Story #75. The Loss of a Comrade in War

March 11, 2023
The story of Ukrainian soldier Serhii Yanchenko. #UkraineWorldTestimony
Photo credit: Photo credit: serhii_yanchenko/Instagram

Serhii Yanchenko has been defending Ukraine since the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion. In his free time, he shares stories from the front on his Instagram

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

We were lying in ambush for about half an hour. Summer, temperature +30, the sun at its peak zenith, and we were in full gear. I was sweating like I was in a sauna.

Tonight I was on duty at the observation post and did not sleep at all. Our first group didn't make contact for a long time, so we just waited. Mentally, I wanted some action to start because I was barely keeping myself from falling asleep.

I suddenly heard the crackling of branches behind me. I turned sharply. It was a guy from the intelligence group with the dog! "What the hell?" - he read on my face. He looked at the dog that joined him at the station guiltily.

Cool. We are hiding in the forest, moving towards the enemy's positions, and behind us just runs a dog that walks like an elephant. For this dog, it's just a walk in the forest. While we don't even talk to each other, so as not to let ourselves be noticed. If you listen, you can hear the Russians' voices. They speak loudly - so they don't know that we are here. That's good.

EXPLOSION! Immediately a shout behind us: "Aaaaaaaaa!" They saw us. Our task now is to stay alive. Suddenly, our commander emerges from a bush and shouts to everyone: "Everybody to the road, quickly, quickly, damn it!"

We ran out onto the road that we had avoided when we were going forward because it is good for being shot at. Now we were in full view.

"Aaaaaaaah. My hand!" I couldn't tell by the voice which of the guys was shouting.

Everything went as badly as it could have gone. While we were running, the screams of the wounded kept going. Hold on, my friend, we're close, we'll get you out!

"Water, give me water". It was Krym, it was his voice. Well, things were bad, as Krym was the most experienced sapper in the battalion.

"You three, help the sappers to get Krym out. Just be careful, they have already mined everything there. Let them show you the path" - the commander ordered us.

"Get the ATV here, quick. We need an evacuation. Krym is seriously wounded. We're down the road. Quick, damn!" - shouted the commander.

At this time, we were already running to Krym along the minefield, as far as it was possible. His moans didn't stop. I was the last to get to him. All I had to do was pick up his blood-red body armor and the machine gun. The boys had already put tourniquets on him. This increased his chances of survival.

He screamed in pain and swore at us. An evacuation group arrived on an ATV. The guys put him on the back frame as best they could to the accompaniment of his cries and moans. They drove to our positions, loaded him into another car, and took him to the evacuation site.

We returned to the positions from which we started the task. We were all covered with Krym's blood. There was clearly a problem with his hand, but that is up to the doctors, maybe they will save it.

I approached the guys from his group. Their looks were blank. They just smoked cigarettes and looked into the distance. Obviously, this whole scene was still flashing before their eyes. And they are now deeply shocked by what they had seen.

"Amputation of the right hand is necessary, as soon as possible, the condition is critical," said the voice of our medic on the walkie-talkie, which hung on the commander's body armor.

"Guys, he will survive. Yes, he lost a lot of blood, but you heard him scream loudly. So he has the strength to scream like that. It's a pity that his hand will be cut off," I told the guys from his group the best that I could come up with at that moment.

After 2 days, we were told that Krym had died. He couldn't get out. Blood loss, amputation, the full set. This was a major loss for the battalion. Everyone considered him a virtuoso of blasting. And he was like that.

During his burial, soldiers symbolically blew up an anti-tank mine, and put various explosive devices in the coffin along with him.

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

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