• uk
  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Khrystyna Chumachenko

    Khrystyna Chumachenko: “He directed the plane away from the village and saved hundreds of lives”


    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Svitlana Urbanska

    29 May 2022

    26-year-old Dmytro Chumachenko defended the country in the sky. He was the commander of the aviation branch of the Sevastopol Brigade of Tactical Aviation. He died on March, 23 in an air battle, directing the aircraft away from homes. His wife, Khrystyna Chumachenko, became a widow at the age of 23.

    Pilot on MIG-29 is shot down

    On February, 23 we saw each other before the war, and on February, 27 we saw each other for the last time. I drove up to the airfield with an acquaintance to pass on the treats. She also took Dima’s wedding ring because he had forgotten it at home. There was lots of tears. I wanted to say so much to him. He dreamed that one day we would have a child.

    And he loved flying insanely. He said the pilot should be learning for all his life.

    “One of our first dates comes to mind when Dima said that he was a pilot and that the military was preparing for war”.

    Then we talked about death and he said, “You have to be ready for anything. If something happens to me, you have to live on.”

    Dmytro Chumachenko and his wife Khrystyna

    Dmytro Chumachenko and his wife Khrystyna

    He would get in touch when he had the chance. There were moments when I saw in the news where there was an escalation and I realized that my husband might be there. Waiting period. Waiting for at least one message. It was scary and eventually he was still in touch. The last message he sent was on March, 23. Short one: “Busy”. Somehow, that evening, I thought of ejection. And then there was a message from a friend (she is also the wife of a serviceman): “A pilot was shot down on the MIG-29”.

    His colleagues have arrived. I understood everything without words

    I stayed up all night and wrote to everyone I could. Crying, praying. I was told that they were looking for him and combing through the territory. And then at about 10 o’clock, a car drove up to my house. His colleagues came out with their eyes down. I asked not to tell me anything, but I knew I had to hear it.

    They asked where we were going to bury him? Frankly, it was exactly the kind of decision I would’ve never wanted to make. People wrote to me that Dmytro’s plane flew right over their homes, it directed it away from the village. He didn’t manage to survive, but saved hundreds of lives.

    A black hole forms where happiness used to live

    I don’t know if the word “pain” can describe what is going on in the soul of the person who has lost the most precious.

    This state cannot be described in words.

    “The moment you find out about the loss, you’re stuck in some terrible cold. Your whole body. Every nook and cranny. Then you don’t understand anything at all. You just walk around and say to yourself, “Everything will be fine.” But you don’t know when it will be “fine”…”

    After that — as if on an elevator, an empty space descends. A black hole forms where happiness used to live. And that happiness had a name. You realize it may not have happened, but you’re powerless. You can’t change anything, although this is the case when you are ready to do everything. It’s scary. A lot.

    After a while, with a certain regularity, the dagger of memories will pierce your heart. Sometimes these memories will leave wounds, and then they will heal them. You just live, and you don’t know when they’ll break in again. You love and hate at the same time. They are so warm, soulful, but traumatic… and you learn to live with them.

    Pilot on the MiG-29

    Dmytro Chumachenko, a pilot on the MiG-29, is now deceased

    And this is the next stage. To learn. You’re not starting your life over. You have to live despite it. That’s what you do. Sometimes you are smiling. You go outside and see the sky, every cloud, hear the birds singing. You feel it twice as much. Values change, as much as you change with them. You become stronger, wiser, more confident, more goal-oriented.

    You start to get distracted: reading, chatting with friends, cooking, buying a shower gel with your favorite aroma. It revives you. It shows that nevertheless… there is something for what we should live… and this “for what” for everyone is different. Like “pain” if it’s really called “pain”.

    Pleasant memories

    When we met Dima, he reminded me of the guy from the movie Peaky Blinders. He was a real gentleman: he gave me his hand when I got out of the car or stepped over the puddle.

    My husband loved rock music, sci-fi films, and books about financial literacy. He knew how to cook meat deliciously, and when he did, he listened to the classics. He was childishly happy when he bought the motorcycle he wanted. And dreamed that we would have a child one day.

    “We were a perfect couple: I was emotional, and he was skillfully smoothing out sharp corners. When I was angry, I had to be alone for a while. We would never fight for a long time, because he said that a person who didn’t recognize their own mistakes wouldn’t be able to learn from them”.

    I am proud that on December 15, 2018, life brought me together with you. I’m proud of being your wife. I am proud that you didn’t hesitate and performed an act that is known and will be known about. Heroes never die.

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation: Svitlana Urbanska


      Розкажи свою історію

      Ваша історія — особлива. Нехай світ її почує!

        Tell your story

        Your story is special. Let the world hear her!