Vasyl was born on September 29th, 1991, in the town of Zdolbuniv, Rivne Oblast. After finishing Zdolbuniv Secondary School №1, Vasyl continued his education in Rivne Vocational School. He was one of the first among his peers who firmly decided to defend his native land and bravely went to the front line. Vasyl was conscripted according to the partial mobilization on August 14th, 2014. While fighting at the hot spots, he often called his mother to free her from agitation, at least for some time.
Vasyl Zhuk heroically died on January 25th, 2015, during the mortar shelling near the legendary Donetsk airport.
Our countryman, a sergeant of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was only 23 years old.
According to the Presidential Executive Order №, 311/2015 on June 4th, 2015, Vasyl Zhuk was posthumously awarded the Third Class Order For Bravery “for personal courage and high professionalism demonstrated in defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, loyalty to the military oath.”
“There will be no more….”
“The parents of Vasyl Zhuk should know that their son is a hero,” said Roman Svistun, a rifleman of the battalion “OUN,” who came from Lviv to Zdolbuniv to visit his family. Recently, Roman returned home for a vacation from the ATO area. After the death of Vasyl, he promised to tell the soldier’s fellow countrymen about such a courageous guy who lived next to them while he still was on the front, in the village of Piski in the Donetsk Oblast.
The youngest in the division
Roman Svystun finds it hard to tell about events associated with the death of Vasyl. Those who survived the hell of the war in the east of Ukraine can not calmly remember the brothers who fell, protecting our state.
– I met Vasyl one week before his death, – says Roman Svystun. – It was when the positions of their 93rd individual mechanized brigade reinforced the OUN battalion. Not far from our position was a two-story house where we lived. The top floor was destroyed, and the windows were knocked out, with sandbags laid down. But in the lobby on the first floor, there was plenty of space. A sizeable homemade table, benches, and sleeping pads were there. At the same time, the room served as peculiar storage: volunteers delivered us a stock of food and water, so we kept it there along with weapons. We kept ourselves warm near the oven and had electricity thanks to the gas generator. Sixteen of us lived there together. A shepherdess with four puppies came to us, and later the boys took the puppies with them when they went on vacation.
Vasyl was the youngest in his unit. But at the age of 23, he was very responsible and decent, humane, professionally fulfilled his duties. The role model for him were his comrades – senior Roman Yulchyshyn and Sergeant Victor Klochan. Roman is from the Lviv Oblast, Viktor is from the Cherkasy Oblast. The war left a deep scar on the fate of each. Roman was wounded when Vasily died; he is now in treatment at the Lviv hospital. Victor, together with his son, served in Debaltsevo. Two weeks ago, he was given a vacation – he went to bury his son.
Gunmen from the battalion “OUN” respected Vasyl Zhuk as well. I am much older than Vasily, but I did not have military experience. Therefore, when I came to the front line, I turned to him, and he talked about weapons, a position on how to fight and survive. Vasily liked to listen to music, called parents, shared the news with friends in his spare time. And just a few hours before his death, he said that he would have a nephew after six months. I will never forget how his eyes shone and how happy Vasyl was. I was also sincerely delighted with this news, wished good health for his future nephew, and a compulsory vacation for Vasyl to see his nephew.
Rescuing the life of another, he risked his own
A man recalls the last day of a young soldier’s life with pain:
It happened on January 24th. On that day, just as before, Pisky was shot up by the separatists. With mortars, “Grads,” and occasionally from tanks. Each shot is a danger. But shots fired from tanks and self-propelled artillery units that come, shoot, and flee are the worst. You can’t “wipe them out” at once. Next to ours, on the left flank, was the position defended by the Dnipro-1 battalion. We know these soldiers too well because we used to talk to them in our spare time, and our commanders also coordinated military actions. Pisky was also defended by the “Right Sector,” “Transcarpathian Sich,” and “Sich” volunteer battalions. We were at our “house.” Someone was resting after duty; someone was cleaning the gun; other guys were cooking. Someone was praying. Near 4 pm, our observer over the radio ordered us to get into the basement in case of dense bombardments. But suddenly someone started to cry over the radio: “Attention,” two hundred, attention, “three hundred!”. Those were the positions next to us, which were guarded by the fighters of the Dnipro-1 battalion. The deceased didn’t even turn twenty.
Having heard the wounded, Roman and Vasyl report, wearing body armor and helmets, ran to save him. The intervals between the shots were reduced, and the guys dared to take a chance. There is a rule at war: unless the shots are not ceased, you can’t come out. But there is another rule: absorbed with the mother’s milk, Ukrainian songs, parents’ love, and love for Ukraine. And this rule was most crucial for the boys.
The following command that was broadcast on the radio was: “Combat alert, our position is under attack!”. We and the rest of those who remained indoors ran out and took battle places. Enemy attack was repulsed; there were no more losses. Then, according to the schedule, I went on duty and only came back house in the evening. I didn’t even notice the oppressing silence over there. In a few minutes, my battle brother, “Boer,” informed me that Vasyl was no longer alive and Roman was injured.
The spirit of fraternity is what helps our soldiers overcome the most dangerous obstacles. Besides Westerners, there are many volunteers from Crimea, Belarus, and Russia in the OUN battalion. When you see your battle brothers ready to take risks, you are prepared to do the same. The best guys go to protect Ukraine, but not everyone comes back.
There will always be others, but they will never be that way. But the memory of Vasily and all those who died for the independence of our state will surely live. Heroes never die. They become our guardian angels.