Pride Amid Grief: Armenians bid farewell to fallen heroes of Karabakh battles

As the bodies of Armenian soldiers killed in the latest hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh are being committed to the ground many describe their heroic deaths as the continuation of the heroism of their fathers and grandfathers, who proved to the world 20 years ago, in the war for Artsakh’s liberation, that the heart and spirit of Armenians are unconquerable.

The deeds of heroes of our time have admittedly amazed the entire society during the past few days. Memorial services and funeral ceremonies for perished soldiers are carried out in towns and villages across Armenia.

Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesperson for the defense minister, below a comment “We feel sad but also proud” on his Facebook account regularly publishes the names of heroes fallen during the latest battles.

“Armenak Urfanyan, the 26-year-old captain of the 4th artillery company, with his subordinates, entered into a long combat with the enemy. Under pressure of the prevailing number of the enemy soldiers the officer sent his subordinates back and continued the fight alone eliminating one enemy tank and about a dozen soldiers. In the end, throwing several grenades at the enemy not letting Azeri soldiers approach him, Urfanyan used his last hand-grenade to blow himself and the adversaries who had approached him. Glory to our heroes,” wrote Hovhannisyan.

Meruzhan Stepanyan, a 23-year-old senior lieutenant from Gyumri, perished defending the homeland in the northeastern Karabakh village of Talish. He was transported in critical condition to the Central Clinical Military Hospital in Yerevan, where he died.

Hovik Mailyan, a 38-year-old tank man from the city of Hadrut, in Nagorno-Karabakh, was a father of three children. Kyaram Sloyan, a 20-year-old ethnic Yezidi machine gunner, was from village of Artashavan in the Aragatsotn province of Armenia; 27-year-old Junior Sergeant Vrezh Sargsyan was from the Pokr Masrik village, in the Gegharkunik province; 31-year-old soldier Harutyun Abrahamyan was from the Areguni village of the same province; 31-year-old major Hayk Torosyan was a chief of a rocket artillery unit; 23-year-old junior sergeant Ruben Iskandaryan was from Yerevan. Yuri Paramazyan, a 53-year-old commander sergeant, was from the Martuni province. Nodarik Margaryan, a deliverer-driver at the material security company, was a father of four children from the Martuni province. Sasun Mkrtchyan, was a 27-year-old machine-gunner from Yerevan.

Users of social networks write: “We feel sorrow, and express our gratitude to heroes”. They call for everything to be done for their families, and to stand for their children.

Aram Manukyan, the secretary of the opposition Armenian National Congress parliamentary faction said: “The grief of parents and relatives of those killed in Artsakh are inconsolable and boundless.”

“I want to express our condolences to the parents and relatives of our heroes. They need our help. The victims are our heroes.

They have defended our independence. Let them [parents and relatives], while feeling grief, also be filled with pride, as every holy martyr is a pride of the nation,” Manukyan said.

During these days videos have been disseminated on social media showing Armenian soldiers in combat operations in the frontlines. Conscript Narek Malkhasyan, who is now in hospital after receiving an injury, managed to shoot down a helicopter with a grenade-launcher, which military experts say is an exceptional feat.

“I heard the helicopter’s sound and rushed to take the weapon, it was at a distance of 40-50 meters from the position. Then I immediately shot,” the young man told media.

Samvel Ordubekyan, a father of seven who left for the frontlines to help regular troops, said on Artsakh Public TV that he came to Karabakh to stand next to his son as well as all other children there.

“I am just back from the post, all guys there are lions, they have a high fighting spirit and morale,” Ordubekyan said.