Soldiers wrapped in blankets and sleeping luggage, some lacking legs and arms, have been hoisted into the helicopters, whose rotors by no means stopped spinning. They lifted off with eight or 9 wounded fighters that day, Flint stated, a few of whom have been acutely aware sufficient to point out off cellphone movies of the intense preventing that they had endured.
The March 21 mission, captured on movies supplied by Flint, lasted solely 20 minutes on the floor. “There was just this feeling of happiness, emotional satisfaction that we were able to get these guys out,” Flint stated.
In all, Operation Air Corridor, as the effort was identified to contributors, managed to land helicopters at Azovstal seven instances throughout the subsequent two weeks and rescue 85 gravely wounded troopers, Flint stated. A closely sedated Sergeant Tsymbal was amongst these evacuated.
July 24, 2022, 1:06 a.m. ET
But the helicopters additionally introduced in different troopers, largely volunteers, together with Pvt. Nikita Zherdev of the Azov Regiment. His father had died in the shelling of Mariupol weeks earlier, and he wrote his sister earlier than taking off telling her to be taught to maintain herself. He didn’t inform her what he thought: that he didn’t anticipate to go away alive.
“As soon as we landed at Azovstal, I understood that, wow, things are really happening here,” he stated. “Everything was covered in smoke. Everything was under fire. The people who greeted us, shouted, ‘Faster, faster, faster — there are airstrikes every five minutes, the jets are coming.’”
A local of Mariupol, Private Zherdev already knew the troops at Azovstal, however the males he discovered have been withered specters of these troopers, hungry and exhausted and coated in blood and gun oil after weeks of fixed preventing. They have been shocked to see him.