Future For Ukraine
Future For Ukraine
Future For Ukraine

Reports 2023

December 23

"The biggest challenge is the possibility of becoming permanently immobile, the amputation of my arm was not as upsetting as the lack of mobility"

"The biggest challenge is the possibility of becoming permanently immobile, the amputation of my arm was not as upsetting as the lack of mobility"


Before the great war, Oleksii Dernov's life was full of interesting events and adventures. He was fascinated by historical medieval combat, worked as a train driver, and had a deferral from mobilization. But with the start of the full-scale invasion, he left all behind and volunteered for the front.

While defending our land from the invaders, Oleksii lost his arm and is now undergoing prosthetics and rehabilitation along with three other seriously wounded soldiers at the MCOP clinic in Washington, DC. 


Oleksii, please tell us how you got into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

I couldn't be drafted because of my reservation as an electric train driver. So I decided to go as a volunteer. 

I wanted to join the Azov Brigade, went to them for selection and passed. But it so happened that while I was waiting for the final decision from them, I was already taken to the Marines. So in January 2023, I joined the 37th Separate Marine Brigade. 


You did military training abroad, tell us where and what kind of training

We had general military training and passed the weapons handling exam in the UK. In Italy, we learned to work in small groups. 

In general, we got different knowledge and skills. For example, tactical medicine saved many lives, including mine. It's like taking out a turnstile on autopilot, putting it on, tightening it, checking it. This also applies to the fact that after an assault, you have to provide first aid even to the enemy. 

Plus, we also had to complete obstacle courses. You are completely immersed in the atmosphere: traps and obstacles are set up, and there are even sound speakers so that we can hear the sounds of explosions all the time. They throw training grenades and shoot blanks. 


Could you please tell us how you were injured? 

It was 25 June 2023. They started shelling us, and we had to run for about 4 kilometers under heavy fire. Many people immediately received a bullet wound, but we tried to shoot back. 

I first got a bullet wound, and then came under artillery fire — a 120-caliber mine hit me. The occupiers were watching us from a drone, and an enemy mortar and tank were firing continuously. 

We still cleared a kilometer of our land. But at what cost? One of my comrades was killed, and three people with me, the heavy 300s, and 10 more people, the easy 300s. 


Did your comrades immediately provide you first aid?  

Yes, they put up turnstiles. I even tried to do something myself: while the men were unpacking the first aid kit, I was already taking off my armor and helmet. They put me on a stretcher and carried me again for 4 km. We waited for the evacuation for about two hours, and one of my comrades died because of it... The way back was difficult – we ran through enemy trenches, through the forest. 

I came to Zaporizhzhya, and I brought my arm with me. It was hanging on my skin for a while, but then it was detached. I asked to wrap it up and carry it on my chest in the hope that they would sew it back on. The doctor who met us said: "You brought your arm with you... Let's try to sew it back on." 

Then I lost consciousness and woke up without my arm – there was nothing to sew it to. The lower part of my body was more or less intact, but the bones and muscles were severely wounded with fragments. 


What were your emotions and thoughts when you realized that your arm could not be saved? 

Immediately after I was wounded, I tried to move my right arm, but nothing happened. I looked and saw my arm hanging. Thats it! The first thing I thought was that my mum would piss off. I hadn't told her that I had volunteered. You know, as a mother, she would not want to let me go. 

Then I tried to move my legs, but they wouldn't move. The worst thing was to lie there and think that it could be shelling again and then I could explode with others.. 

Already in hospital, because I was immobile, my two legs did not work at first, because there were wounds everywhere - I had heavy thoughts then. I had no arm, my legs were beaten, my stomach was cut, I had a fragment in my liver... It was a lot of pressure. And my friend was killed! 

Now I can talk about it calmly. 


Were you ready to go to the US for prosthetics? 

I was a little worried because it was far away. It's a new world, a completely different side of the Earth. But it was not out of fear, but rather anticipation. I was as excited as if I were 16 years old. I also wanted to go to a concert by my favorite band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers! 


Would you like to return to service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine?

Yes, I have this desire. I just don't know what I will be able to do there after my injury. We'll have to see what I'm able to do after the prosthetics. I was hoping to get behind some big machine gun or work as an instructor and teach combat tactics.

We thank everyone who helps our defenders return to active life, particularly, the project's patron, Vadym Stolar!

Future For Ukraine[email protected]