On Feb. 14, the world celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, the patron saint of love, lovers, travelers and young people.
But, on his day in 2023, Saint Valentine was not able to protect someone who knew how to love - on Feb 14, 2023, my friend was killed in this war.
Perhaps the world simply did not deserve the sincerity and positivity that Serhiy Hryhorchak could give - he was the most positive person I ever knew.
Whenever he entered a room, it became brighter; either from his blond hair which was golden in the sun, or from his blue eyes with their mischievous spark, or finally from his smile which never seemed to fade an was, as they say, all teeth.
He remained positive all the time. At least he never showed us the tiredness he must have felt, brought on by the war. I will remember for the rest of my life of a video where Serhiy sits in his trench, it is clearly not the first day.; he's covered in mud but his eyes are glistening and his smile is still there because a cat has come.
That was typically Serhiy. Only he could be so genuinely happy about the little things the rest of us might ignore. When I gave him some warm socks for the front, he beamed as if I had given him something of incredibly value - it was important to him. I’m sure he would have reacted in the same way in the last package I sent him, that he never had time to collect.
Serhiy volunteered for the front in the summer of 2022. I remember the moment when I asked him why he had done so, it was when he was home from the front for a few days’ vacation. The two of us were standing on the balcony, smoking. He looked at the night city, took a drag on his cigarette, looked at me and, with a moments note of fatigue said: "How? Why? I couldn't just sit here and do nothing any longer."
During the war, Serhiy’s call sign was "Fregate". He was a machine gunner in the 95th Airborne Assault Brigade, the soldiers of which President Zelensky personally thanked for their success in the Donbas in the winter of 2022.
For about six months, Fregate had no rest and continued to fight for the future of Ukraine. He said that he could not leave, because he did not want to abandon his brothers: "how will they cope there without me?” He assured me that he would take a short rest once the Ukrainian flag was again flying over occupied Donetsk.…
Fregate showed his courage and bravery in some of the hottest areas of the front, in the south and east of Ukraine. Recently, he was in Maryinka, a city that was literally razed to the ground by the Russian invaders. According to Serhiy, it was in Maryinka that a record number of hits were recorded — about 80 shots per minute.
After his death, we learned that Serhiy had been a commander for a long time. He had only told his family about this and it was only after his death, that we also heard about his frequent brave actions. He didn't tell us, his friends, because he was modest and caring – he didn’t want us to worry and wanted to distract us from the harsh reality of the war, with light friendly conversations.
One of these impressive stories was the account of his last completed combat mission. His team had to occupy a two-story building but, using a thermal imager, his colleagues could see a group of Russian invaders on the second floor. They tried to break through the walls, nothing worked. Serhiy took the initiative, ran up the stairs to the second floor alone and killed all the invaders with his machine gun.
When we hear so many such stories it seems like the plots to action movies, but with the participation of our friend Serhiy. He was not only a caring son, a caring brother and a wonderful friend, but also a courageous and reliable soldier; a worthy son of Ukraine.
Serhiy was buried on Feb. 22 in his hometown of Pervomaysk, Mykolaiv region. The military burial ceremony was solemn but gave us goosebumps at the same time. It was painfully ironic that, at that moment, an air alert sounded throughout the city, as if reminding who was to blame for Serhiy's death.
But an even more terrible irony of fate awaited us in the evening. When, after the burial of the Fregate, the heart of his godfather Serhiy could not stand it from despair and pain. So, Russia had, once again, inflicted a terrible tragedy on the home of Ukrainians.
However, even though they are gone from our lives, no one can take them from our hearts. While we remember those who have been taken from us, let us also love the living.
In memory of the Hero Serhiy Hryhorchak. 14.12.1995 — 14.02.2023
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