This week many Kharkivites have commemorated three years since the tragedy happened on June 14, 2014, near Luhansk.
At about 1 a.m. that day the pro-Russian gunmen attacked the IL-76 military aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force with a surface-to-air missile. The plane was shot down when landing at Luhansk International Airport. 40 paratroopers of the 25th Separate Airborne Brigade together with the crew of 9 were on board, all 49 people died.
That was the tenth deadliest air crash in Ukraine and the worst loss by the Ukrainian military since the beginning of the Russian aggression in February 2014.
One of the paratroopers was 22-year-old Serhiy Honcharenko from Izium town, Kharkiv region, who should turn twenty-three on July 16, 2014. Kharkiv Observer met with the warrior’s father Valery, a musician.
Valery claims Serhiy decided to be a professional soldier in 2011. After two years of compulsory military service Serhiy liked the Army values and friendship and decided to join it, his father supported his decision. So Serhiy entered Kharkiv Military Air Academy and studied for 1.5 years before joining 25th Separate Dnipropetrovsk Airborne Brigade still being a student.
“He was scared of flying and heights, and I think he also wanted to become a paratrooper to overcome this fear”, says Valery Honcharenko. “Once, when he was 15, we came to an amusement park, and I persuaded him to take a steep ride which was a challenge for him. When he became a professional trooper and made nine parachute jumps, he confessed the first one was a real ordeal. I was so proud of his achievements”.
Also, Serhiy had a fiancée and was going to get married soon. He discussed the wedding ceremony with his father. However, the Russian missile made that impossible.
Serhiy Honcharenko, the fire team leader of the 25th Airborne Brigade, was awarded posthumously with Order for Courage 2 Class in July 2014.
Izium city council renamed a street after Serhiy Honcharenko in his hometown in 2015. Also, a memorial plaque was installed on the city school No. 1, from which Serhiy graduated.
In 2016 the Breathe documentary about the IL-76 air crash was made. It featured interviews with the fallen paratroopers’ families. The film soundtrack was written by TaRUTA band.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Kharkiv Memorial