A lieutenant-colonel of the Operational Command Center Agency “North” Vitalii Lavrenchuk was born in a military family on July 25, 1976, in the city of Groznyi, Chechnia. He dreamed of becoming a professional serviceman like his father since childhood, and for this reason, he persistently went towards his goal.
In 1993, Vitalii entered the Military College in the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi. However, in 1996, he left military service, and a year later, Vitalii was conscripted into the Armed Forces on the contract basis.
Shortly afterward, he continued studying at the Military-Engineering Department in Kamianets-Podilskyi National Agrarian-Technical University. After graduating it in 1988, Vitalii was enlisted at the command of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
He graduated from the National University of Defense of Ukraine in Kiev.
On September 16, 2014, a highly experienced career soldier and lieutenant-colonel of the Operational Command Center Agency “North” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vitalii Lavrenchuk was sent to the Zone of Anti-Terrorist Operation as part of the task group of the headquarters of Anti-Terrorist Operation in the sector “M” on the territory of Donetsk Oblast.
During performing the engineering works on one of the checkpoints, our military forces were mortared by separatists. As a result, a few soldiers were wounded, and the lieutenant-colonel was killed on the spot on September 20, 2014.
Vitalii Lavrenchuk was buried on September 24, 2014, in the village of Malyi Vyshnopil, Starokostiantyniv Raion, Khmelnytskyi Oblast, where his parents live.
According to the Presidential Executive Order № 270/2015 on May 15, 2015, the soldier was posthumously awarded the Third Class Order of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi “for courage and high professionalism demonstrated in the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, loyalty to the military oath”. He has also been conferred a title of the Honorary Citizen of the city of Rivne.
Publications about Vitalii Lavrenchuk
The Lieutenant Colonel was killed in the Luhansk region
38-year-old Lieutenant Colonel of expeditious command “Pivnich” (“North”) Vitalii Lavrenchuk, who from the first days of the anti-terrorist operation carried out tasks in the ATO zone, died on Saturday, September 20, on the territory of Luhansk. He was engaged in the provision of checkpoints, strongholds, and base camps with engineering equipment. During engineering work on one of the block-posts of our troops, the separatists shelled it with mortars. As a result, several soldiers were wounded, and Lieutenant Colonel was killed on the spot.
Vitalii Lavrenchuk, just recently graduated from a military Academy in Kyiv, did not even have time to move to Rivne his family, his wife and two children, 11-year-old daughter and one-year-old son. He was buried in the Khmelnytsky region, where his parents live.
The command staff of management of expeditious command “Pivnich” (“North”) and the editorial office of Rivne Vechirnie newspaper express their sincere condolences to the family of Vitalii Lavrenchuk.
An Officer from a capital letter
Lieutenant Colonel Vitalii Lavrenchuk always considered protection of the native land as a sacred duty and a matter of honor of every officer and men. When in the East of Ukraine towns and villages burnt, he did not hesitate any moment. He was sure that his specialty and experience are necessary in the ATO zone. At home, everyone has understood everything; they were supporting and waiting. Unfortunately, to return from the burning East was not meant to be for Vitalii Lavrenchuk. His family and friends will remember the hero, Ukraine will be proud of its son, and the heart of his beloved wife will remain his bright image forever.
The car, which Ms Oksana is driving, goes slowly. Trying not to spatter children hurrying up to school with autumn mud, the woman carefully inspects every pothole. A loud sound and then a slight push make her stop and get out of the car. So there it is – the right rear tire is hissing menacingly. Automatically, Ms Oksana pulls out her phone from her pocket and, without even looking at the screen, presses a button. A few minutes and everything will be OK. If only her husband is not busy and can answer the phone.
But suddenly, the woman stops for a moment. The hand with the phone is going down helplessly. She immediately lacks air. Eyes are welling with unexpected tears.
…It is useless to call. Lieutenant Colonel Vitalii Lavrenchuk will never be able to answer his wife’s call. The officer was killed on September 20, 2014 on the fourth day of his trip, where he was sent as a member of the headquarters’ operational group of the Antiterrorist operation.
And the officer’s wife still can not accept the inevitable reality. It seems that it is worth to wait. And the door will open again letting the owner to come in. As always, he will be with a tired smile on his lips. And the kids will be happily snuggling to their dad whom they had already missed. It has happened already not once. So it must happen now. For Oksana Lavrenchuk, her husband is just in his ordinary trip.
“We need to learn how to live without him,” quietly says the woman. – “I can’t still accept the fact that he is gone. I have the feeling that he must return. I can’t even put his portrait at home. Maybe it will pass… over time…”.
However, she remembers each of their days spent together up to the smallest details. Especially the day they first met with Vitalii. And this was preceded by a real friendship with his younger sister Kateryna. Oksana went to school at that time. One morning, when she came to class, she noticed a new girl who stood awkwardly by the window. The girl walked over to the newcomer and tried to cheer her up with a conversation. Perhaps it started with that warm, almost family relationship between two classmates. Soon Oksana became a part of Katya’s family. The girl came with her parents and older brother to a “city of chestnuts” from Yekaterynburh. Because the father of her friend was a military, Vitalii in no time gained favor of the girl by the respect with which he treated his sister and her. He had never mocked or tried to put himself above, as it often happens with guys who have younger sisters. Moreover, their communication over time was getting more and more interesting and rich.
