Pavlo Petrenko was born on December 3, 1989, in the town of Zdolbuniv. He studied at the local comprehensive school №3. After finishing it, he entered the Institute of Business in Poltava of the International Scientific and Technological University and obtained a qualification of a manager.
From October 2010 to October 2013, Pavlo did military service on the contract basis in the city of Khmelnytskyi. On June 14, 2014, he was enlisted as a volunteer to the military unit of the National Guards of Ukraine in the Donbas Battalion. In July 2015, the soldier got injured performing a combat mission. After treatment, Pavlo returned to the Zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation. Later, he came under fire near the village of Katerynivka, Donetsk Oblast. It was thought for a long time that Pavlo had gone missing.
The circumstances of death: in the morning of August 29, 2014, during the departure out of Illovaisk ‘Pothole’ through the ‘Green Corridor’ a fire fighting truck was on the way in the mechanized column of the Donbas Battalion from the village of Mnohopillia to the village of Chervonosilske. On the outskirts of Chervonosilske, the fire fighting truck ran into the position of the Russian tank T-72 from the 6th Tank Brigade of the Armed Forces of Russian Federation and took a direct hit. Pavlo was shooting from a Jesika machine-gun. He got 2 shots near the heart and one – to his leg. The fragments of his body were collected on September 29, 2014, in the village of Chervonosilske by the members of a search group and delivered to the morgue in Zaporizhzhia. The body was identified on the basis of DNA testing, and on April 4, 2015, Pavlo was buried in the town of Zdolbuniv, Rivne Oblast.
According to the Presidential Executive Order №651/2014 on August 14, 2014, Pavlo Petrenko was posthumously decorated with the Medal for the Ukrainian Military Service “for personal bravery and heroism demonstrated in the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
According to the Presidential Executive Order №365/2015 on June 28, 2015, Pavlo was also posthumously decorated with the Third Class Order For Bravery “for personal courage and high professionalism demonstrated in the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and loyalty to the military oath”.
Life and feat of Pavlo Petrenko
Pavlo Ivanovych Petrenko was enrolled in a military unit of National Guard of Ukraine in Donbass battalion as a volunteer on 14 June, 2014. Nobody from his family knew about the decision to go to the war. He regularly phoned the mother and said that everything was good, and that he had to cut the conversation because he was really busy.
In July 2014 he was wounded and sent to a hospital in Vinnytsia for treatment. He was awarded with a medal “For the military service of Ukraine” according to Decree of the President № 651/2014 of 14 August, 2014 “For courage and heroism revealed in protection of the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. But he did not receive it because he had not even finished the treatment – he literally ran out to war. For several days the man stayed in Kyiv at home of the parents of his friend and fellow soldier “Red”, or Yevhenii Kharchenko, who was a reserve soldier; then Pavlo went back to the battalion in the midst of battles for Ilovaisk. Pavlo’s relatives knew neither about the injury nor about his return to the front. On 29 August, when Ukrainian troops were leaving the surrounded town, a group of six soldiers of the military unit “Donbas” (including Bani and Red) headed by the commander of the first company and reserve captain Tur (Serhii Petrov) and not having any other transport, used a fire truck hastily protected with boards, sleepers and sandbags to get out of here.
Russian military without any distinguishing marks stood on a prepared fire positions; they first let the Ukrainian columns go and then began to shoot. Not far from Chervonosilske village the fire truck was destroyed by a direct hit of a tank shell of T-72 of 6th Tank Brigade of Armed forces of Russian Federation. None of the six reservists of National Guard survived. Pavlo fired a machine gun Jessica. He got two bullets in the heart area and one in a leg. He died together with Red, Tur, Vosmyi, Biriuk and Ahim. Bani’s remains were gathered on 29 September 2014 in Chervonosilske village by members of a search party and then sent to a morgue in Zaporizhzhia. As it turned out later, the remains of Pavlo’s body gathered by search teams, were found out in morgues of different cities (Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro).
Almost a year his relatives who were informed about the death of Pavlo were searching for the body. After to expertise and DNA tests, Bani was identified but only in April 2015. The burial of twenty-four-year old Pavlo Petrenko took place on 4 April, 2014. His countrymen came to the town club to say goodbye to the handsome, courageous man who died heroically defending Ukraine from an impudent aggression of foreigners. Despair of relatives, tears of sworn brothers and farewell fireworks made hearts of each, who came there to pay the respect, to tremble. And most of all everyone wanted our land not to receive Cargo 200 anymore, and wished boys to get married, raise kids, build houses, plant trees.
In August 2018, the soldier’s mother Olha Ivanivna was informed that remains from one of the graves in Dnipro belonged to her son. Olha Ivanivna decided to exhume it. Then remains were cremated in Kyiv and buried in Zdolbuniv. An employee of the National Museum of Military History of Ukraine Pavlo Netesov, who accompanied Olha Ivanivna, posted on his Facebook page the mother’s words: “Do you know how long they hve been trying to discourage me from that trip? Anyway, I think that we should do it, even if Pavlo is in the heaven, but there is the body that we have to bury properly, putting together all the particles. That is why I decided to walk this path by myself. At first time my elder son went to Zaporizhzhia to take Pavlo home and after the return he looked like he aged 10 years. Let’s see if I can handle it…” The urn with ashes was buried on 5 August, 2018 after the mourning ceremony in the presence of relatives, close friends, co-villagers and sworn brothers.
A commemorative plaque for Pavlo Petrenko was opened up on the front of Zdolbuniv secondary school № 3. Except the public, the ceremony of opening was visited by his sworn brothers, people’s deputy of Ukraine Oleksandr Dechtiarchuk, chairman of district administration Serhii Kondrachuk, deputies of Zdolbuniv district and city councils. The date of opening the plaque was chosen not accidentally, because exactly on 3 December Pavlo would’ve turned 26.
I remember some words of his headmistress Larysa Kovalchuk: “Pavlo will forever stay in our memory as a young, cheerful and smiley man. One can say that people are immortal because souls don’t die. I sincerely believe that Pavlo’s soul is flying high in the sky right now as well as souls of the Heaven’s Hundred and other died soldiers. And in the quiet evenings they respond to us with flashes of stars.”