By Wings Phoenix (Iurii Biriukov), army volunteer, Assistant Minister to Col. Gen. Valeriy Heletey, recently appointed Minister of Defense
Translated by Wings Phoenix Eng and edited by Voices of Ukraine, used with permissions
The drive to Donetsk airport, the day before yesterday, was not simply for the sake of an adrenaline rush, it was neither extreme nor routine. We could have delivered 2 tons of cargo using regular convoys. However, there also was a request by the command – the Cyborgs [Editor: Ukrainian soldiers defending the airport have been nicknamed “Cyborgs” by the enemy shelling it] needed support, they were not panicking but they needed to be cheered up. No problem, we would cheer them up and cheer ourselves up too.
What was most important, was in the cargo we dropped off:
– 500 liters of water
– men’s briefs / socks
– wet wipes
– canned food, coffee/ tea, field rations
– gas burner stoves with spare cans [cartridges]
– CAT tourniquets, CELOX, Israeli bandages, medicine dropper systems, medicine
– thermal imaging devices
– a ton of ammunition
– two boxes of RPO-A Shmel (wow! this kind of stuff I’ve never carried in my L200)
What was the most important?
I thought that the ammunition and medicine [would be], but it appeared that the gas stoves were the most important. Yesterday morning, the Cyborgs were drinking hot coffee and were eating a warm breakfast – an unimaginable luxury in the surroundings of a post-apocalyptic landscape. And there were calls with “thank you’s”… And the phrase of the commander: “Phoenix, they are squinting with pleasure!” Brothers, there will be another 50 stoves and 150 spare cans – there will be a hot breakfast and a hot dinner!
I will not write about the trip itself. It was scary. Very scary. But at some point the fear shrunk inside into a tiny ball and the reflexes came to the forefront and cold calculation started working: ‘you need bend down, do not go out into the moonlight, unloading should be done quickly, listen, know where there’s shelter. Where is the shelter? Where the f*ck can one dig a shelter in this concrete dump? How to defend this prefabricated structure built of light design materials that was easily shot through? What can drywall protect you from?
And then, back out to the base with the wounded and the transfer of the body of our hero, who died on Saturday. And the Schubert M826 helmet that absorbed the energy of the shrapnel, and the grateful eyes of the soldier – the owner of this helmet. He remembered the day when I gave it to him, and he will also now remember the night when that helmet saved his life. Zhenya Piven, his torn body… He should not have been there but he decided to go together with his men. He was pushed out on rotation but he wanted to be together with the soldiers. We pulled him out from there and took him to the morgue… Today is the funeral.
At 2 a.m. we were drinking hot coffee and eating stewed meat with onions. Quietly, without the jokes and anecdotes. We escaped from hell but our brothers were there to protect us. And only one poignant thought, a short phrase: “Guys, now in rear [behind the front lines] the giiiirls go to discos…” Laughter, pause, silence. Quietly. Girls… Quietly, quietly, quietly.
When you meet a soldier dressed in unform in the street, know, that he could be one of those. One of those who dreamed at night about the discotheque.
Thank him. Bow to him. He – is your hero. He –is your defender.
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79th Airborne Brigade of Nikolaev
4149 4950 0700 7806 Iurii Biriukov (Юрий Бирюков)
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