The first bloody years of the war, when regular army units fought alongside volunteer battalions, were a challenge for Ukrainian army commanders. Petro, aka “Starshyna”, as he was respectfully called by his comrades, was able to keep his men in line in that whirlwind of different personalities. He never lost his sense of justice and order, always providing assistance and understanding to his comrades-in-arms and young recruits.
Petro was killed in heavy enemy shelling near Stary Aidar, Luhansk Oblast on December 22, 2017. He left behind his grieving mother, wife, daughter, sister and 3 brothers.
Petro was laid to rest in his native village on December 25, 2017. A memorial plaque was inaugurated in Holohory Secondary School, which Petro attended as a youngster.
Petro’s younger brother, Bohdan also served in the war zone in 2014-2015.
Petro Mykhayliuk, soldier, father, brother, son and patriot
I never had the chance to meet up with Petro, as we missed each other every time he was on leave. Naturally, he had his family to visit – his daughter, mother, sister and brothers… We communicated mostly by phone. I forwarded some funds for his daily needs on the front lines… and our distant relationship continued to flourish.
Petro’s first phone call came in early 2015, when he called me to express his gratitude to the League of Ukrainian Women of Canada for their assistance and support of his battalion. Although I’m not a member of this organization, I felt that I had to respond to Petro and ensure him of my personal support.
I didn’t call Petro very often as I knew his unit was deployed on the front lines. However, he called me whenever he was free to talk and we spoke about many things, including the war, Ukraine’s future, his vision, daily life on the front lines, etc. Petro never asked me for help; in fact, he refused, saying that his battalion was well provided for and had everything they needed.
I learned of Petro’s death on December 23, 2017…. while getting ready for Christmas celebrations with my family. I wept… tears rolled down my cheeks; hot anger gripped my heart, steel blades of hatred pierced every corner of my body…. Christmas came and went, in a fog of sadness and extreme bitterness.
Petro was a good man and a great patriot, who was taken from his friends and family by this damned war. We never met, but I will never forget him… And this is true for all the other brave Ukrainian men and women that I have known.
When I told Petro: “Wipe those mos**** off the face of the earth!”… I could almost hear him smiling over the phone as he answered: ”You’re damn right! It can’t be any other way!”
Such was Petro Mykhayliuk. And so he will remain forever in my heart…
Герої не вмирають! Heroes Never Die!
Poems for Petro
Наша родина є дуже велика,
І кожен частинку свою би віддав,
Якби це у світі чудеса такі були,
І братик наш з могили б встав.
У житті ти був хорошим –
Батьком, братом, сином теж.
Тобі ще жити, тільки жити й жити,
І смутку нашому не має меж.
Скільки треба крові ще,
Скільки буде вдов і сиріт,
І будуть питатися діти Мама, а татко наш де
Благають вас сирітки всі.
Сонечка хочуть діти і ясного неба,
А не як ви – війни!
Петя, Петрику, Петрусю,
Душа кричить, тебе нема,
Подзвони до нас і відзовися,
Але в душі лише журба.
Цвіте калина при дорозі,
Це символ української землі,
Лиш на могилі чорнобривці,
Які в житті ти так любив.
We are a large family,
And each one of us would give a small part of himself,
If, by some unexpected miracle,
Our brother could rise from the dead.
You were a good man –
A father, a brother and a son…
You were meant to live, to live, and to live even longer,
And our sorrow knows no bounds.
I address our leaders – Come to your senses!
How much more blood will be spilled?
How many more widows and orphans?
How many more children crying for their fathers?
I address our leaders – Stop, I say!
Our orphans beg you on their knees.
Our children search for the sun and the bright blue sky,
And not this damn cruel and senseless war!
Petya, Petryk, Petrus!
My heart cries out, but you are gone!
Call us soon and answer our prayers.
But the grief lies so heavy in my heart.
A guelder rose blooms by the roadside,
A lovely symbol of our land – Ukraine.
But on your grave are marigolds,
Which you loved so much in life.
Ця триклята війна
Мені брата забрала,
І по всій Україні
Я така не одна.
Ще зовсім юні хлопці,
Які хотіли жити,
Вони за Україну
На сході полягли.
Щоб спалося нам удома,
Спокійно, і зі снами
Вони вночі не спали,
І сон наш берегли.
Нас є вже так багато,
І мам, і вдов, і сиріт,
І місця вже немає
Для виплаканих сліз.
Героїв наших славних,
Які за Україну
На сході полягли.
І тільки гасло лунає –
“Герої не вмирають!”
І будем пам’ятати
І сон їх берегти.
This cursed war
Has taken my brother,
And so many others all over Ukraine.
I am not alone.
These young men
Wanted to live,
But, they laid down their lives
In the eastern lands of Ukraine,
So that we could sleep in peace,
Rest and dream quietly,
But they could sleep neither day nor night,
Protecting our dreams and our tranquility.
There are so many of us here
Mothers, widows and orphans,
And there is no more room
For our grief and our tears.
Their memory is with us,
Our glorious heroes,
Who laid down their lives
For our land, our Ukraine.
Only the slogan remains –
“Heroes never die!”
But, we will remember them all,
As we watch over their peaceful sleep.