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This young hero, who destroyed ten enemy tanks in a matter of days, comes and sits modestly to talk to me. The eyes are clear, the gaze is bright and luminous. Sergeant Edgar Markosyan is the Deputy Commander of a battery, the Commander of the Squadron, who has shown exceptional dedication, courage and professionalism during the combat operations.
– All the results we have recorded are the result of teamwork, Edgar hastened to “share” his reward with his comrades-in-arms from the very beginning. From Maj Genl Shakaryan to soldiers, we have all carried out united and organized work. Hamlet Hunanyan and Dima Husikyan, my operator and driver, are my fighting friends. What we did, we did with a strong team of staff. It is only due to the high fighting spirit and unanimity of our troops that we are achieving success today by fighting to the teeth against the Azerbaijani and Turkish troops and mercenary terrorists.
– What can you say about your first battle?
– It was the 27th of the month. We had information from the intelligence that there would be an attack. We were ready early in the morning, took up positions, and about two hours later heavy shelling began. At first, three enemy tanks came to our positions. An alarm sounded. We launched the anti-tank “Cornet”. At some distance, the commander of our other unit, Harutyun Dokhoyan, and I were defending one direction. We were watching the movement of the enemy. When we found out that the target was invulnerable from one position, we contacted the other so that if possible, he would hit. According to accurate calculations, we infallibly hit the tanks approaching the column, destroying the target with one fire. We did not allow a single tank to approach our positions. In the following days, when we went out to observe, no tanks approached.
– Maybe they understood that it is useless, whoever comes will be hit?
– We hit as many as there were, – says Edgar with undisguised pride and enthusiasm. In very difficult situations, I always thought God would save me.
– What do you mean by God would save you?
– That I have faith in myself. I know this fight is the fight of our faith. I do not like to talk about it much. This is very deep, words are not needed.
– Dear Edgar, what emergency situations have you been in? Tell a story.
– Everything is extraordinary in this war. The last case was interesting, when in a short period of time I hit two tanks. Two tanks were approaching. I went as far as possible from the post so that the position would not be targeted, because immediately after launching the rocket we are under fire, they start observing and firing from all sides. My friend Hamlet Hunanyan and I took our place. Grad missles started flying in our direction, and two “Kamikazes” were circling above. The fighter was hitting from the other side. I immediately hit the first tank. The second one, who was moving towards the nearby village at that moment, noticed my place. He immediately turned to me and fired straight at me. I was wearing headphones, I could not hear well. My friend said. “Come on, hurry up!” “Kamikadze” was approaching from behind. We noticed a hole in the forest. We threw ourselves into that hole. “Kamikadze” hit about ten meters away from us. The other was still spinning above our heads. The second tank was standing on the road to the village, trying to enter the village. We came back running. This time I did not get up. Without looking behind the mound with a solid mark, I almost gave the direction, I had already done the calculation. In about ten seconds, my rocket was about to reach the tank. I fired the rocket and started counting with a watch. I counted for six seconds and got up. I saw through the optics that the barrel was aimed directly at me, but they saw the rocket from the tank and tried to escape. At the last moment, I aimed the missile at the tank, right where the projectiles were. It was accurate; the tank exploded…
– In these days of war we receive information about the incredible feats of our soldiers, commanders and volunteers. What drives our fighters to such exceptional heroism today?
– We are fighting for our own land. For the land that has always been and will be ours. The losses are many and dear, these lands are saved at the cost of life. We have not an inch of land to give to someone else. We must all unite, whoever can, to support our victory.
– Did you feel the strength of the rear, the support in the positions?
– Absolutely. Food, water, cigarettes, sleeping bags, everything was received and distributed. I do not know whose idea that was, but we were very inspired by the sneakers, on which it was written: “Definitely eat, eat two to be twice as strong.” It is very important when you feel the care and warmth behind you, they help you, you feel more committed. You realize that it is not only the land that you keep, but also the people living on that land, who are your blood relatives, your brothers, your sisters… My dear sister has a son, Mikael. I was in the service when my sister got married. I could not come home because of the virus. My sister’s baby is now four months old. When I came, I took my nephew in my arms for the first time… Standing there, first of all, you think about the most defenseless – our children and elderly. We are fighting for Mikael and our other children today. We will hand over the task of protecting our land to them in the future.
– When did you know the news of being awarded the title of Hero?
– At that time I was still in the monitoring position. The tanks were hitting … I heard fragments of our guys’ words from different sides: “medal”, “hero”, “Tatul Krpeyan”, “Vazgen Sargsyan”, “Edgar Markosyan”, etc., but there was no time to think about it. Then the commander of our artillery and the commander of our unit came by car and called me. I still did not understand why. They said, “Come on, we’re going to take a picture with our hero.” At first it was very hard to believe. It’s a very high title… But, to be honest, I had no joy at that time… we had lost friends.
