Isaak Presaizen was born in 1911 in Proskurov (now Khmelnitskii, Ukraine). His father was a tailor. Isaak experienced the bloody Proskurov pogrom of 1919 when 1,600 local Jews were killed by members of the Ukrainian army headed by Simon Petliura. At this time, Presaizen's mother was killed, and his father was brutally beaten and crippled. The seven-year old Isaak covered his one-year-old sister with his body. He was brutally beaten, but he saved her life.
Upon graduating from school in Proskurov, Presaizen worked at a factory for a short time and then moved to Leningrad, where he worked at a large factory. In the early 1930s, he studied at the military aviation school in Engels (southern Russia). He became a military pilot and was one of the first Soviet pilots to reach the altitude of 8,000 meters (five miles) in his SB bomber.
Presaizen first saw action during the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-40. After the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, as an experienced pilot, he was sent to the Western (i.e. Belorussian) Front. On June 27, 1941, the sixth day of the Soviet-German war, Senior Lieutenant Presaizen was sent, as the head of a bomber squadron, on a bombing mission north of Minsk against a group of enemy tanks and an oil storage facility. The first sortie was successful, with the pilots hitting the targets, but the second sortie was the last for Presaizen and his comrades. His plane was hit by an enemy shell and caught fire. In this hopeless situation, Isaak Presaizen aimed his burning plane at a highway full of enemy tanks, cars, and soldiers. The huge explosion that followed not only destroyed many cars and enemy soldiers, but also rendered the Minsk-Moscow highway impassable for following days.
Isaak Presaizen was one of the 617 Soviet airmen in 327 aircraft who repeated the heroic deed of Lieutenant Nikolai Gastello, a Belarusian. On June 26, 1941 (the fifth day of the Soviet-German war), Gastello's plane received a direct hit in its fuel tank from a German anti-aircraft gun and caught fire. Realizing that the situation was hopeless (the ejection of any crew member other than the first pilot was impossible), the crew aimed the burning plane at a column of enemy tanks and destroyed it. Gastello was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Moreover, he, together with Aleksandr Matrosov, Zoia Kosmodemianskaia and some others entered the pantheon of Soviet heroes, whose names were well known to every Soviet schoolchild.
Presaizen repeated the famous Gastello's "fire ramming" only a day after the heroic deed of Nikolai Gastello himself, thus he had no knowledge of the achievement of the latter). Presaizen was recommended for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union award, but was, posthumously, awarded only the Order of Lenin.
Presaizen was forgotten for eighteen years. Only in 1959 did two journalists from the newspaper Sovetskaya Podoliya find the mechanic who had prepared Presaizen's aircraft for its last sortie. The resulting newspaper article restored Isaak Presaizen to his well-deserved place among the ranks of the Soviet military heroes.