Name: Valeriy Chybineyev

Age: 28

Education: Odessa Institute of Ground Forces

Profession: Captain of a sniper company of the 79th Brigade

Did you know? Chybineev became famous after a Facebook post that volunteer Roman Sinicyn wrote about him went viral and was liked 27,000 times.

Ukrainian soldier Valeriy Chybineyev got the surprise of his life when President Petro Poroshenko granted him a Hero of Ukraine medal, the country’s highest award, during the military parade on Ukraine’s Independence Day on Aug. 24.

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Chybineyev, 28, the commander of the sniper battalion within the 79th Airborne Brigade, had no idea he was going to get the award until his name was announced on Kyiv’s Independence Square. Seconds later, Poroshenko handed him the medal.

Chybineyev didn’t even want to go to the parade. He wanted to stay with his battalion in Avdiyivka in Donetsk Oblast, in one of the hottest spots of the war between Ukraine and joined Russian-separatist forces.

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The sniper is one of only nine people who received a Hero of Ukraine award in 2016, and the youngest one of those still living. Six of the nine received it posthumously.  

Chybineyev got his award for “valor, heroism and professionalism in protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty.” The sniper company led by him conducted several successful operations in Donetsk Oblast.

Chybineyev also was among the soldiers who valiantly but unsuccessfully defended Ukrainian army positions protecting the ruined Donetsk Airport in January 2015.

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He was born in Berdyansk, an Azov Sea port city of 116,000 people in Zaporizhzhya Oblast, 718 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. He grew up in an orphanage and decided to go into the military, inspired by the son of the orphanage’s director, who was a paratrooper.

When Russia started its war in the spring of 2014, Chybineyev’s unit was sent to the front. Combat came as a shock to him. His company faced their first enemy fire in Chervony Lyman; several soldiers near him were wounded. He endured much danger since then. Once, Chybineyev and two other soldiers saved three soldiers from inside a tank that had hit a land mine. Another time, Chybineyev was nearly taken captive by Russian-backed forces, but pretended to be one of them and returned to his military base under fire. Thanks to his warning, the base soldiers were able to fight off enemy troops, forcing them to retreat.  

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Chybineyev was wounded when a shell fragment hit him in the shoulder. Still, he refused to leave his company. Some of his hardest moments came during the battles of the winter of 2015. “You couldn’t do anything but pray. It’s hard to realize that nothing depends on your actions,” he said.

Now Chybineyev wants to create a sniper school based on his battalion to help other people “to share the experience we get at war, and help newcomers avoid making the mistakes we made.”

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