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"The cumulative shot pierced the APC's armor. I remember, how my hand fell off the sleeve of the jacket"

March 24, 2016 / Edition of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine "Narodna Armiya" No.11 (5440)
"The cumulative shot pierced the APC's armor. I remember, how my hand fell off the sleeve of the jacket"

24-year old severely wounded scout Sergeant Vadym Dovhoruk has spent four days at the outskirts of Debaltseve. Despite the extreme cold and significant blood loss, the Ukrainian warrior has survived.

In 2010, native of Kirovohrad Vadym Dovhoruk has signed a contract with the defense agency and started service in the 3rd separate Special Forces regiment as a scout. Then, Vadym haven't even had an idea that within a few years he would need the specialized skills in a real battle, but not during regular exercise.

In August 2014, Vadym arrived with his unit to the ATO area​​ with the task to keep the old terminal of Donetsk airport.

– Militants desperately tried to force us back and seize our "fortress" again and again. And every time we gave them a fitting rebuff. After each attack, they retreated with losses, – says Vadym Dovhoruk. – After the arrival of another so-called "humanitarian convoy" from Russia, militants started to shoot us from large artillery.

Once, the battalion "Dnepr-1" column was ambushed near the airport. The Special Forces group of 15 people went to help, but there also was a terrorists' ambush waiting for them on their way. A fierce fight began.

– There was a dense forest around the road. Someone was executing aimed fire from small arms at us from that forest line. Then, I got my first injury – in the chest, – Vadym recalls.

Fellows managed to oppose the prevailing number of militants for more than half an hour. Eventually, they had to retreat and return to the terminal. Vadym Dovhoruk and other injured were sent to a military hospital. After several months of rehabilitation, the fellow returned to the ranks and immediately turned to the command with a request to send him to the ATO area. So, in January 2015, Sergeant Vadym Dovhoruk arrived to Artemovsk.

- We were assigned to accompany the column of ammunition to Debaltseve. We took the injured out of there, too, – the scout said. – Our BTR-80 has always been ahead of the column, and in case of danger, we were the first to take the blow.

On January 16, the first day of agreements on bilateral ceasefire, Vadym accompanied vehicles with the wounded to Artemovsk. The column consisted of 4 vehicles: Special Forces officers' APC was ahead, two KAMAZ trucks followed it, and the IFV closed the column. On the outskirts of the railway junction, the Ukrainian troops encountered an enemy checkpoint. APC driver-mechanic tried to break through it, but after it was several times hit from grenade launcher, the armored vehicle stopped. At this moment, other machines with wounded managed to quickly turn round and leave the area of ​​fire.

– One of cumulative shots pierced the armor of our APC, – Vadym Dovhoruk recalls. – Senior Sergeant Vitaliy Fedytnyk died immediately, and I was injured – my arm was ripped off till the elbow.

Then, the combatants surrounded the armored vehicle of the scouts. Ukrainian warriors who survived, but had no ammunition, were took captives. The militants left Vadym and commanding officer, who were seriously injured, in the shot armored personnel carrier, because they thought they were dead.

– I remember, how my hand fell off the sleeve of my jacket, ­– Vadym says. – The commander was even in more critical condition. We have got out of the vehicle in half an hour and tried to take cover away, so, that the militants have not noticed us. Captain Butusov could crawl 200 meters from the APC. Then, he showed no signs of life. So, I was left alone.

But, despite the critical condition, Vadym Dovhoruk did not give up. He managed to crawl for about 150 meters with his last ounces of strength, and hid near a concrete fence that ran along the tracks.

A brave warrior lay in the snow for four days. Maybe, it was the frost which did not let the guy die from blood loss. He drank snow, instead of water. From time to time, he fell asleep; woke up from shots and voices of the Russian mercenaries who were passing by and not paying attention to him. They had no interest in him, in the dead Ukrainian...

– I was trying to constrict the wound with a tourniquet and hoped that our forces would find me, but not those of the enemy's. But there was only enemy everywhere, – Vadym says.

Meanwhile, battles continued in the sector "C", gradually, there were more and more terrorists near the outskirts of Debaltseve. In the morning of February 19, in the area, where the scout was hiding, there appeared an enemy patrol, and mercenaries decided to check the body of a fighter, and suddenly it turned up warm. Vadym, barely alive with fourth category frostbite of both feet, was delivered to Luhansk Oblast Hospital, which was full of wounded.

– One local paramedic women saved me. She secretly gave me her mobile phone. I immediately called my parents, and said that I was alive and was at Luhansk Oblast Hospital, – the fighter says.

Fortunately, at that time, the Ukrainian representatives actively negotiated with the pro-Russian mercenaries on the exchange of captives, therefore, the combatants decided that Sergeant Dovhoruk wouldn't live long; the terrorists gave him in exchange for the captive criminals. Later, both Vadym's frostbitten limbs were amputated in the Kyiv Burn Center.

It is worth to say, that fellow with fortitude bore the blow of fate and the deprivation of the opportunity to move. His optimistic stance and love for life even now overcome all difficulties and do not give the opportunity to stop at the achieved. Now, Vadym Dovhoruk is rehabilitated in Kharkiv Institute of Prosthetics, where German prosthetic legs were fixed to him in summer. Soon, he will get a quality prosthetic hand.

Today he leads an active life: started to drive, takes daily physical exercises and gymnastics, and chats with comrades at his webpage on the Internet. Vadym plans to reeducate and master the trade of military psychologist, in order to help the men, like him, who were wounded during the anti-terrorist operation.

Dmytro CHALYI