Awarding with "The People's Hero of Ukraine" on the base of the 5th SBAT
On April 22 in the village of Velykomykhailivka in the Dnipropetrovsk Region, near the base of the 5th Separate Battalion of Ukrainian Volunteer Army, there was held the 15th ceremony of awarding with the most honorable distinction of our time - the Order "The People's Hero of Ukraine".
About 200 fighters and volunteers have already received this distinction. Today 12 more have become one of them, they are all volunteers - the fighters of such battalions as "Donbas", "Azov", "Aidar", and UVC RS (nowadays UVA), as well as the volunteers and medics-hospitallers.
The heroes were awarded in the forest at the local sights that is known as "Nestor Makhno's Oak". A few years ago a 700-year-old oak was burnt down by vandals; the caring local citizens made something like a monument of what was left.
The Leader of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, Dmytro Yarosh, personally handed the awards. It was symbolic, same as the chosen place for ceremony; it was on this base where a history of the greatest and most powerful union has begun. We lived and received training on this base; first time, in summer of 2014 we went to the front line from there. For some time we shared this base with our fellow fighters of Donbas Battalion, there were also the fighters of other volunteer battalions. It is right now in the deep rear, but I remember the days when it was close to the front line and quite dangerous.
This base is our "maternal nest" and the paternal home for all fighters, including those who are stationed in other places. For example, I have not lived in Velykomykhailivka for more than one year but occasionally visit here. I am still remembered and loved there. My heart beats rapidly every time when I get here.
Rebirth and unification of the Ukrainian volunteer movement must begin from this base or, presumably, it has already begun today.
The majority of those, who were present, probably shared the same feelings today. Unfortunately, not all fighters could attend the ceremony because they are in combat at the present moment. There was not even Chornyi, the commander of the battalion.
After singing the national anthem and having prayed Dmytro Yarosh, the Leader, gave a welcoming speech:
"Two years ago, on April 20th, there was the first offensive that was carried out by a group of volunteers near the town of Sloviansk. The hostile checkpoint was wiped out. There we have suffered the first losses: friend Mykhailo was killed and friend Buryi was wounded. However, we have destroyed the enemy quite a lot. They had 6 of "two-hundredth" and many "three-hundredth". It was the first offensive fight of this war."
The Leader kept talking but, being modest, he didn't mention a fact that he had personally led that group.
"Then we had neither knowledge nor experience, but it was the volunteer movement that began the active phase of war defending the Ukrainian national interests. Then and now it was important for us to set the example. After Crimea being surrendered, we realized that if we didn't shed our own and hostile blood, they would come to Kyiv and more likely to Lviv.
The volunteers movement presented by "Donbas", "Azov" (it has already became the regiment), "Aidar", "Dnipro-1", other units, and the volunteers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been written and told about them a lot. Despite the enormous contribution in stopping and throwing back the aggressor, we still see that the volunteer movement is not adequately appreciated by the government structures. Therefore the distinction of "The People's Hero" is so important. It is truly the award that can be carried with honor."
Then Yana Zinkevych said few words - the founder of legendary unit "The Hospitallers" and a legend herself; she lost weight after the horrible accident and 4 months in the hospital. Yana - being in the wheelchair, Yana – wearing a-tacs uniform, Yana will recover and stand on her feet.
The honorable guest - Borys Filatov, the Mayor of Dnipropetrovsk - said that he is proud of Dnipropetrovsk to be one of the centers where the volunteer movement was formed.
The legendary tanker "Adam" - Yevhen Mezhevikin - has told that at the beginning of war the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were not morally ready, and they had a peace of mind knowing that the volunteers have supported them. Then it seemed to the AFU soldiers that our guys have already fought for 10 years.
According to the ATO chief's order a recently fallen deminer of the 5th Battalion of Ukrainian Volunteer Army, Andrii Zakharov ("Zakhar"), was posthumously awarded with a medal "The ATO Participant". He was Russian, with a Russian passport, and he died for Ukraine. Mr. Boiechko, one of the initiators of this award, has told the story how a distinction was created, and he has sworn that none of the enemies or "the rear rats" would receive it.