It continued for several years. Both youngsters have started to notice that they stopped to be just friends to each other. Vitalii did not hesitate to express his feelings to the girl and offered to start dating. Oksana agreed, after all, the words from a young man were long-awaited for her.
“You’re going to be my wife anyway”, – categorically said the guy. And he was right. In 2000, they joined their destinies. Oksana officially became the wife of Vitalii Lavrenchuk.
Remembering the seventeen years of marriage, Ms. Oksana says, “First of all, Vitalii was my friend. And only then, he was husband and caring father. Though, we spent too little time together. He left home early and returned late. But on Sundays we always tried to be together. And it does not matter where we were and what we were doing. In our marriage, we did not have something like a habit. We had LOVE”.
Vitalii, the senior officer of the organizational-planning department of Directorate of operational support of the Command Headquarters of Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine really had to work a lot. But his relatives have never heard from the man a single word of complaint. Military service is like any other work, clearly defined. And Vitalii Lavrenchuk knew his job and loved it, and sought not to confine just with the orders and job descriptions. When he got his education at the military-engineering faculty in Kamianets-Podilskyi State Agrarian and Technical University, he, oddly enough, with the same ardor and zeal worked with machines and with people. Colleagues remember that he was the best to find common language with cadets.
While being still a senior Lieutenant Vitalii has never allowed his fosterlings to go on leave without any money at all. The man believed that is was unacceptable circumstance that the young man would not have the opportunity to buy some ice cream or to take a girl to a cinema. If this has happened, he never hesitated and took out money from his own pocket and gave to the soldier. The military is not only a man with a gun, being a guard of peace. He should be a good psychologist, expert on human souls. Vitalii Lavrenchuk had an extremely important character trait, he was caring and at the same time demanding. He never had “favourite” soldiers or “black list” soldiers. He treated them like his own children.
And, apparently, because of this fate has given the man a great joy to be a father of a magic daughter Vladyslava and lively son Illia.
Having children is another bright page in the book of life of Oksana and Vitalii. “We always had good relationships. But my husband really wanted a son. After his birth he carried me on his hands because of happiness,” remembers the widow of the killed officer.
Children became the meaning of soldier’s life and joy in everyday difficult routine. Tired or not, he always found time to spend time with kids. Together with Vladyslava they were walking through the park. And the girl went wild with joy when the next day he heard from classmates compliments of his power, sometimes being strict, but her favourite daddy. And little Illia felt him so deep that could win his father’s heart forever. Illia could spend hours sitting on his father’s legs not bothering tired mom with crying. And Colonel Lavrenchuk, who not once looked into the eyes of danger, was afraid to move for not to disturb this fragile little happiness.
Home, work, business trips. The years passed quickly. And Vitalii Lavrenchuk in a frantic whirlwind of life always tried to find time for his family, wife, children, sister Kateryna, and his parents Victor and Tetiana. He had a friendly attitude to the father-in-law Volodymyr and mother-in-law Nina. His biggest fear was to accidentally hurt his beloved ones in the heat of a discussion. So at any cost, he avoided conflicts. He was convinced that the ability to choose the “peaceful” words lies in the art of being the officer. Those who walked with him side by side called him the Officer from a capital letter.
From everyday worries, he found rest in fishing. Even to this case he came up, on the one hand professionally, and on the other hand with real passion. So, his wife and his parents tried to cancel all their plans and to let go a loved one to rest.
Another passion of Vitalii Lavrenchuk were bees. He could spend hours with them in the garden. Everything has begun in his childhood. Vitalii’s father was an avid beekeeper. Even Oksana joined the family business. Now she is able to run all the “sweet business” not worse than the husband was. She is not planning to get rid of beehives. She feels sorry to ruin the hobby of life of a loved one. And she finds comfort in these solar insects. It reminds the woman those times when they were still together with Vitalii every spring enjoying this bee symphony.
To an ATO zone, Colonel Lavrenchuk came in September 2014. But before that was the National University of Defence of Ukraine named after Ivan Cherniakhovskyi. After the graduation in June 2014, Colonel Lavrenchuk leaves from Kiev to new places of service, Territorial command “Pivnich” (“North”), located in Rivne. A few months later the man was regularly performed the duties of chief of the hydrometeorological service of the Directorate of operational support of the headquarters of the operational command “Pivnich” (“North”) (now “Zakhid” (“West”).
Full-scale fighting have already started. Vitalii Lavrenchuk from the first days tactfully but firmly told his wife that he was not going to hide behind of the ranks and medical papers. He explained that he discharges his duty as an officer until the last, no matter what happens. Oksana did not expect from her husband any other decision.
It had to be another trip. Anxiety was caused only by the location – sector “M” on the border of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The forefront requires professionals. So, Vitalii Viktorovych was not going to delay. The whole family was preparing the officer for his trip. “We personally bought all the uniforms. He was given only the gun” – the widow of the deceased does not hide the truth.
