World War II veteran Ivan Zaluzhnyi, born in 1918, dreamed of celebrating 70 years of the Great Victory with his grandson in 2015. Those dreams were not destined to come true: his 23-y.o. grandson died defending his homeland from Russian aggression.
A video where Ivan Zaluzhnyi tells about his grandson’s decision to go to war was created at the initiative of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance. Filmmaker: Oles Sanin whose films Mamaj (2003) and The Guide (2014) were nominated for Oscars.
A volunteer from Zaporizhzhia published a request on Facebook to support Ivan Zaluzhnyi who lost his grandson to the war in the Donbas:
“Dear Friends! A World War II veteran, with whom I happen to be acquainted, will turn 97 on 10 May . He lost his only grandson Ivan Zaluzhnyi in August 2014. Please send him a postcard wherever you are. He needs our words of comfort and gratitude. This is his first birthday in many years without his grandson Ivan.”
Ivan Zaluzhnyi was born in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in 1918. He was called up to the Red Army back in 1938 and served in the naval infantry. He went through the whole war and thereafter participated in the Japanese campaign. He obtained captain I rank and was awarded, among others, the Order of the Red Banner for combat heroism in the battle to take over the Japanese garrison in Korea.
After his grandson was killed in August 2014, Ivan Zaluzhnyi addressed Putin and his fellow veterans, exposing Russia’s role in the war in Ukraine:
Ivan Gutnyk-Zaluzhnyi, 23 y.o., was a platoon commander in the National Guard and was killed during shelling of a security road block near Amvrosiivka, Donetsk oblast. The medics could not save him as the bullets had pierced his body armour and entered his neck and back.
“He was the youngest among us, but we respected him for being the man and the leader he was,” says Deputy Commander Viktor Bohomaz. “At the cost of his own life he saved others.”
Ivan Zaluzhnyi junior was the only son of his mother, who worked in Afghanistan back in the 1980s reconstructing the country’s infrastructure. According to her, upon the receipt of the calling up notice in April 2014 Ivan postponed his wedding planned for 7 June.
“We had almost everything ready for the celebration: the wedding dress bought, prepayment for the banquet already deposited. Except we never sent out the wedding invitations,” says the mother. “But when Ivan was called up, he told me: ”Mom, how could we possibly have a wedding when there is war going on?”