Who could have thought that Stanislav Stovban, a young man from Kalush, a Prykarpattia town, would read «A tale about a real person» by Borys Polioviy in one breath. People of older generation know this dramatic and at the same time optimistic story of a pilot Oleksiy Maresiev. During the Soviet-German war, his plane was downed. The pilot was crawling in a snowed up forest for several days to reach his comrades. Because of frostbite, he had his both legs amputated. However, Oleksiy Maresiev not only learned to dance on his artificial limbs, he also started to pilot a war plane...
Stanislav Stovban, a commando-machine gunner, chevalier of Bohdan Khmelnytsky order, has a similar but different story. On the day when separatists blew Donetsk airport terminal, when Ukrainian cyborgs moved from storey to storey, a slab of the floor broke this young man’s ribs and smashed his both legs. One leg was put together by surgeons, but the other one had to be amputated because major artery was damaged. When the commando recovered from the serious wound, some doctor brought him the book «A tale about a real person». They tried to make him understand that even without legs you can have a productive life.
The tale about this real person, which hasn’t been written yet, has an interesting pre-war beginning. I managed to talk to the commando, when he came to the Institute of Geodesy of Lviv Polytechnic from his military base to take certain exams and tests individually. Earlier Stanislav was a full-time student, and he could continue studying that way…
However, let’s listen to Stanislav himself:
– I have to admit that geodesy has been the dream of my life. Since childhood, I have always wanted to become a military man. I tried to enter the Academy of Land Forces, but I failed because of tough competition. I chose the Institute of Geodesy probably because geodesists can navigate the terrain well. It is very important for the military. By the way, I made use of my knowledge of optical devices and skills to work with a map in the army. I studied two and a half years and then I took a sabbatical leave to serve in the army.
– You did it voluntarily? What did your friends say? So many students dream of «shying away’ from the army. And how did your parents take it?
– They were shocked. I am their only son. But my decision was adamant. I understood that military career has to begin from serving as a private. I served in Starychi, in Yavoriv training ground. I taught students of our Academy how to drive an airborne assault vehicle. After I was demobbed, I was looking for a job for several months. Finally I renewed my studies in the Institute of Geodesy but as an extramural student. And there began Russian aggression in Donbas.
– Were you drafted?
– No, I wasn’t. I didn’t wait for my mobilization wave. I came to the military registration and enlistment office myself. I was given two days to say good-bye to my parents. I was directed to the same Yavoriv training ground to the third battalion of the 80th separate assault landing brigade. After combat co-ordination, we arrived in Kostiantynivka, which is 68 km from Donetsk. There we had our dislocation point. In December, serious fighting began in the zone of Donetsk airport. This zone included the airport itself, Vodiane, Opytne, Pisky… The heaviest fighting was in the airport terminal on January 20, 2015. My machine gun worked non-stop for 8 hours. Because of overheating, three machine gun barrels burned. You have already said about my wounded legs…
– I know that after completing your treatment and prosthetic care, you continued service. When I was telling your story to my colleagues reporters, they doubted, «How could they take a man with an amputated led back to the army? There should be some military medical commissions…».
– I avoided this problem because I did not terminate my service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so I did not have to be examined by the medical commission. Actually a lot depends on the unit commander. He files a report to senior commanders that he needs a certain soldier for a certain position, and, as a rule, he receives a positive answer. I continued my service according to the contract «until the end of the special period».
– I know that you spend a year in the zone of military operations with an amputated leg. Couldn’t you ask to be transferred somewhere farther from the front line?
– I couldn’t! On the contrary, I asked to be sent to the zone of military operations. There were certain obstacles but I managed to overcome them. Right now I am serving in Zhytomyr as sergeant major of a squadron where commandos are trained. Apart from my primary responsibilities, I am teaching young soldiers how to shoot from all kinds of small arms.
– I have heard a lot of complaints that our soldiers are badly fed…
– It depends on the commanders. In the places I served, food was always adequate.
– What is your attitude to alcohol? It is no secret that some people in the army have alcohol problems…
– It is to put it mildly. People drink a lot… As for me, I do not drink any alcohol on principle. I don’t even drink beer or champagne on New Year’s Eve. However, to tell the truth, I smoked for a long time, but 18 months ago I gave it up.
– To tell you the truth, Stanislav, I thought that lecturers in your institute knowing your story put you good marks automatically. You just need to come in person. But Associate Professor Bohdan Palianytsia, Dean of the institute, proved me wrong.
– I complete the curriculum. I take everything seriously. You can’t have too much knowledge.
– What do you see in your future?
– On receiving my Bachelor’s degree, I will be able to take a crash course to obtain an officer rank in Odesa Military Academy at the faculty of high mobility paratrooper experts training.
– But paratroopers mean that you have to jump with a parachute? It is difficult to imagine how you can possibly land on the artificial limb…
– I already have 5 parachute jumps. However, I made them before my leg was amputated. But I will have my first jump with the artificial limb in April. I already have permission. I had such artificial limb, which can minimize the chances of trauma while I am jumping, made in Kyiv. I have to say that in the advanced armies of the world, there are programs for adapting disabled soldiers to military service. There are examples, when soldiers with both artificial arms become good snipers, for instance in the USA.
– A lot of former soldiers that served in ATO became involved in politics, became people’s deputies. You can have the same chance…
– God forbid! I am not attracted to politics at all. We know how people trust politicians. Everyone has to do their job, which they know and love. It may sound too grand but there is such saying, «There is such profession to defend your Motherland…».