And even in this situation, the woman found consolation. It seemed that the armament gathered by her own hands would better save a loved one from danger. She hoped for a quick return of her husband. There were so many plans! The day before the couple was sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea. Bluish cool air filled the room with freshness and reminded about the coming autumn.
“You know,” – Oksana suddenly bowed her head to the husband’s shoulder. – “I’m the luckiest woman! I have everything: a loving husband, children. Parents are alive. What else could I need?”
She looked her beloved in his eyes. And the man gave her a hug. As if promised that there was no need to worry and that everything would be fine.
They remembered this evening on Saturday morning when the phone of the young woman received the long awaited call. Over the years of marriage, the wife of the officer clearly knew that calling her husband first was not only inconvenient but in some cases dangerous.
She had, like hundreds of other military wives, only to wait for news. This time she got it. The conversation was short, but for both it was important, though, to hear a dear voice. Wishing her man a good day, Oksana hung out the phone and hurried to the children.
Sunday morning began with the scared eyes of the daughter. Vladyslava, despite the early time, came to mom in the kitchen dressed and with a laptop.
“Mom, why everyone are sending their condolences to us?” – asked the child surprisingly. – “Many messages. Did something bad happen?”
Oksana took the laptop from her daughter’s hands. And really. One message, the second one… I am sorry… Irreparable loss… Hold on…
“What a nonsense!” the women thought inside her mind. – “Stupid jokes! Can these people be so mean and cruel to do this?!”
Ms Oksana till the end refused to believe the thing that the subconscious whispered. To dispel the terrible suspicions, he dialled phone numbers of their family.
“I’m sorry. It’s true. We didn’t want you to know it from us.”
The words were following down like stones, and were destroying everything on their way. Friendly home fire has turned into ashes. Everything will never be as it was before. After all, yesterday afternoon happened irreparable – the Colonel Vitalii Lavrenchuk was killed during a combat mission.
Someone rang the door stronger and stronger. When the woman finally opened it, a close relative who came to support and help, staggered backward. The young widow looked at her with surprise. Terrible news struck the woman and she did not feel that her lips were bitten to the blood.
And then… and then the formalities. Confirmation from the military Commissariat, the organization of the body transportation, the funeral. Till the end she lived with a ghostly hope: perhaps a mistake. Someone confused. Perhaps he just looks like someone else.
All doubts disappeared when she saw the dear face. Death took pity on the fallen officer and did not distort his appearance. He was buried in an open coffin.
How it happened, Oksana still doesn’t know. Combat brothers of her husband told that on that fateful day, he had to be on duty at the checkpoint. The sector was dominated by a short lull. The enemy did not detect its presence. Duty was promised to pass without the great shooting.
Then everything was instantly. Like in a bad movie.
Something happened with a rocket launcher. Colonel Lavrenchuk stopped it to find out and eliminate the cause of the fault. The technique has stopped. Vitalii entirely focused on work. In second a short flash and the sound appeared. It was not enough time either to think or to remember. He even could not understand what had happened when the heart had made the final hit. Enemy’s mortar worked professionally…
His last earthly shelter Vitalii Lavrenchuk has found in the Khmelnytskyi region, in the village Malyi Vyshnopil, in the birthplace of his father, where he used to play as a child and gladly visited being adult. During his life, he visited his parents, loved these places, and half-jokingly ordered to bury him here. He was a man of faith. He rarely had time to attend Church but on Easter he always tried to pass the night service.
More then everyone he wanted to live enjoying every step of a little son and daughter’s success. He had a dream to be a godfather to the children of his fighting brothers and comrades.
It is not meant to be…
But, it seems that even from heaven, her husband continues to take care about loved ones. Vladyslava, if not every night, sees her daddy in her dreams. They are talking to each other. As in life, father is interested in all things of his daughter, and she answers to him willingly.
And she wakes up in the morning with a heavy heart. After all, the conversation with dad is a dream. The girl tries not to show her sadness. She is anxious to support her mother, to help her. For little Illia, everything is easier. He does not realize what had happened, and always recognize dad’s face on the photos.
Oksana tries to be an example for children and to live with dignity. Only when everyone falls asleep, she can sink with her teeth into a pillow and come over again in a silent prayer to God to turn everything back the way it was before. But the wife of the officer knows that this is impossible. It is very important to keep the light on human memory and not tarnish his honour. All the warmth and love Oksana gives to their children. And also to her friends with the same grief.
Tire continued to sizzle. And the woman stood bewildered under the biting autumn rain clutching the phone.
“Can I help you?” – sounded so suddenly that she even got scared. And it was only a neighbour who had similar trouble. With all necessary equipment after repairing his car, he started to do the same with Oksana’s car. After a while, the breakage was rectified, and the woman sat down again behind at the steering weal.
“Thank you!” – she whispered, looking at the mobile phone of her husband, which she did not dare to get rid of.
The officer’s wife knew exactly WHO had helped her today.
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Lavrenchuk Vitalii Viktorovych // Kyivska miska derzhavna administratsiia [Kyiv City State Council].
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