Ilia Sepiashvili was born in 1904 in Lailashi, western Georgia into a Jewish peasant family (most of Lailashi's Jews earned their living from agriculture). Upon graduation from school, he moved to Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia and worked at a silk factory.
With the beginning of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, Ilia was drafted into the Red Army and assigned as a gunner to a light artillery regiment. He was awarded his first Order of Glory, 3rd Class, in August 1944, while fighting in Poland. During an enemy counterattack near Roszczep village, close to Radzymin in central Poland, Sepiashvili set up his artillery piece in an open space and while wounded and having to act alone since all the other soldiers of his crew had been killed, he fired at close range at the enemy tanks that were moving in his direction. He damaged four enemy vehicles, destroyed an anti-tank gun, and killed several German soldiers. He received his second Order of Glory, 2nd Class, as a master-sergeant (starshina) and commander of a platoon, in Germany during a similar operation near Brausendorf (now the village of Brudzewo, Poland). Ilia Sepiashvili received his third Order of Glory, 1st Class, after the storming of Berlin in April and May of 1945. That time, he was again forced to fight alone as the sole survivor of his unit. In a Berlin street he loaded his cannon and fired alone point-blank at the enemy. Sepiashvili was seriously wounded in this battle. When the commander of the regiment was sending Sepiashvili to hospital, he said "You are a genuine hero, Ilia, a model for other fighters. Our command has included the details of your victories in our regimental log. You deserve a high reward, remember this and wait. It certainly will come." Although this brave gunner was recommended for an order in May 1946, he received it only in 1968! Be it as it may, Sepiashvili is one of only 14 Jews to be awarded all three classes of the Order of Glory (thus, he was what the Soviets referred to as "a complete cavalier of glory", which was equivalent in the postwar USSR to "Hero of the Soviet Union" ).
After the war, he continued to work at the same silk factory in Kutaisi where he worked before the war.
Ilia Sepiashvili died in 1971. An obituary in a republic newspaper referred to him as a Georgian hero, ignoring the fact that he was Jewish.