Samusenko began her military service as a member of an infantry platoon fighting in the Winter War in Finland. Some rumours say she had previously fought in the Spanish Civil War, but these are unsubstantiated.
As World War 2 continued she graduated from tank academy and became commander of a crew operating a T-34 tank. She was the only female tanker in the 1st Guards Tank Army. In 1943 she received the the Order of the Red Star for bravery in the Battle of Kursk, where her crew destroyed three German Tiger I tanks.
Samusenko was befriended by US Army Sergeant Joseph Beyrle, who had escaped from a prison camp and persuaded Samusenko to let him join her unit en route to Berlin. She was also known to have a boyfriend named Mindlin, who she stopped smoking and drinking for.
Samusenko died 70 km from Berlin during the East Pomeranian Offensive, when she was accidentally run over by another Soviet tank in the dark. After her death Beyrle described her as a symbol of Soviet fortitude and courage.