Three days ago, 34-year-old Olha shared her impressions on Facebook of a two-month experience driving on the frontline. Two days ago, she shared a post about a fallen hero. And yesterday, she joined the pantheon of departed Ukrainian heroes, having died while fighting for Ukraine somewhere in its Wild Fields.
Sergeant Olha Simonova, infantry fighting vehicle commander in the King Danylo 24th Mechanized Brigade. Five years ago, she became the first foreigner who was granted Ukrainian citizenship while serving under a contract in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In an interview on the day she received her Ukrainian passport, Olha was asked about her plans for the future. Her answer was, “As the war is going on, I can’t say anything. We must fight to our victory. Any truce is not our way. Our way is only to victory. And until we win, I can’t say anything, because making plans in a war is useless, because every day can be the last.”
“To me, she was a symbol of Ukrainianness of the future, Ukrainianness, which is accepted with one’s whole heart. She proved that a true Ukrainian is what you have become rather than what you have been born,” said Gennadiy Druzenko, the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital (PFVMH) leader, who had done a lot to help Olha break through the red tape and obtain Ukrainian citizenship.
Behind the Urals in Chelyabinsk, 1,500 miles from Kyiv, Olha Simonova was an engineer and a sportswoman. With nine drills a week, she had little time for TV and took little interest in politics. In the summer of 2014, however, Olha met a group of Kyivan alpinists in the Pamirs and felt embarrassed when she learned from them that her country was at war with Ukraine and Russian troops were fighting in Donbas.
“When you know the truth, you have two options: watch this all and say, ‘Well, what can I do?’ or do what I did – just go,” she explained in an interview.
She came to Ukraine in December 2014, and as soon as early 2015, she went to the frontlines as a volunteer paramedic. She served in the North Battalion, Golden Gate Battalion, PFVMH, and Dnipro-1 Regiment. In 2016, when Ukraine began withdrawing its volunteer battalions from the frontlines, Olha went to the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade.
In 2018, she joined the 24th Mechanized Brigade as a senior riflewoman of a motorized infantry company. “I adored my machine gun. Any fool can click, but if this is your weapon, you must know how to shoot…I know how to work it, but I always learn something new,” she said.
“I don’t like to toy, if I am given a task – I have to complete it. And there are no options here. Now I try to live up to my choices. Similarly, the country should come to a determination, what do we need? You cannot look at Russia, have a business there, travel there for a living, and simultaneously talk about European development. If you beat up and down, there will be no result, but this country has every chance for a decent future,” Olha told Censor.net four years before Russia’s full-scale invasion.
Thank you for your service, Sgt. Olha Simonova, and for the ultimate price you paid for the decent future of Ukraine. The victory will be ours.
Source: Ukrainian World Congress