By Wings Phoenix (Iurii Biriukov), army volunteer, Assistant Minister to Col. Gen. Valeriy Heletey–the recently-appointed Minister of Defense
Translated by Wings Phoenix Eng and edited by Voices of Ukraine, used with permissions
This year of my life goes under the motto “Suddenly.” And not only in my life.
Suddenly the summer flew past and the nights became cold. And more – we became specialists in thermal underwear and other weird and unexpected things. By the sound [of the mortar], you can determine if it is an 82mm or 120mm [shell], and by the remains of the shrapnel – the type of munition. Details that nobody needed before, but that became very important, suddenly.
Suddenly, the harvest is ripe. Overripe, hanging in gardens and wanted by no one, but now become a favorite treat for soldiers, who have been brought to these holiday villages by a quirk of fate. Traces of the old and now forgotten peaceful life. Preserves, an old TV, an old VCR. We are trying not to break anything, not to damage property. Because once this is all over, the owners will return. We aren’t going to leave them a sudden surprise in the form of a destroyed home.
Suddenly, “Grad” [“hail”] shells are falling in the garden. In its path, a tree and an old toilet hut turn to fragments. The windows were shattered and it’s become cold. So we fixed the windows, fired up the stove, and were drawn into sleep. Sweet dreams, however, are not an option, they are dangerous – one needs to be dressed, have one’s boots on, remember where the cellar is. “Grads” often arrive, and always – suddenly. However, we are often rescued by the local mascot – a little dog of unknown name and origin. Affectionate, trusting. And a very light sleeper. A few tens of seconds before the next shells land, he’s running into the cellar – a sure sign.
Suddenly, our purring [Editor: by which he means snoring] Major was contacted online by his old friend who asked him to help her relative. She is somewhere in the US, and her uncle is in a tiny town on the outskirts of the Donetsk airport. And despite it being extremely dangerous, and we could have refused to help citing thousands of (very real) reasons – we went to this village looking for Lenin Street. Of course it’s Lenin Street. Even if a village had only 3 streets in it, one of them would be Lenin Street. It has no electricity from the end of May, no gas, no stores that are open. But there is a part of our army there. They are helping with food, fixing windows, giving bottled water, bringing bread. This is our sector now, so we are picking up the baton. We found this house, with some difficulty. And we found three local pensioners there. They have no relatives to evacuate them, they have no means by which to leave. So they stay. Water, food from the can, bread, and cereal. A group of “islanders” who are covering our butts have given these pensioners their readymade meals, although nobody asked them to. No worries, we’ll find some more canned food, and we’ll find some onions in a dacha garden. And we will help the locals more often now. They are very much afraid of everything, and rightly so. Only yesterday a mortar landed in their garden – yes, yes, also suddenly. Nobody was hurt, only the windows shattered.
Suddenly, someday, peace will come.
79th Airborne Brigade of Nikolaev
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