Fallen Hero

A Soldier’s Story
Written by Anita Dmytruk

This is not only the story of the life path of a fallen soldier from Ukraine, Vitalik Volodymyrovych Nezhinsky (Doc), but the story of two beloved people who met at the end of Vitalik’s life, fell in love with each other, fought and were together until Doc’s last breath.

“Someone has to do this work, and I am not at all surprised that that someone is me,” were the words that dear Doc wrote to his beloved a few months before the injury. “I always tried to live in the here and now, because I knew that one day it would end, and now I’m sure of it. I want to have time to do everything, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.”

Vitalik Nezhinsky was born in the city of Belz in Western Ukraine. His father was a soldier, and when Vitalik was five years old, he and his family moved to Crimea. As a child, Vitalik served in the temple, to which he voluntarily came and brought his parents. From a young age, he saw this world in a special way and always tried to do something good for everyone, everywhere.

At the age of 16, Nezhinsky, a native of Crimea, without informing anyone, went to Kyiv to the Maidan, where he took an active part. As a result, he was forced to leave Crimea and complete his studies at a medical college in the Lviv Region. He spent his summer vacation when he was 18 in the East defending his country from the enemy. He lived abroad for several years, and after a full-scale invasion, immediately returned to Ukraine and stood up to defend it. He served in the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade. He took part in the battle for Kyiv, the liberation of Kherson Oblast, in the battles on the Zaporizhia and Bakhmut fronts.

He was awarded the badge “For assistance in the defense of Kyiv,” and a series of honorary badges of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: “Steel Cross,” “Golden Cross,” “For Saved Life,” “For Wounds,” and “For Courage.”

He was seriously wounded on the outskirts of Bakhmut, and fought for his life for 103 days. On March 3, my heart stopped.

A person with an extremely kind heart and bright soul, Vitalik walked a difficult but very interesting path on this Earth. He lived, enjoyed, and rejoiced, even when it seemed that there was no longer a place for joy. His light always shone, and will always shine.

Vitalik and Anita loved each other so much.

The meeting of these two souls was not an accident; it was planned from their birth, soulmates who, in a short period of time, experienced the widest range of emotions that can possibly be felt on this Earth. In the Bible it is written: “God is love,” and God was with them. Is it fair that they spent so little time together? Unfortunately, it was not for them to decide. To receive such happiness, to feel such love and support from one another, is a great gift that is not given to everyone, and one for which they are grateful to the Almighty. Vitalik was not afraid to die, as he was afraid not to live. From their first meeting, they discussed and understood that life is a moment. And each of their moments was special.

They met on Rynok Square in Lviv, when he was passing through Lviv and walking with his sworn brother. Anita had also gone for a walk that evening with her friends, a date three weeks in the planning. The moment Anita and Vitalik’s eyes met, they realized that this was more than a chance meeting. The limited time they had in Lviv they spent together, looking into each other’s eyes for hours and seeing the boundless worlds within them. They say that to love is to see a person as God created them, and this is exactly how these two saw each other.

They soon had to go their separate ways and could communicate only in messages, and there was no less love in that than in the meetings in Lviv. Anita wrote a handwritten letter to Vitalik on his birthday and sent it to the front line, counting the days until he would be able to open it. He was delighted, his emotions and happiness were off the scale, and he answered her: “It is not usual for me to receive wonderful emotions, and here these emotions are an ocean. I don’t know who else has managed to describe me so openly, but you did. I would not have believed that in such a short period of time you could have managed to get to know me like that. It is very nice; it goes straight to the heart.” Anita was so happy at his response. They had known each other only a few months, but it felt like an eternity.

On November 21, Vitalik received very serious injuries while performing combat missions, and was taken to a hospital in Kyiv. As soon as Anita learned about it, she immediately went to see him. What followed was three months of hellish resuscitation, two weeks of which he was conscious for. Vitalik received an abdominal wound, an open leg fracture, a partial amputation of the right upper limb, and a fractured jaw. His own healthy skin was transplanted onto injured areas and, over three weeks, he survived 14 complex surgeries. Vitalik’s mother, who immediately came from the occupied Crimea, and Anita were always nearby. He was very happy that they were around, always saying that, “everything is fine, everything will be fine,” and always telling them how much he loved them.

