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Military volunteer who lost both legs tells about fighting at frontline

14 March, 2023 Tuesday
19:15

On March 14, Ukraine celebrates Volunteer Day. These people were among the first to defend the country back in 2014, doing so at the call of their hearts

Espreso TV spoke to Roman Hrymaylo, a 26-year-old volunteer from Volyn, who lost both his legs last year due to severe injuries in combat. 

The man's decision to become a volunteer was a well-considered and unwavering one. By the way, the defender did not know about his holiday before. 

Before the full-scale invasion, Roman Hrymaylo lived and worked in neighboring Poland. He learned about the full-scale war from a friend who phoned him. Since February 24, he had been thinking about what to do, and in April he joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"On February 24, my friend woke me up and told me that I would not be able to go on vacation to Ukraine because the war had started. I turned on the news and saw these terrible bloody battles. I thought a lot about what to do. But my choice was made because of my family. And in general, I am a Ukrainian, so I had only one option – to go and defend my country and my family," Roman Hrymaylo admits.

He says that his family did not approve of his decision to volunteer for the war. His mother was the one who was most worried, as he is her only son.

"If I decided to go, I said I would not back down. By the way, my friends also discouraged me, but I think it was the right decision," the soldier is convinced.

"Shrapnel, wood, brass – everything was flying in my direction"

Roman Hrymaylo did not serve in the army, nor in the Anti-terrorist operation zone in eastern Ukraine. After arriving in Ukraine, he was sent to train in the UK. He spent 21 days there, then another 10 in Ukraine. And then there was the Donetsk region...

"We held the defense in Avdiivka. At first, there were no heavy battles, but later the enemy artillery started working. They fired hard. It is difficult to stand against artillery. But we stood and held the defense. Fortunately, there were no casualties, though there were many wounded. I was wounded during one of these assaults. It happened on September 9 at 9 am. We were hiding in a trench, but between the shelling we got up to report on the situation. I just stood up, reported, and half a meter away from me there was a hit," the defender recalls.

At that moment, he could not feel his legs, but he realized that he had to call for help on the radio. 

"Shrapnel, wood, brass – everything was flying in my direction and those things broke my legs. The first thing I did was to start digging out and crawling away to radio that we needed evacuation and medics. The guys who were with me pulled me out, put up the turnstiles, took me out of the position and put me on a stretcher to the car. Even then I could not feel my legs, and I could not move them either," says Roman Hrymaylo.

"I want to continue serving"

Roman underwent surgery in the Donetsk region, then was sent to Dnipro, and after a while to Vinnytsia. There he underwent treatment and rehabilitation. He has already tried to walk on prostheses.

"The prostheses were made at the end of December, but I still need to get used to them. At first, I walked with two crutches, now with one. It's easier to walk on a flat surface, but it's harder on the street," Roman adds. He says it is good that despite the amputation of his legs, he still has his knees.

In addition, Roman is waiting for another ear surgery. As a result of a strong explosion, his eardrums were torn. One ear has healed, but the other needs plastic surgery. 

"We had tasks and we fulfilled them. We had to do everything we could to prevent the Ruscists from advancing. We have a little less artillery, so it's harder. If we had fire support, we would have coped with everything. Our artillery was needed in other areas, more critical. First of all, it is needed where there is an offensive underway. But we withstood and held on. My guys have everything under control," he says.

Nowadays, Roman is getting help from his girlfriend, parents and friends to overcome the pain and all the difficulties. He is always thinking about his brothers in arms who continue to defend Ukraine from the Russian invasion. 

"The war drags on and does not let go. Friendship at the frontline is completely different than in civilian life. And I want to pass on my experience to the new people who come. I probably won't be deployed to the frontline, but maybe I can be an instructor. I want to continue serving," the soldier explained.

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