Vitalii Skakun

Vitalii Volodymyrovych Skakun (Ukrainian: Віталій Володимирович Скакун; 19 August 1996 – 24 February 2022) was a Ukrainian marine combat engineer who was posthumously awarded the Order of the Gold Star. He sacrificed his life in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine while blowing up a bridge in Henichesk to slow the advance of Russian troops during the Kherson offensive.

Vitalii Skakun
Birth nameVitalii Volodymyrovych Skakun
Born(1996-08-19)19 August 1996
Berezhany, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine
Died24 February 2022(2022-02-24) (aged 25)
Henichesk, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine
AllegianceUkraine
Service/branchUkrainian Navy
Years of service2021–2022
RankSeaman
Unit35th Naval Infantry Brigade "Rear Admiral Mikhail Ostrogradsky", Ukrainian Naval Infantry
Battles/wars
AwardsOrder of the Gold Star (posthumously)
Alma materNational University Lviv Polytechnic
Children1

Early lifeEdit

Skakun was born on 19 August 1996 in Berezhany in western Ukraine.[1][2] He attended the No. 3 school in Berezhany, where his mother was a member of the teaching staff.[2] Later in Lviv, Skakun graduated from Higher Vocational School No. 20, where he studied to be a welder.[2] He graduated from Lviv Polytechnic.[1] In 2018, he lived for six months in Leszno, where he worked as a construction worker.[3]

Military careerEdit

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Skakun's battalion was deployed to protect the town of Henichesk, located near the Isthmus of Perekop.[4] As a Russian armored column approached the position, Ukrainian forces decided to destroy the Henichesk bridge, in order to impede the advance of Russian troops travelling northward from Crimea during the Kherson offensive. Skakun, a combat engineer, volunteered to place mines on the bridge.[5]

On 24 February 2022, after placing the explosives, Skakun did not have enough time to withdraw from the bridge and, after communicating his intentions to his fellow soldiers,[6] detonated the mines, killing himself and destroying the bridge. His actions slowed the Russian advance, allowing his battalion time to regroup.[7]

LegacyEdit

On 26 February 2022, Skakun was posthumously awarded the Order of the Gold Star, the military version of the title of Hero of Ukraine, by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.[1][6]

On 28 February 2022, the Czech representative of one of Prague's city districts, Libor Bezděk, proposed to rename a bridge in Korunovační Street, which is the address of the Russian embassy, to Vitalij Skakun bridge. The proposal was accepted by the district and was forwarded to Prague City Council.[8]

On 1 March 2022, the city council of Berezhany awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen of Berezhany" to Skakun.[9]

On 7 March 2022, he was granted honorary citizenship of Leszno.[10][11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Martyn, Iryna (26 February 2022). "Vitalii Skakun, who blew up the bridge in Henichesk at the cost of his own life, is a graduate of Lviv Polytechnic". Lviv Polytechnic Center for Communication. Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Belyakova, Irina (25 February 2022). "Віталік, дитино, як??? Що розповіли у Бережанах про Героя Віталія Скакуна, який підірвав міст разом із собою - 20 хвилин". te.20minut.ua (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  3. ^ Alex Webber (1 March 2022). "Ukrainian sapper who blew himself up to stop Russian tanks honoured by Leszno bikers after they reveal he had lived in the town and was a club member". The First News. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  4. ^ "Ukrainian serviceman Skakun blows up Henichesk bridge to stop advance of tank column". www.ukrinform.net. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  5. ^ Kiehart, Christopher Miller, Isobel Koshiw, Pete. "Stories Of Ukrainian Heroism Are Emerging And Giving The Country Hope". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  6. ^ a b Jackson, Jon (25 February 2022). ""Heroic" Ukrainian soldier blows up bridge, himself to halt Russia advances". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  7. ^ Sheets, Megan (25 February 2022). "Ukrainian soldier blew himself up on bridge to block advancement of Russian tanks". The Independent. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  8. ^ ""Ukrajinských hrdinů". Přejmenujme ulici u ruské ambasády, navrhuje radnice Prahy 6 | Aktuálně.cz". Aktuálně.cz - Víte, co se právě děje (in Czech). 28 February 2022. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  9. ^ Decision of the Brzezany City Council "On conferring the title of "Honorary Citizen of Berezany".
  10. ^ "Polish city grants honorary citizenship to Ukrainian war hero". Polska Agencja Prasowa SA. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Uchwała nr L/646/2022". Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej Urzędu Miasta Leszna (in Polish). 7 March 2022. Retrieved 28 October 2022.