After that, the ceremony had actually begun. Every fighter or volunteer was represented by someone of his/her fellow fighters. Oleksandr Hrynenko, a fighter of "Aidar" Battalion, was represented by his wife who met him when she was a volunteer. She told a compelling story how he, being seriously wounded, was treated on the occupied territory pretending to be a Russian who lost his memory. When Sashko returned to our side, he found out that he was considered to be deceased and even saw "his" grave.
Yana Zinkevych has introduced two of her subordinates to awarding: friend Ivanka and friend Ateistka (who was severely injured in Pisky when she tried to save a wounded soldier). Both survived. Now the girl recovered after being wounded and continues working as a paramedic at the front. When Ivanka was saying few words after receiving the award (it seemed nothing special was talked about, she just recalled people who are doing their job and bringing a victory closer - fighters, doctors, and school pupils who paint the drawings for the soldiers) but many of those present had tears in their eyes.
One fighter - Mykola Troitskyi from "Azov" (a call sign "Akela") - was posthumously awarded with "The People's Hero". He was bringing food and ammunition to his fellow fighters under heavy bombardment. I have seen the vehicle which he was burnt in; it is still there, at the forefront, as the monument to a fighter.
Friend Sokil, a chief of UVA headquarters, and Mrs. Alla Mehel, our most famous media person, have presented Colonel Andrii Tymofiiv ("Petrovych"). Mrs. Alla called him "Hero" three times: a hero-volunteer - as he has never come without a bag full of most necessary things for the artillerymen; a hero-fighter - as soon as he has arrived at the base, he right away rushed to Pisky without having a rest; a hero-teacher - as he has prepared almost all our artillerymen. He can be called the father of our artillery.
Petrovych is a native of Krasnoiarsk, and his wife is from a region of Sumy. Their daughter once wrote on Facebook: "The Motherland of my father attacked the Motherland of my mother."
When Andrii Skachkov from the Donbas Battalion was getting the award, his fellow fighter has presented him saying, "Having people like Andrii, it will not happen that we will lose this war, even if someone on the top wants it very strongly." The recipient of award has added, “State is not its government, but it is the people."
It is extremely pleasant that a Fairy, Kseniia Bykova, has received the award. She usually writes on Facebook: "All right, I am taking off to the East." She even brought provisions to the Donetsk Airport. Her famed phrase almost on a daily basis is: “Today we are one day closer to victory." Mr. Chelpanov, a famous mountain climber and a fighter of the Dnipro-1 Battalion, has presented her. "We met with him in Pisky in autumn 2014. Then I begged...I would keep mum... from him and his friends, and he has taught me where I could get the high quality equipment. Since that time I didn't hear anything about him but recalled once awhile. What a joy it is to see this man being alive and healthy!
The foreigner - Denys Sheler, a Croatian and a fighter of the Azov Battalion - was awarded as well. Using the interesting mix of Ukrainian, Russian and Croatian words he promised: "We will return Donbas and Crimea, and the Kuban will be ours as well."
Andrii Sharaskin (friend Bohema), a cyborg of the Donetsk Airport and currently a head of Public Nonprofit Organization "The Yarosh Statehood Initiative"("DIYA"), and Leonid Kantor, a film producer of "The Ukrainians"- "Добровольці Божої чоти", have presented their friend Andrii Nahirnyi ("Fazan") to awarding. As the guys said the myth about the Donetsk Airport Cyborgs has started with him and it continues here and there.
"We were not there!" the Leader has corrected.
"So, I am about the myths!" Bohema immediately replied.
Fazan is a master of sports in power lifting, once he has saved Bohema's life. Being under heavy shelling, Bohema slipped and fell down, and Fazan pulled him out in the armored vest and equipment with just one hand.
Several people have received the medals "Strong by Spirit" from the Ministry of Defence, among them were our media people Mrs. Alla Mehel and friend Strila.
Friend Leader and other friends Vatslav, Variah and Desant were awarded with the knives "Hlok" having the honorary engraving "The Punisher".
The Ukrainian volunteer movement is alive. The 5th and 8th Battalions of UVA are in combat. "The Hospitallers" regularly have the rotation at the front line. The fellow soldiers from other military units are side by side with us.
"A life goes on - the war continues."