It seemed to me that I was watching a movie about the Second World War..." – memories of a paratrooper

November 2021

When this story began, Alexander had just finished his studies. He studied to be a cook and moved from Poltava region to Dnipro in search of work and himself.

"I worked at various jobs, I was looking for something more interesting, I wanted to decide on my profile in the future," - recalls yesterday's military serviceman, and now a participant in the project "My history is my strength."

The project "My story - My strength" involves teaching a unique method of story creation - a method that, in addition to defining for everyone the opportunity to become a "story director", also helps to recover in the process of creating "your own story"

Oleksandr says that for him the war began with the Maidan:

"I wasn't there, but I was constantly watching the news, I was worried, and in the spring, when it was already clear what was going to happen, I already started contacting the military commissions. I was 20 years old then."

They were in no hurry to take him on the record there. They said - no military service, no military experience, "You're still young, go home, sit and think."

"I applied to various military commissariats - Poltava region for the place of registration, then already in Dnipro in the fall I finally got into the 25th airborne brigade. - recalls Oleksandr. - For the first time I got to the frontline in January 2015. My contract began in November 2014, and in January I already got to the front - in the city of Avdiivka."

He served in an airborne infantry company as a grenade launcher. His job was to destroy enemy equipment. It was at that time that the battles for the Butivka mine, on the outskirts of Avdiivka, took place, and the positions were taken under control and held. His first battle and first shelling happened at the same time:

"We went to storm the roadblock near the Butivka mine. We were going to leave the outskirts of Avdiivka, where there were dachas, and as soon as the command "forward" was given, we were then supposed to run across the field on foot and meet resistance near the bridges, start the battle. But we didn't even have time to move forward, we were covered by enemy artillery, and for 15-20 minutes it was a bit difficult, but fortunately without casualties. And after that we advanced, and the battle had already begun when we stormed this roadblock. In parallel with us, other brigades - 95 and 93 - stormed the Butivka mine. We took it! Literally, there was a battle for an hour and a half, they shot back, and somewhere closer to noon - I don't remember exactly - they took the Butivka mine. The shouts of the boys of the 95th brigade, saying hooray, and so on. We were not far away, 150-200 meters from each other."

He remembers how one night he and his sworn brothers had to go to fetch water. The car delivering it got stuck and the water had to be delivered by hand. It was winter and frost.

"And then the four of us ran at night," the soldier says. - There was constant shelling, the first two days there was never such an hour when it was quiet. You can constantly hear the airport nearby, constantly the mine. And we lay on the ground while there was shelling, and it felt like World War II was on the big screen. For some reason, it compares so very, very vividly. All these sounds, all these explosions, flashes. This was one of the vivid memories."

Oleksandr served in the Armed Forces for more than six years. The first contract was "until the end of the special period", but after some changes in the law and the understanding that this "special period" will last for a long time, the fighter signed another contract for three years.

"I came back on January 15, 2021 - my second contract ended," he says. He remembers - he adapted relatively quickly and easily - despite the long service life of being in hot spots:

"It was a little unclear that I am not a military person, that I am no longer obliged to go as if I were on vacation. Full adaptation and understanding probably came after half a year. You don't really understand the first two or three months. The full understanding of a civilian comes when you start going to work. Then you already understand that you work, you ride in a bus, this is not an armored vehicle or a military vehicle, this is already civilian life, you constantly buy food to take home in stores - you already get used to it and already adapt. There were no major problems. I adapted relatively quickly, everything was painless, easy." He got a job as a mechanic technician for a company of shilling scooters - there are those that can be rented in almost every city. He says that the team is good, he likes the work.

"I began to take most things more seriously," Oleksandr comments on the changes that have taken place. - The war educated me and strengthened my patriotism. Earlier, yes, I understood what Ukraine is, I live in this country, it is my state, my native land... but in the army during the war it... gave me a deeper understanding..."

And it also hit health. Received two concussions, and still copes with their consequences:

"Because such things do not go without consequences, especially when you are in military service for so long and in hot spots."

I learned about the project "My story is my strength" from Veteran Hab (Country Houses) in Dnipro. He tells - he is glad that he did not get lazy and went, because it was extremely interesting and useful:

"There were several psychological techniques that I really liked, and you can even use them in the team in the future, they are very useful, plus I gained experience and was able to tell my stories and put them on the Internet resource. I hesitated for a long time whether to post it or not, but after my friends said that it might encourage people to do good for animals, I didn't hesitate to post it on the Internet".

However, after posting it, took it down shortly after. After all, the participants of the training still meet in Zoom and refine their stories.

"So that the video was processed and edited as it should be. These were all tips from the words of professionals, so I'm doing it now, and then I think I'll put it on display, pass it on and put it on display."

The interpretations and views presented in the article are the sole responsibility of the ex-combatants and authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NGO "Community Self-Help".

P.s. In the spring of 2022, Oleksandr died defending Ukraine from Russian invaders. Bright memory of the hero!

He did not have time to publish and distribute his story, which he personally edited. We planned to do this in March 2022 along with the twin stories. Now you have an exclusive opportunity to see Alexander's story