed opposition groups fighting against shuravi in the north of Afghanistan. The ravine’s defence was ensured by more than 1300 mujahedin.
To block the grouping of mujahedin in ravine, the operation area was surrounded by the Soviet landing units which were assigned not to let the militants from the ravine. One of the companies deployed there was commanded by Ihor Ploskonos. The company’s task was to block the Bazarak pass and keep mujahideen in the encirclement. According to the command, the company had to stand there for 3 days, but it appeared to be 10 days of struggle.
From the memoirs of the former chief reconnaissance officer of 201st MRD Kuzmin:
“The blocking units were assigned not to let mujahedin from the encirclement. The major blow was inflicted on the company of Ploskonos. The weather was non-flying because of a thick fog; and our aviation could not help. More than three days the company had to beat off the enemy in total encirclement. Ploskonos skillfully located his firepower and constantly guided the attached artillery means…”.
The Motherland highly appreciated leadership potential of Ihor Ploskonos – on November 15, 1983, according to the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Ihor Ploskonos was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union “for skilful command of the company during the combat mission in Marmol ravine in the Bazarak pass region, Balkh province, for saving the personnel’s lives, as well as for displayed courage and heroism while carrying his international duty”.
After the returning from Afghanistan, Ploskonos continued his service on the command posts in Turkestan military district, in the Southern group of forces, and in Ukraine. He also finished Frunze Military Academy in Moscow.
Mr Ploskonos changed his uniform into a civilian suit after he had been elected deputy of Ukraine of the first convocation. Later, he held other positions of the highest importance in the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Emergency Situation of Ukraine. From 2007 to 2001 Ihor Ploskonos headed the State Veterans Committee of Ukraine.