The Airport: A story about war that never had to happen and heroes who wanted to live but died



Kyiv, September 3, 2015. “In the fog, at the take-off field, a grey disheveled scraggly mass was swarming with snarling and woofing. Dogs, ran wild over the war, hungry as wolves; they were toring apart the body of a separ [pro-Russian separatist fighter] who was still alive,” thus starts the novel The Airport by a Los Angeles Times correspondent and photographer Serhiy Loyko. “This is not a chronicle of the battle for Donetsk Airport. I was there for just four days and caught only a glimpse of what was going on there. But the spirit and power of courage that I saw in the eyes of those Ukrainian men became the inspiration for this book,” Loyko shared his impresseions during the official presentation of his book at the press briefing in the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. “All the characters of the book as well as the airport are but a fiction. The main thing was to pass the emotions of fear, love, courage and bravery of the “cyborgs“ [Ukrainian soldiers were nicknamed as “cyborgs” by pro-Russian fighters for their apparent invincibility], Loyko said. “First and foremost, I wanted to keep ways of soldiers communicated with each other. All the rest is built on actual events. The main character is a reporter – a journalist who went through the war. The main story line is about love. Whether all that took place in reality is of no significance,” the author shared secrets of the novel.

Serhiy Tanasov, senior sergeant from the 79th airborne brigade and one of the renowned Ukrainian “cyborg” soldiers, was among the first readers of the book. “If you read at least one paragraph of this book, you will get the ambiance in which we lived at the time. For a moment the feeling returned as if I was among my friends again. Every word carries the spirit of a Ukrainian soldier,” said Sen. Sgt. Tanasov.

“The most important thing is that the people will always remember the heroes and hardships of our country. The book solidifies our faith and the faith of the people. It also reminds us about those heroes who are no longer with us,” added private a soldier Ihor Andruhov of the 74th reconnaissance battalion.

“When Mr. Loyko explained the idea of his book and told about it in the media, I told him that he romanticizes our image a lot. I was there. There were lots of complicated, painful things and we watched all this from our soldierly point of view. Yet I am incredibly thankful for it. We are in the middle of information war and it seems that Ukrainians are losing it, unfortunately. In my opinion, this book is an objective account of war. It provides a stronger impact than any piece of news in the media,” another “cyborg” Mykhailo Kucherenko shared his first impressions about the novel.

During the presentation, Serhiy Loyko read an excerpt of the text – a story of the Russian soldier’s mother. “Let this section about the Russian mother who lost her son in this war be in the book. I tried to depict events in the East of Ukraine from all sides,” added the author. A charity auction will take place during book sales called “Give a soldier a book for free.” Everyone will be able to buy more than one copy of the book to give it to Ukrainian soldiers engaged in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) area, as well as to their families. The Airport novel will be available in all bookstores across the country.