– What is that title for you at this moment, when you are not at war?
– What I do is not a big thing for me. Just my professional duty, I have done the task entrusted to me. It is a great honor, of course, but now is the time when such things are secondary, we still have a problem to solve…
– Now, when you are away from your friends, how do you feel?
– I am very worried. When you are there, you know what is happening, you are calmer. I want to recover soon. On the one hand, health problems made my job difficult. When we had to do hit a tank, I sometimes needed to sit down while moving and running fast. Sometimes the tanks came close and I could not catch my breath. All these problems are being solved quickly now. I can already sit and stand.
– Do you communicate with the guys in your unit?
– I spoke again five minutes ago. It is not easy for the guys but their spirit is, as always, high. We have gone through such things! The boys performed such miracles! Even the willingness to give one’s life for each other is unique. When I look back, it’s like a movie about our time. The guys have done and are doing such things, it is unbelievable.
– Ten tanks, did you count the tanks you hit in your mind?
– I did not count. All I could think about was hitting.
– You have the highest title of Hero of the Artsakh Republic…
– In these battles, every soldier, every officer, realizing what the task is set before him, how great the danger is, was not depressed, he was ready to die at any moment for the common goal. This is real heroism, and our guys are all heroes. Definitely. We are fighting for our homeland, our land, for our nation, for our children. We fight of our own free will, and they are forced and aimless.
– What does a person think when looking in the eyes of the death, what does a soldier like you think, what is the driving force of courage? Where is the instinct of self-defense?
– If you understand the situation you are in and realize that you can die at any moment, the fear is very normal and natural. Fear is the instinct of self-defense. But when you learn to control that instinct, to restrain yourself, never to get depressed, not to panic and to use your skills as effectively as possible, the feeling of fear turns into a powerful weapon.
– Now, if you were physically fit, would you go again?
– Absolutely! I only stepped down when I realized I was physically disabled and could be a burden to my friends.
– When did you get wounded?
– There was no wound, it is a back injury. The missiles are very heavy, about 50-55 kg. As the drones monitored the equipment, we had to carry two 100-kilogram missiles up the mountain. I felt a sharp pain in my back while lifting the next rockets… I still hoped that two or three days would pass, I would take full part in the operations. I thought I could still shoot. I ignored the pain for a few days and then realized that even if I felt the weight of the weapon, I could not help my friends. Seeing that my condition was getting worse day by day, my commanders persuaded me to go down…
In Stepanakert I met with Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan. It was an indescribable excitement and pride…
– What do you want to convey to your guys who fight?
– I will say that we will definitely win! Dear guys, do not despair. Our unity is strong. I want peace for all of us, but only a victorious peace.
– Last week I talked to Harutyun Dokhoyan. You were still on the position. We gossiped a lot about you,- I change the subject. He also said that you were a wonderful duo on the battlefield. He spoke of you with admiration.
– I really want to see our Dokh. For about two months I did not know that his name was Harutyun. Dokhoyan, we called him Dokh. One day the boys were saying, “Harut, Harut.” “Who is Harut?” I asked. “It’s me?” “Wow, dear Dokh, are you really Harut?” We had a good laugh. Do you know what kind of person Harut is?… He is an incredibly devoted person. Always by your side, always loyal. It is a bit closed with character. And, to be honest, we could never have imagined before that Harut would come out like that and fight against the enemy’s military equipment without fear. We were all amazed. We saw him from a completely different angle. Harut and I studied with each other for a couple of days, realizing that we would “fight ” together. When there was a tank that was easier to hit than the others, we would start shouting at each other, “Dokh, you hit this one.” “No, Ed, it’s yours, you hit.” And the number of hit tanks and equipment was not enough, but to be ready to support each other, to help each other. From the very beginning of the war, Harut became a very dear friend to me.
– Did you talk to each other after you left?
– I do not have his phone number. I would love to talk to him.
– Well, let’s make a surprise, he does not know that you are here. Shall we call him?
-Yes, of course:
“Dear Harut, there’s someone here who wants to talk to you,” I handed the phone to Edgar.
“My good war friend?” said Edgar with unbridled joy.
– Edo? Edo jan…
-What’s New. my brother
-Where are you: Aren’t you injured?
– No, because of those missiles, my back finally ‘stopped,'” Edgar jokes. I am at the hospital.
-Yes: I am on release. I will come to see you…
– Well, we will see and talk.
– OK, my brother…
… That’s it. The boys have their secrets, they will speak without me. Well, tell me, is there anything sweeter and more precious than a war brotherhood in this world?
By KNAR TADEVOSYAN
Photos by AREG VARDANYAN