Yevhenii Khizha (call sign “Alien”) is a junior sergeant of the 21st separate special purpose battalion, who performed the duties of a UAV operator during his service. In May of this year, a soldier was seriously wounded during mortar shelling in Donetsk region.
The fighter told “UP. Life” about the importance of drones on the front line, the rehabilitation process and his new four-legged friend, brought from a front-line city.
Yevhenii Khizha comes from the village of Dibrivka, Myrhorod district, Poltava region. Since childhood, he wanted to become a soldier. However, the dream specialty did not work out, because the admission process in 2010 was quite difficult.
– I wanted to enter the Naval Academy named after Pavel Stepanovich Nakhimov. Everything had to be done through the Military Commissariat. If my classmates’ admissions campaign started in the summer, then I had to pass the medical examination and prepare all the documents in the spring.
The Military Commissariat said that it is necessary to pass tests on the Ukrainian language and mathematics, as well as physical training in Sevastopol. Just in case, I also signed up for geography, because most places required three tests. We even bought tickets to Sevastopol in advance, because it is the summer season, and it was difficult to get there. But I received a letter saying that I still need physics tests. The external examination has already ended, and I did not have time, – says the soldier.
So, after school, Yevgeny Khizha entered Kremenchuk to become a mechanical engineer, but he did not like it there, and later he majored in “Commodity Science” in Poltava.
|Yevhenii Khizha (call sign “Alien”) – junior sergeant of the 21st separate special purpose battalion|
I wanted to volunteer, but my mother stopped me
When the full-scale war began, the boy immediately wanted to volunteer, but his mother strongly asked him not to do this, so they agreed that Yevgeny would fight on the condition that he received a summons.
The summons arrived at the beginning of April.
– I quickly passed the medical board. They said that the shipment to Kyiv will be tomorrow morning. I got home, then they called and said that everything was canceled and they would call me back. I sat at home for a month, waiting, no one called. I went to the Military Commissariat by myself a month later, and they told me: “Come on Monday”– says the fighter.
Later, it turned out that Yevgenia was called from the Military Commissariat, but there was a very bad mobile connection in the village.
On May 2, the mobilized were brought to Kyiv. Soldiers were recruited for the battalions of the presidential brigade.
– The battalion commander and the chief of staff conducted an interview. Some people dropped out because they did not meet the standards and returned to the military commissariat. After the interview, they asked who you want to serve. In general, I didn’t care, I just didn’t want to carry a machine gun or a grenade launcher, – laughs. – Studied as an assistant grenade launcher.
Fighters were trained by instructors within the capital. Yevgeny joined the newly formed unit – the 21st separate special purpose battalion on the basis of the presidential brigade.
When the new arrivals were undergoing basic training, the commander of their unit said that there was an opportunity to learn how to fly drones, and Yevgeny agreed.
|Yevgeny performed the duties of a UAV operator in the service|
Brothers gave the call sign “Alien”
– The boys already had call signs. They went to training within the region, and I stayed in the unit and learned to fly drones. Our first combat order was in the Ivankiv district, near Chernobyl (we occupied the defense in case of a second invasion).
And already there, when we had to communicate more on radio stations, we had to invent callsigns, because surnames were not supposed to sound on the air. I didn’t know what to choose. The guys suggested about the last name, they started saying “Predator”, but I didn’t want something similar with the last name. And then the movie “Alien vs. Predator” came to mind and someone said “Alien” – says the air scout.
Yevgeny’s military unit was stationed in the Ivankiv district, near the Chernobyl zone, where the Russian army used to stand.
– The Russians set up a camp there along the way. The inhabitants of that settlement were under occupation. People live both within the zone and near it. We were afraid for the first two weeks. We were not allowed to dig, although we had to. These are the former parking lots of the Russians, and they left a bunch of all kinds of surprises there: “stretch marks”, etc. – says the fighter.
“Fire adjustment without a drone is almost impossible”
It is no exaggeration to say that drones are the “eyes” of our military. With the help of these devices, you can more successfully control the MK-19 (automatic grenade launcher – author’s note), influence other important processes during the battle.
– Adjustment of fire without a drone is almost impossible now. I used to adjust fire with a compass (a device used in artillery to orientate guns and instruments to locate the target, as well as for observation and reconnaissance, etc. – author’s note). It was also done with the help of scouts who climbed closer to the enemy. On the battlefield, a person, sitting in a trench, determined by hearing whether to open fire further or closer, and this was an adjustment for nothing. Everything took off when I took the drone into the sky. This is all so effective that any enemy assault stops almost immediately, – says the soldier.
According to the aerial scout, the drone not only helps our soldiers fire more accurately, but also covers them during shelling, because with the help of the device you can see all the movements of the enemy.
Obstacles to the operation of the devices can be weather conditions or the fact that the enemy deliberately “jams” the communication.
