Story #73. Birthday of a Soldier on the Frontline

March 9, 2023
The story of Ukrainian soldier Serhii Yanchenko. #UkraineWorldTestimony
Photo credit: serhii_yanchenko/Instagram

The day before the full-scale Russian invasion, Serhii Yanchenko came to the Sumy territorial defense and left his information so that in the event of war, he could be quickly found and called to defend the city.

On February 24, the full-scale war began, which was not a surprise to Serhii. He was ready to protect the city and fight the Russian invaders. He received a weapon, and so a new stage in his life began - being a soldier.

Now Serhii is fighting in eastern Ukraine and occasionally publishes stories about his military experience on his Instagram

We are publishing one of Serhii Yanchenko's texts in his voice:

June 16, 2022, 05:30 am. I have my birthday today, but there will be no happy birthday wishes. First, not everyone in the platoon knows about it, and second, we have been "at zero" [right on the front line - ed.] for more than a week. There has been no mobile connection. It has been jammed by Russian electronic warfare measures.

I know that many people want to call and wish me a happy birthday today, but they will hear the phrase "that the subscriber is now out of reach." The hardest thing is now for my parents. They, more than anyone, want to talk to me. I imagine how many times my mom pressed on the green phone button near my contact in her phone.

I thought: well, what kind of gift can I make for myself? The answer was obvious. I turned on my phone, took my headphones, and turned on my musical playlist. What could be better than just listening to your favorite songs at five in the morning?

In the afternoon, the commander came to us. We warmed up the last drinking water reserves, brewing coffee and tea. There was very little water. One cup for two or three soldiers. I gave a stingy toast for my comrades. For the fact that I had the honor of defending our country with them.

We have a gift for you, Siryi - said Kapral, - Take the drone and adjust the artillery fire on the enemy's positions. We've found a house where they often go.

I like gifts like that.

In the evening, we received the order to depart. Finally. We were tired, both physically and morally. We had lost guys here. They died right before our eyes. Some were seriously injured and have already been evacuated. But despite all this, we obeyed the order. We did not give up positions. But it was still necessary to go. And it won't be a stroll.

At night, we got on a bus, crossed it with all the prayers that we knew, and left. This bus with us inside was like a train somewhere in Pakistan. Only one door worked - the rear.

Siryi, your things have burned, I forgot to tell you.

What? What does it mean - burned?

Well, your guy's backpacks were loaded into Kamaz. There was still a place, and ammunition was put in the car too. I think grenade launchers were also there. There was a shelling at the power station. The shell hit Kamaz as well, the ammunition was detonated and the car was completely burned.

Damn! - That's all I could say.

All the things I went to war with were burned. Three backpacks of all the essential stuff turned into ashes. I had trousers, a shirt, and army boots. And, of course, a machine gun.

The next morning we were in another city of Donbas, in our controlled territory. At that time, we didn't know that the guys from the other brigade that replaced us would be struck in our own positions in a couple of days. And we would see them in the military hospital in Dnipro.

We didn't know that after a month and a half, the power station we had fought for would be taken by the enemy. This would be done by Wagner Group mercenaries - one of the enemy's most capable units.

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.

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