It was a very difficult time for Vitalik as he went through hell on Earth, but until the end he was strong, indomitable, and reassuring to his relatives. Being himself in a very serious condition, having a phone holder near him, he wrote with one hand to the volunteers to convey what they needed for the military men who were lying with him in the intensive care unit, who were unconscious. Three weeks after his initial injuries and all the surgeries, he went into cardiac arrest for 23 minutes, but was successfully resuscitated. After that, he was under a medical coma and fought for his life for another two and a half months.

Anita and Vitalik’s mothers were nearby, supporting him and them both. They were sure that they would go through everything life had to bring together, no matter how difficult. After three months of intensive care, the feelings of fear, despair, worry, and powerlessness crept in amongst all the love, joy, and faith, and it was often scary to wake up, wondering what the news would be. Day after day passed. Anita and Vitalik’s mothers spent all their time in prayer together and near him, and they were sure, until the very last, that everything would be fine despite all the horror they witnessed every day in the military hospital. They cried together, they rejoiced together at small improvements, they became a family.

When Doc was conscious in the ICU, he asked Anita to be his wife and said that he really wanted a son. The two of them were sure that the best was yet to come—but the best was already lived. Ahead was only pain and bright memories. They knew that it was temporary here, that someday the end would come. Perhaps that is why every look, every touch, was piercing to the soul; they felt everything.

This story is about a strong warrior, about the incredible strength of a man who, from a young age, chose a difficult path, the path to voluntarily defend his country from the enemy. He cared about the future of his family; he cared about the future of the nation. He loved and he was loved very much.

After three months of hellish torment in the intensive care unit, Vitalik waited for the arrival of his beloved and in a few hours, holding hands, in love, went to eternity.

These are some of the terrible realities of today. Young people give their lives to protect their family, country, freedom, and future for their nation, and the best of them die in the thousands. It is simply impossible to describe the pain of this loss for women, children, and parents. Life seems to stop, and we have to learn to live in a new, different way. We live with the help and support of each other and our army, and we sincerely hope that soon we will be able to live in a free country, without worries, shots, and such great losses. The pain of those who lost loved ones in the war is a pain they will feel for the rest of their lives; it is a wound that will never heal. Strength is given only by God, shown in help given to the military and faith that we will win back our freedom and independence on all fronts. Strength is shown in the worthy examples of our fallen soldiers, the sons of Ukraine, who inspire with the strength of their own spirit!

As sworn brother and close friend, “Zub,” says of Vitalik:

“Friend Doc. He was a brave warrior, who, from the first days of the full-scale invasion, returned from Poland to defend his country. During our first acquaintance, I remembered this. He was always cheerful, brave, a true friend, even, I would say, a brother, with whom we could talk about everything in the world. I never doubted him; I knew that I could count on him at any moment, just as he could count on me. During such a short period, we became one family, and together we shared all that we had. Doc’s memory will live on forever—in the news, on billboards, in the gallery… and most importantly in our hearts. You know… it’s easier to live without light than without such loyal friends… A hero thrice. Glory. Glory. Glory.”

As Vitalik’s beloved, Anita, says of Doc:

“My Vitalik, my Doc, a part of my soul… I thank God that He gave me you. There is no point in asking why God took you; He has His own plans… With you, He gave me the feeling of crazy love. With you, He gave me strength. With you, He showed me the depth of the human soul, thanks to you. It is impossible to accept and understand the loss of Doc. Pain tears everything apart inside and time does not heal. But he and I believed that the soul is something more than just the physical body. And the belief that the soul of my loved one has passed a very worthy path on this Earth gives me strength and inspiration to walk my path with dignity!”

Vitalik Nezhinsky (Doc), he is a part of history. Starting from the Maidan, ending with a full-scale invasion. A man of incredible strength of spirit, wisdom and depth. The pride of the Ukrainian nation! Eternal Glory to the Hero of Ukraine and a special person!

Donations to Doc’s surviving family can be made here: https://send.monobank.ua



Up in Smoke

Read Our Current Issue


To Make a Northwest Passage

May 2024

From Here to There

April 2024

Peace of Mind

March 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles