In the last month or so we have seen a flare-up in the fighting in east Ukraine, there are a number of theories behind this but that’s not what this piece is about. For me, it was a place where fighting was a day-to-day business. Nothing had changed, just a bit more coverage than usual. So for me, it was time to head back out there, to my home away from home.
I decided that I would hook up with some of my old teammates still slugging it out down there, they belong to a special operations unit working with a number of other units along the frontlines in one or two areas. One of the areas was our old stomping ground the town of Shyrokyne just on the outskirts of Mariupol. This really is one of them apocalyptic towns, not a building intact; bullet holes cover every surface in the area.
Since my last time out here, members of the Ukrainian Army had pushed all way through the town. So we had a FOB on the side I was once shooting at and working there in the night! It was a very surreal moment, driving into this end of town. I even had one them (what the fuck moments) as I realized where I was. To the see the damage that has been done and to know that you played a part in this is was very real for me.
The roads were littered with tail ends from the mortars that have fallen over the years and of course holes, some big some small, not a patch of road left unscarred. As with good old Shyrokyne, it’s not long before the guns ring out and the bangs start. “Welcome home,” I said to myself with a cheesy grin on my face!