– On our typical day of service, we fly from dawn to dusk. In Bakhmut, we were as autonomous as possible, because we had Starlink. We were standing 700 meters from the advanced positions, and we were flying further. I broadcast. Everything that the drone sees is seen by the headquarters command and allied units. My commander can control the battle thanks to this, – says the air scout.
|Work process of an aerial scout|
“During the war, a different filmmaking aesthetic was discovered – the destruction of the enemy”
Yevgeny Khyzha says that he always liked videos shot by a drone. In his peaceful life, he dreamed of buying a quadcopter and filming nature.
– During the war, a different aesthetic of filming was discovered – the destruction of the enemy. It is such excitement and excitement that cannot be expressed in words. The guys in the positions only know about the presence of the enemy, they don’t see him. And it’s more interesting for me, I saw all the movements, I broadcasted, we followed them with mortar shelling, etc.
Sometimes allies turn to me. For example, once the border guards wrote that we want to shoot the enemy with a mortar, be it with our eyes. I helped them, I still have a video archive of how their artillery filigree destroyed enemy assaults, how orcs fall, scramble, – laughs.
The downside of controlling such a device is that, with the help of a drone, the fighter also sees the destroyed homes of our citizens.
– The first times we “flew” from the 9th floor, which is at the entrance to Bakhmut. They had such a need because they were looking for positions from which to fly. The most difficult thing was to “walk” through these empty apartments and look at the ruined lives of people, – says Yevhenii Khizha.
Brought home a cat from a front-line town
From the middle of December 2022 to the end of February 2023, Yevheniya Khizhi’s unit was stationed in the city of Druzhkivka, Donetsk region. On his way from the store to his temporary home, the fighter saw a cat. The animal ran next to him with its sibling, and then followed the boys.
The animal lived with the military for a month. She was given a nickname – called Manka or Mala. Four-legged became a real joy for Yevgeny after difficult combat missions, because she soothed with her purring.
After some time, the fighter’s unit had to change its location. Evgenia did not want to leave the cat to look for other soldiers. I also didn’t want to drive her through forests or fields. So the fighter bought a “carrier” for the animal and, going on vacation, took the cat with him. Now the four-legged man lives in Poltava Oblast.
|Evgeny took the cat home from the front|
He was wounded while trying to save his brothers
During his service, Yevgeny Khizha had the opportunity to visit the village of Zalizny near Toretsk, Klishchiivtsi and Bakhmut.
It was in Bakhmut in May of this year that a soldier was seriously wounded.
– We had planned rotation. But everything went wrong from the beginning. At that time, I flew from Ivanivskoe (this is a village near Bakhmut at a distance of 3 kilometers) and covered the boys, – says the fighter.
During the rotation at night, mortar shelling began. It was difficult for the military to navigate in that area. They knew well how to get to their positions, but at dusk they took a wrong turn and got lost in the private sector.
– I was with the commander and heard on the radio that the boys could not leave. They split up: some went one way, and some went the other way. I had a good orientation in that area, because I flew over it all with a drone the day before. There was nothing left to lift into the air, and I asked a car to take me to look for the boys, – says the fighter.
Yevgeny, the driver and the company foreman headed to the evacuation point. During the departure, the first mine landed. The wheels of the car were punctured and the glass was blown out.
Yevgeny led the driver and the foreman to a safe place, because he knew the hiding places there, and he himself went out to look for the boy. There was no time, because the mortar shelling continued, and it was important to keep the car in working condition in order to somehow return.
– I almost found my brothers, and a mine flew by. He stepped two meters – and then he could not see anything in front of him. Then a sharp flash, my leg buckled, I didn’t even feel pain, – says the soldier.
A fragment of the mine went flying, Evgenia tore the muscle above the knee, and a small fragment remained in her hand. The soldier was taken away by the driver and the company foreman. Everyone was miraculously saved, because the car was quite damaged.
Evgeny was sent to Druzhkivka, and then to Dnipro. For about a month and a half, the fighter was in intensive care units of hospitals in Dnipro and Kyiv. Due to a long stay in damp basements, the soldier developed severe pneumonia against the background of the injury, and he was lying on a ventilator.
Later, Yevgeny was treated in the department, he underwent four operations.
Doctors wanted to write off for six months, but asked to reconsider this decision
The fighter’s rehabilitation has been going on for three months. Yevgeny says that he has practically completed the recovery, but the sensitivity of the damaged area has not fully returned, the leg still does not bend normally, because after the operation there is a complication – vein thrombosis. Due to this complication, the doctors wrote off the fighter for six months.
– I agreed to review the decision in a month. I have already been to another doctor for an examination, so now I plan to return at the end of the month (the conversation took place on September 21 – author’s note) to the boys in my unit. A new position is already waiting for me there, I used to be a freelance operator and now officiallysays the aerial scout.
For his service, Yevhenii Khizha received the “Golden Cross” pectoral medal from Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny.
His plans are to defend the Motherland to the end, until the enemy is pushed out of our country.
– I went there with one goal – to win. The war has not stopped, the goal has not been achieved, so I see no reason to stop, – summarizes the fighter.
Natalia Syrobab, especially for UP. Life