Viktor Yatsunyk died while serving his duty and saving wounded soldiers from the battlefield on September 17, 2022, It’s a devastating loss for family, friends, brothers from the Skala [the rock] battalion, for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and all of Ukraine, just like it has been for every single one of the heroes who have given their lives to bring our victory closer and preserve our independence. We realize how much Ukrainian defenders risk every second and at what cost every centimeter of liberated Ukrainian land comes – too high a price. Just like it was with Viktor, call sign Brytanets [British guy].
“My heart breaks and my soul hurts that this war is not over yet, but it ended for him, for a person who could do so much for Ukraine – for the people – and for a father who could give and teach his children a lot. Viktor wanted to carry out an amazing transformation for the army, to show not the old Soviet Union, but modernity, to make some corrections, tactics, and strategy,” shared Iuliia, Victor’s wife.
A FAMILY PROTECTOR
Viktor’s mother Sofia Vasylivna shared that for the past seven months getting a short text from her son to know he was OK was all she needed to make her day. At the funeral, gripped with grief, she fell on her knees crying out, “Forgive me, son, for not preventing this tragedy.” Selflessness is definitely a family trait. Even at this heart-breaking time, she found the strength to think of many other heroes who are still guarding Ukraine’s freedom.
“God, I’m begging; protect Ukraine, take care of those soldiers whom my Vitia taught. He defended Ukraine in a European, civilized way from his experience in the British army. He is a warrior from top to toe. Glory to Ukraine and my hero, Viktor. A hero, of which there are many. With the army we have, we can protect not only Ukraine but the whole world. The world must also be saved from Putin’s fascist invasion. I believe in and hope for our joint victory,” declared Sofia.
Vitia’s step-sister, Natasha, told how Viktor would think of others before himself. For example, when Natasha’s six-month pregnant sister needed help fleeing the country during the full-scale invasion, Brytanets solved the problem within a few hours and drove her to the border with Poland.
“Viktor could be at a distance, but his kindness was always here with us. Even if we didn’t talk often, we were always in touch. Whenever there were any difficulties, he either helped me with the solution or encouraged me in a way that I could fix everything myself,” said Natasha.
The only time I saw his wife’s smile that day was when asked about family life with her husband. With their love born during the Euromaidan revolution, they lived as though in a fairytale upon getting married. Iuliia was amazed by what a hardworking, organized, well-rounded, kind, and selfless individual her husband was.
She talked about how he moved to the U.K. and started his career path with hard work and sleepless nights; how he truly loved carpentry and renovation, creating beautiful things out of simple materials. Viktor would always care about Yulia and his kids no matter how tired he was after a long working day. Brytanets motivated his wife to grow professionally and spiritually and, of course, she feels he was the best husband and father.
“Vitia would repeat to me: ‘Don’t worry. I know that I have dear, beloved people to return to. I’ll be fine.’ I really believed those words. I knew that he was always careful, that he checked everything before doing something. He knew how intently his son Danylko, daughter Stefania, me, his parents, and all his relatives were waiting for him.
“My dear Vitia was such a bright, sincere, kind person who did not take advantage of others but tried to give everything he had to his relatives and all Ukrainians. There are no more people like my Vitia,” Iuliia burst out in sorrow.
Vitia and Yulia have two children: a five-year-old son Danylko, and an 11-year-old daughter from Viktor’s first marriage, Stefania. As a father, Viktor combined discipline and fun. Iuliia says Bryt was like a superhero for their kids. Though she already sees how they take after Viktor, she wishes they could learn more from their father.
Yulia cherishes all the memorabilia related to her husband: for instance, a notebook where Viktor would take notes and keep track of their family plans and achievements, or numerous voice messages he would send to her and the kids no matter where he was, even at the battlefront.
“I will do everything so that neither Danylo, nor Stefania forget about their dad; so that they have a memory of their dad as a hero; so that they know they had a happy childhood; that Vitia took care of them, worried about them, gave advice, wanted the best for them in life,” said Yulia as if taking a vow.
Iuliia is devasted by the loss of her beloved husband but she is full of hope that despite all the suffering Ukraine is going through, we are close to victory over evil.
“The wound will not heal, and the pain may subside over time. Vitia had a happy life in the U.K., which he exchanged for the war, for the defense of the Motherland. I sincerely believe that the hardships Ukraine is suffering will be justified, and people won’t let the sacrifices of our soldiers be in vain.”