Joseph Pilyushin was an accomplished sniper that fought for the U.S.S.R. on the Eastern Front up at and around Lengingrad which was his home before and after the war. At 38 years old, Joseph was quite old when he went off to war but had been in the civil defense forces before the war and that is where he learned to shoot well by competing on a rifle team. Like many soldiers, Joseph was injured a number of times during combat and even lost his right eye, which was his shooting eye, at which point he learned to shoot left handed. While the Red Army labeled him unfit for combat because of his permanent injuries, they did put him in charge of a Sniper School where he trained hundreds of snipers and prepared them for combat. Through the justification of training his snipers Joseph continued to experience a decent amount of combat until he was injured yet again in February of 1944. This time the injuries were too severe and he was removed from the front lines of combat by a District Commissar with a firm hand shake and the words “Have a rest, if you are needed, we’ll call”. At the time he was removed from combat, he had 136 confirmed kills to his credit and several hundred sniper school graduates to his credit. Joseph had also received the Order of the Red Star.
Like many snipers on both sides of the conflict on the Eastern Front, Joseph experienced and survived several sniper vs. sniper duels and became quite experienced at trench warfare. At times his experiences were very similar to that of trench warfare during the First World War. Joseph and his fellow snipers made extensive use of periscopes and elaborate dug out hides with blinds and shooting ports in the trenches. Joseph is considered a national hero and his book was quite popular when it was published originally in 1958. His memoirs are very personal and give an insight into the emotions and feelings of a sniper during some intense warfare on a heavily contested front. Unfortunately, German artillery took the lives of his wife and two sons during the war and later in the war he had become very close to a female sniper in their unit, until she died in combat as well.