Vahe, Vkul, Kolya and others

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It is October 4. The Holy Cross Church in Akhalkalaki is ful lwith people. There is a Requiem service at the Holy Cross after the Holy Liturgy in memory of the soldiers who died heroically in the struggle for survival of Artsakh.

People mourn with restraint.

20-year-old Vahe Vardanyan was among the martyred Javakhk people. He was born in the village of Gumburdo in Javakhk; his family moved to Ashtarak, Nor Edesia, from where he was drafted. Died on September 28. Vahe’s name was among the first victims in this war.

The “Polytechnic” University, where he managed to enjoy student life for only 6 months in the design department, wrote Vahe Vardanyan’s name on its Facebook page and posted a short note as one of the killed students.

“We became friends in the army. I went to vacation two months ago, Vahe was coming back on January 9th. And I learned that Vahe is no more,” Kolya Mkrtchyan from Gyumri tells us. His thoughts, Facebook posts, the “wall” of the social network are about Vahe. Vahe’s pictures are everywhere. They merged, and Vahe’s face became Kolya’s face. Kolya tells:

“It was the wake of one of our army officers Vardges, nicknamed Vkul. We called him “Vkul” in the military unit. It was Vkul’s wake. They brought the body, we were at their house when our guys called and said, ‘Vahe is no more’.”

I asked about Vkul, Vardges Minasyan. Who was he, how was he, what kind of an officer was he?

“Vkul was from Gyumri. But he was more in Jabrayil than in Gyumri. He was the only officer whom everyone loved and respected, without exception. We know how his death happened. Heroism is what Vkul did. He took off his body armor and handed it to the soldiers, and at that moment, when a projectile exploded, he was fatally wounded by fractures. He was the platoon commander. “The guys were constantly posting pictures on Facebook, writing, and we, the demobilized, knew who was there and who was not,” Kolya recalls.

He has been collecting materials and poems about the killed servicemen since the April war. He puts all the materials, photos somewhere, in a small corner of the internet, and counts views and likes. “I decided to immortalize them that way.”

It is not possible to view the page created by Kolya without pain. All the photos show young people in military uniforms who became photographs. “Hayk, Mkho and Arthur were friends, in reality, they were 7 friends (four did not return, 3 are injured). Hayk (Rizhik) and Mkho became a living shield, saving the life of their other friend,” reads the picture above the two smiling boys.

The commander of the anti-tank battery, Captain Arsen Gabrielyan, is the next. He dismantled 12 enemy tanks and decided the outcome of a number of combat episodes in favor of our forces. During the four-day war too, Arsen had hit three tanks and had won the “For Courage” medal.

Arman Chagharyan is looking from the next picture, and we read his mother’s words about her son. “Grandma, my aunt has 4 diplomas at the age of 40, I have 3 at the age of 20. I will definitely have more before I become 40. So that you become more proud of me.”

Now the pride is boundless, hero boy…

“Mom dear, let me go and bring the children’s breakfast, then we will talk.” These were the last words of our bright Arman. What a generation we are losing!”

Kolya did not write about his friend Vahe in his virtual notebook. He cannot write yet; this is his personal, his cherished, closest friend… Kolya decides: later, later he will write and try to explain:

“You start to understand war when you lose your loved ones. Last time we talked for half an hour. He said he wanted to start a business, and planned to start that business with me. We wanted to trade! The idea was Vahe’s. He wanted to rent a place and start together with me. I said, ‘Of course, Vahe, if you are there, I will go into any business with you’.”

Why? “Military service is a place where a person cannot hide his negative traits. It is possible outside, but it is not possible in the service; it is a difficult life… it is just another life.”

He asks us to write the following lines about Vahe. “On January 9, 2019, he was drafted into the army. He entered the service in one of the southern military units of Artsakh, in Jebrail. For high progress, he was sent to Armenia for training, after which he received the rank of junior sergeant, returned to Jebrail, and joined the battalion on combat duty. During the combat duty he stood out with his military literacy and courage. For such positive qualities, six months later, Vahe was transferred to a training battalion to transfer his experience and knowledge to the recruits. He was killed on September 28, 2020, while suppressing the enemy’s attack in the direction of Jebrail.”

Syuzan Simonyan