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These days, our servicemen and contract soldiers, who were wounded during the war, receive care and love by civilian medical institutions as well. We visited our wounded soldiers treated at Erebuni Medical Center and talked to some of them.
There is calmness and at the same time endless sadness in the eyes of Arman Amoyan, a Yezidi; he has lost friends. He answers my questions in Armenian mixed with Russian. “I wanted to serve in Armenia. After all, this is also my land, my homeland. I decided to serve in Armenia like my father, grandfather, and other men of our race. My family and I went to Russia when I was 4 years old. At the age of 18, I was unable to start the service because of the car accident wounds. I came a few years later, in a high and fighting mood. I was a little older than the other soldiers. They loved and respected me as much as I loved them. I have a lot of diplomas, letters of gratitude, medals – “Army Excellence”, “Brave Fighter”. “I wanted to achieve more, I was going to get the rank of sergeant soon, but the war stood in the way.”
Arman was hit in the spine during the fights, but the doctors promise a full recovery.
He took part in hostilities in one of the hottest spots in Artsakh. “I really wanted to stay until the victorious end of the war, to do more, but it turned out that on the second day of hostilities, on the evening of September 28, I was wounded and taken here. Of course, I managed to fight. We fought valiantly, we were very strong, we managed to inflict significant losses on the enemy. But… “. Arman slows down his speech in this part of his story, he lowers his gaze to hide the tears in his eyes from the pain of loss. “Have you lost friends?” I am asking. “Yes, and everyone was close to me, they came in tanks. We hit the tank, burned on the spot. But there were many of them. My friend was killed next to me. I tried to help, but it was too late…. They looked and behaved very strangely. We realized they were under influence of drugs. The only way to kill them was to shoot them in the head.”
“What are your thoughts after going through all this, dear Arman?” I asked. “I am thinking only one thing now. I will get up as soon as possible and go to our front line again. If I succeed, I will stay in the army as an officer after my term service, I will move to Armenia once and for all. I have already made my decision 100%. Our foundation, our root is here. Stay in Russia for a hundred years, it’s all the same, this land is calling you.”
Harutyun Baghdasaryan’s right hand has been amputaded down his shoulder. He lost his hand in a shell blast just a few days ago. My eyes see this painful picture, but Harutyun already with his strength of spirit, face of a fierce Sisian eagle and voiceless, confident and vigorous tone takes my mind and gaze away from his wounded hand. He is a full-fledged warrior in front of me. “I want to find a quick way to put my hand back in place, to close my wound, so that I can go and continue my fight. My friends are fighting now. How long can I sit like this?”
I inadvertently become infected with his spirit, but my realism is stronger. “But, dear Harutyun, how are you going to shoot with one hand and with the left?” And his answer is ready. “Well, I am left-handed. I shoot very well with my left hand. As soon as my wounds are closed, I’ll go.”
Harutyun is from Angeghakot village of Syunik. He is engaged in cattle breeding. He speaks with undisguised pride about his birthplace, the people around him. “It works well for us to keep one animal and to fight at another. Our villagers are the strongest fighters. As soon as we hear that the war has started, the men immediately get together and go to the front line. My brother also took part in the Artsakh war in the 1990s, fought until the ceasefire was established. Now both of his sons are in the positions. In 2016, I went to Talish during the Four Day War. But let me say that we were quite unprepared at that time. This time everything is very good. Weapons, water, food, cigarettes, everything.”
“What takes you to the battlefield?” I want to know more about this incredible power of his will and the roots of self-control. “What else are we to do?” he says with simplicity and straightforwardness. “We are going to keep our land, to protect our children.” I have three children. My youngest son is 5 years old. Mom, Dad, we are a large family.” “How do you family members feel about your decision to go to war?” “The children are crying a little. Well, they are young, they don’t get it … Our enemy has no mercy. If we let them to, they would kill everyone – child or adult. We will not allow it.” At that moment, the nurse approaches us and checks how the drains are. “Great,” Harutyun responds, “then it turns to me, ‘we must go to the end. It is our land, our water, we must keep it at all costs.”
“I am already in the recovery phase,” says Harutyun Dokhoyan, a modest hero who took out 5 tanks, 1 armored vehicle and 1 TOS.
There is impatience in the voice: “The doctor says I will recover soon.”
“What will you do first?” I am asking. “I will return to my friends immediately,” he did not hesitate to answer.
“Everything becomes normal, war and shelling become commonplace,” Harutyun says. “You think this is life. When I came to the hospital on the first day after the injury, I wondered why there were no explosions. It was an interesting feeling. Then I got used to this silence,” he smiles calmly.
“What is your brightest, most impressive memory of the fighting?”
“The most impressive, of course, was the hitting of my first tank. I watched as the column of tanks approached. I was fully aware. If I hit the first tank, the others will not come forward, otherwise they will attack one after the other. For a moment I doubted whether I would hit or not, at the same time I decided that I would definitely hit. I put the target on it and fired. And … it was a hit! The excitement of me and our other boys was indescribable. This was the first tank hit by our section, the first real fire, the explosion, the victory… Before that, we still had no idea what our weapons were capable of. We now have a great respected of it.”
“What conclusions have you made during these days of war?”
“I realized that the most important thing is to be united. The boys of my battery are my brothers, my friends, with whom we fought as one man. This is our strength in the most difficult moment, this is the secret of success. You have heard about Edgar Markosyan, he was recently awarded the title of Artsakh Hero; he has hit ten tanks. He is from battery. He held one position, I held the other. We were in constant contact with each other, we fought together. Our unit has been very successful in its operations. Even before the fighting, I was sure that our battery would fully perform its task. That’s what happened. We fought with our friends as if we were soldiers who had fought for a thousand years. The role of our commanders is very important. They guide our actions very accurately and perfectly. Under their guidance, we ensured 100% result of the enemy’s military equipment. “While they fire 50 times without a precise shot, our shots are 100 percent accurate.”
“Myths about the TOS you hit are already circulating. How did you hit it?”
“We were in the position. I called my commander and said I noticed an attack from a distance. We targeted the approaching military equipment, we waited because the distance was to big, we did not see what exactly it was. Only larvae were crawling in the dust cloud. I saw that it was much faster than the tank. I reported and received the command: “Hit it!” When the dust fell, we could see what it was. It was something I saw for the first time. I later learned that it was TOS. It is an expensive military equipment.
… There was no paramedic when I got wounded, but before that we had seen so much of their work, the work of our officers, that we were able to provide first aid ourselves. My friend Gegham did not hesitate. He quickly bandaged my hand and moved me to a safe place. Now he is at the forefront. I have spoken to him. He is fine. Their spirit is very high. We already feel victorious. From here I tell them, “Just hold on, I’m coming …”
By KNAR TADEVOSYAN
Photos by SIPAN GYULUMYAN and the author