By Hasmik Gyozalyan
“From the Trench to Eternity”: Captain Armenak Urfanyan
Eritasard.am continues to present its series of articles under the title “From the Trench to Eternity”. The articles are devoted to the lives and endeavors of servicemen who were killed while performing their official duties.
This time, the hero is Knight of the 1st Degree Combat Cross of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, commander of a company, Captain Armenak Urfanyan. Indeed, one of the most memorable episodes in the chronology of the military operations in April 2016 was the heroic endeavor of the personnel of military position #116 under the command of Captain Armenak Urfanyan.
On the crucial night, the commander was next to the border guards on the frontline. The enemy’s attack was powerful, and the personnel on the military position led an unwavering struggle.
Captain Urfanyan, the skillful and knowledgeable commander and proud officer, the fighter who was ready to put his life on the line for the impregnability of the military position and homeland security, met the military objective with dignity and died along with the soldiers.
“The two of us — Armenak and I — live in this house…”
It is unusually hot in this room. An invisible warmth radiates from the large photos placed next to each other, and then it expands and spreads throughout the house, the yard and everywhere…
There is a short-lived life in the room, and it seems that there must inevitably be continuity. It seems as though the heroic story known to me is a myth, the past 2 years have been erased from the calendar and that Captain Urfanyan has left for military service and will be back soon.
“The two of us — Armenak and I — live in this house,” says Armenak Urfanyan’s mother, Mrs. Hamest. Then, it looks like she remembers something and smiles, saying the following: “When he would enter the house, the walls would become lively, warm and would breathe. It was as if there were lights everywhere.”
The mother keeps silent. We keep silent. It seems as though if I turn around, I will see the triumphant captain in his military uniform who has come to live the life that was short-lived…
Armenak Urfanyan was born on January 28, 1990 in Yerevan. The newborn boy was the first child of the family, and the parents named him after Grandfather Armenak, who had participated in the Great Patriotic War.
The young son’s daughter, Edita often takes Mrs. Hamest back to the days of Armenak’s childhood. Edita reminds her a lot about Armenak. She is as active as Armenak, yet she is also modest and not a troublemaker, just like Armenak.
“Since childhood, my sons had an extremely strong bond with each other, just like twins. They went everywhere together. Like all children, my sons would also act mischievously sometimes and, as a rule, Armen was always the one who would take the initiative. He would guide his brother to fulfill the wish of the two, being rest assured that Franz is small and that the act would go unpunished. However, Armen would almost always get “punished” as “the organizer”. Outside the house, Armen would support and defend his brother. The older he got, the more he showed that personality trait,” says Mrs. Hamest.
There is no sport that Armen turned a cheek to. He was involved in basketball, swimming, taekwondo, judo and sambo…He started staying in shape when he was little, and he quickly started achieving success in sports.
Armenak’s grandfather dreamed that his first grandson would become a well-known football player, but Armenak had other dreams. His interest in military operations was clear to see when he was playing children’s games. Weapons, particularly swords were his favorite toys.
“He made the decision to pursue a military career when he was mature”
In 1992, the Urfanyans settled in the northern capital of the Russian Federation. However, being far from the homeland didn’t stand in the mother’s way of raising her sons with the spirit of patriotism. Mrs. Hamest would often tell her sons about the heroic episodes in the history of the Armenian people, as well as the great victories and famous warriors.
“When we were living in Saint Petersburg, we would often pass by Suvurov Military School, and every time, Armenak would look at the school building with interest. When he got a little older, he started asking about the building and then declared that he wanted to study there. He would ask questions about all the statues of famous people that we would see on the road. I felt that Armenak was obsessed with the military, and he was more than interested. There were no military servicemen in our family. The great Armenians of our family were builders. When Armenak finished his studies in the 9th grade, I asked him what he had decided to become and asked him if he wanted to become a builder. He thought for a while and said the following: “No, I want to become a military serviceman!” He made the decision to pursue a military career when he was mature,” Captain Urfanyan’s mother recalls.
“If you want to become a military serviceman, you will serve for your homeland…”
“When I was convinced that Armenak was more than certain about his decision, I told him that if he wanted to become a military serviceman, he had to become a military serviceman only in his homeland and that he would not stay abroad,” Mrs. Hamest added.
Armenak gladly returned to Armenia and, pursuing his dream, got accepted to the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia. After a while, his family also returned to Armenia.
The mother went on to say the following: “Armenak said he definitely wanted to serve on the frontline. He would always talk about that. After he graduated from Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense, he was recruited in Martakert. I can go on and on about Armenak’s life in the army. His fellow servicemen and other soldiers have told me how attentive and caring he was and that he was a serviceman who truly deserved to have the ranking of an officer. Armenak built his ties with soldiers on mutual respect and confidence. Sometimes I would ask him how he got along with soldiers who were different from each other. Later, I would understand that one had to listen to him when he was speaking. The soldiers would respect the words of their commander. My son was entirely devoted to military service. He would take pride in the fact that he was a serviceman and that he was wearing a military uniform. My Armenak was tall and portly. He was 1 meter and 90 centimeters tall. He looked so handsome when he would wear the uniform. It was as if it was sewn exactly for him.”
The last time…
The last time Armenak Urfanyan returned home was on March 27th, a couple of days before the military operations in April.
“He had only come for one day. It was Easter. We were going to go to his fiancé’s, Goharik’s house. They had so many dreams…” Mrs. Hamest is silent and can’t go on.
A day later, Armenak returned to his military position. The last time he called was on April 1st. He started his phone conversation with his mother with an April Fools’ joke and said the following: “Mom, your boy got involved in an “unusual incident”, they’re demobilizing me, I’m coming home.”
The war would break out in a matter of hours…
On the night of 1 April 2016, the peace was disturbed with a sudden war. Many died heroically. What happened at military position #116 of the Defense Army in the northeastern direction reminds one of an unreal story in a book. Despite the unequal conditions of the troops, Commander, Captain Armenak Urfanyan fought until the end and
did the impossible, preventing the enemy’s prospective goal and changing the course of events.
Time will pass, the episodes of the heroic battle of the soldiers of military position #116 will go down in history, and the names of Armenak, Robert, Andranik and Kyaram will stay in the hearts of the future generations.
“I am the son of the Armenian army…”
“One time, when my phone calls remained unanswered, I started getting worried, even though I always felt confident that nothing would happen to Armenak. After a while, he called me. When I told him that I had gotten very worried, he said the following: “I am no longer your son, I am the son of the Armenian army. You should not be worried,” the heroic captain’s mother recalls.
By an interesting coincidence, “the Son of the Army” was born on January 28th, Armenian army Day.