A few years ago, an elderly man came to the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Ukraine. He introduced himself:
– Kozeruk Alexander Semenovich, a resident of Kiev, a front-line soldier. During the war, an officer from Turkmenistan, Oraz Hanmammedov, fought with me. He died in 1943, and for a long time I did not know where my friend was buried. Recently, I found his grave and now my soul is calm. Here are my memories of Oraz. I do not want his life to be forgotten.
And the visitor gave the envelope to the Embassy staff.
… A life of every person consists of meetings. People meet each other by amazing, incomprehensible, sometimes strange ways. Some meetings are quickly forgotten, leaving no noticeable trace in the soul, while others, even the shortest ones, are remembered forever.
The memory of the heart keeps them all. They are stored in the heart as long as it beats..
Could the boy from Ukraine, Sasha Kozeruk, imagine that in the distant Turkmenistan his peer, Oraz Hanmammedov, lives, and that someday their ways will be crossed.
Oraz also never thought this way, when he was going every day to the school to teach and explain the rules of grammar and arithmetic to the children.
In a certain period, their paths crossed. It crossed at a point that is not on geographical maps, but which became a gathering place and a starting point for them and for the millions of their peers, who the day before did not know anything about each other. War is this point.
The war split the fate of the guys into two unequal parts – “before” and “after”. Short years of untroubled childhood, sunny youth and barely begun of young ages, which promised to be so much interesting and joyful are “before” the war.
Long life is “after war” period. It would be much longer than the one before the war. Not a kind of trouble-free and unconcerned, but marked by deep scars and pain.
Wounds on the body can close up, while wounds in the soul never skin over.
Many guys will never see this “after war” life. And the unlived life of friends, those who left with you and never returned, makes the front-line soldiers live two lives – their own and the life of their deceased friend.
As more far from the war, as more often Alexander Semenovich recalled the faces and voices of friends — those who had fallen and those living. He met and kept in touch with fellow soldiers, and kept the memory of those who dead.
He especially remembered the modest, smiling, sober-minded guy from Turkmenistan, Oraz Hanmammedov.
He would be happy to receive a sign from friend, it was thought by Alexander Semenovich . But Oraz is long gone. He remained lying in the Ukrainian land, in my homeland.
Someday I will be burried in this land also. So, it turns out that we have never been separated, have become forever countrymen. However, in the distant and hot south Motherland country of Oraz, his relatives live and I have to tell them about his frontline fate. Moreover, not only them, but all his countrymen.
He took out a pen, paper and wrote down the first line:
“To the fraternal Turkmen people with wishes of good health, happiness and prosperity!”
“During the years of the Great Patriotic War,” Alexander Semenovich continued, “fate brought me to Guard Lieutenant Oraz Hanmammedov, Commander of the mortar platoon of the 1st Mortar Company of the 186th Guards Regiment, 62nd Rifle Division”.
It was in June 1943, when our troops faced fierce battles for a bridgehead on the right bank of the Svir Donets River, south of the town of Chuguyev, Kharkiv region. Much time has passed, but the image of Oraz Hanmammedov still stands before my eyes.
He was handsome. The inner world of this man was amazing in its broad world. I remembered him as a round-faced guy with brown eyes and a height above average. His eyes were full of kindness, and his smile as a magnet attracted everyone to him.
Oraz was disciplined, demanding and caring commander. The soldiers loved him. He loved songs and sang them with his special accent. He especially liked Ukrainian songs. At that time I served as the commander of the 1st artillery mortar company of the same regiment, and Oraz, addressing me, asked: “Commander, sing the Ukrainian song “Raspryagayte chloptsy koni … ”. And the song was heard over the trenches.
We went together along the roads of war. We forced together the Dnieper River in the area south of Kremenchug, and left the encirclement together. And then, again went to the front near the city of Cherkasy in November 1943.
It is impossible to state in the letter all the days of the war years: battles, fires, inhuman trials that fell on our shoulders. We knew the joy of victories and the bitterness of loss when our combat comrades died in battle. I don’t remember a single case when Guard Lieutenant Oraz Hanmammedov faltered in battle. He fought like the brave son of the Turkmen people.
Last time I saw him in the early morning of December 25, 1943, before the battle in the Belozersky forests, on the approaches to the town of Smila of Cherkasy region. On that day, the Germans launched a fierce attack against our battalion, which was abandoned to the rear of the enemy, in order to block enemy’s path to the highway and railroad going to Cherkasy.
The Germans attacked very hard the positions of the 1st mortar company. The battle, without stopping, lasted half a day. The company I commanded survived, did not flinch. The enemy has lost many soldiers and officers on the battlefield. They had to retreat.
In this battle, we also suffered great losses. I was badly wounded. Guard Lieutenant Oraz Hanmammedov took command over the company. The wounded were taken to the medical battalion, and then distributed to hospitals. So, we broke up with Oraz.
After treatment in the hospital, I returned to the same mortar compnay and learned that my front-line friend was dead. I fought until January 1945, until I was seriously wounded again. In the postwar period, I managed to find many of my comrades and to honor the memory of the victims.
It took a quite long time to find the burial ground of Oraz Hanmammedov. And only recently, I read his name and surname on the pedestal of the mass grave of the dead soldiers and commanders of the 186th Guards Regiment of the 62nd Rifle Division in the village of Belozerie, Cherkasy region, Cherkasy province of Ukraine
Deep bow to the glorious sons, defenders of the Motherland country, who gave the most precious things – their life for peace and prosperity on Earth. Oraz loved his homeland – Turkmenistan. He spoke a lot about the courageous, hardworking Turkmen people, their customs and traditions. With his stories, he sowed good seeds in our hearts.
With this letter-memory, I want to pay tribute to the Turkmen people and their glorious son, Oraz Hanmammedov, a courageous defender of the Fatherland.
Former commander of the 1st mortar company of the 186th Guards Regiment of the 62nd Rifle Division, friend of Oraz Hanmammedov.
Alexander Semenovich Kozeruk
…Memory. You can not cut out either the pain or grief that the war has brought. Let them remain only in the memory.
May this tragedy destroying fate never happen again.
Let people to be tied not by battlefields, but by common and sincere desire for mutual understanding, respect and trust.