A Salute to a Hero of Russia: Lt. Alexander Prokhorenko

Surrounded by ISIS, Prokhorenko ordered an airstrike on his own position and was posthumously awarded Russia's highest medal for valor: 'Hero of the Russian Federation'. Not that you'd know about it from western media...

Fri, May 6, 2016
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The morning air in the desert surrounding Palmyra was still crisp and cool on the morning of March 16th, 2016. For those familiar, cool equals chilling in such arid places, before the sun rises high to bake the Earth like a layer cake. This is how it must have been as Russian special forces lieutenant, Alexander Prokhorenko’s lived his final day on Earth. Alone with his thoughts, staring out over that ancient landscape, those of us left can wonder at the kind of courage it takes for a man to stand naked against raw terror. This is my pitiful attempt to honor this man. 

Palmyra dawn

Alexander Prokhorenko was truly a Hero of Russia, and a hero of all those who fight for decency and peace. Russian President Vladimir Putin having posthumously awarded him Russia’s highest military honor, it is for the rest of the world to acknowledge not only this solider’s life and sacrifice by a commitment against terror. Prokhorenko’s story is epic in its symbolism, Homeric at the core, a story as old as time, and a gift of today actually. A simple man, from a village deep in the heart of Russia, emerges a hero for serving us all. 

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With Syrian Army forced just a scant 4 kilometers from the ancient ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO treasure ISIL desecrated on YouTube, and transformed into a stronghold of terror before the world. Prokhorenko’s mission in Palmyra is one we have all been made familiar with, from the movies mostly, hence Lt. Prokhorenko’s nickname now, the “Russian Rambo”. In order for Syria forces to retake this ancient city, precise air support would be critical, and it was Alex’s job to call in those strikes. The accounts of his actions are now well documented, with the exception of any mention in most mainstream western media, that is. That morning in Palmyra one of Russia’s best and brightest surely must have known, the dread danger surrounding him. A devoted husband and father to be, stamped his name alongside immortals. Here is a part of Lt. Prokhorenko’s last communication with his superiors prior to his death:

Lt. Prokhorenko: They are outside, conduct the airstrike now please hurry, this is the end, tell my family I love them and that I died fighting for my motherland.

Commander: Negative return to the green line

Lt. Prokhorenko: I cant command, I am surrounded, they are outside, I don’t want them to take me and parade me, conduct the airstrike, they will make a mockery of me and this uniform. I want to die with dignity and take all these bastards with me. please my last wish, conduct the airstrike, they will kill me either way.

Commander: Please confirm your request

Lt. Prokhorenko: They are outside, this is the end commander, thank you, tell my family and my country I love them. Tell them I was brave and I fought until I could no longer. Please take care of my family, avenge my death, good bye sir, tell my family I love them……………….

I imagine Prokhorenko crouched behind cover, his weapon empty, and the chatter of weapons firing all around, then hearing the sound of a pair SU 34 Fullback bombers overhead. Maybe he whispered a last prayer for his wife and unborn son, before being engulf in a cleansing flame, taking the scum of our planet with him to eternity’s deliberations.

All over the web people who hear about him say their piece, even though BBC and the American press haven’t the decency to tell his tale. A Russian gives up a family and everything to rid us of an accursed enemy, and America’s leadership hasn’t the fortitude to even speak of it. But that’s a sad story of another kind of terror, I am here to salute a hero for us all, and I am not alone.

News reached me yesterday that a French couple had sent Alex’s wife, Ekaterina their medals from World War II, along with a letter of thanks. The Magué family told Sputnik that Alex had reminded them of their own son. The elderly couple thanked Russia for heroes like Alex, and sent his wife the  Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur (“The Legion of Honor”), the highest French order for military and civil merits first established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte himself, and the World War II era Croix de Guerre (“The Cross of War”) with a bronze ribbon. They also took note of the fact no major French media had covered the Russian soldier’s sacrifice.

The medals were won by their own family members who faught Nazi soldiers during World War II, which was a poignant reminder of the upcoming May 9th celebrations in Moscow. Interestingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on hearing of their thanks, sent the French couple a personal invitation to Moscow for the coming celebrations. All I can think of to add, is how Prokhorenko honored his country, himself, his family, and the scores of others who have fought tyranny. And too, how proud his unborn child will be one day, to know this hero of Russia. 

Even if American media cannot afford for a Russian to be the hero of Palmyra, even if our president wants to take credit for the deeds of others, the web now depends on us. Obama nor the Queen Mother herself can control, what we know and tell the world. From Rome, where a portrait of Alex was paraded through the streets, to here in Germany in the village where we live, somehow people have come to know of his heroism. 

Rome honored the memory of the Russian officer Alexander Prokhorenko

I leave you with just a few of the “tweets” about Aleksandr #Prochorenko, and a wonderful look at what he sacrificed. There are millions of mentions of this hero on social media, he did not need the New York Times. 

Here’s the magnificent wedding he and his wife Ekaterina shared. May God bless and keep the valiant, and their beloved.

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