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 For obvious reasons our OP #12 Dragon’s Tooth got it’s reputation as an outpost that got most firefights in the whole regiment. There are several reasons for that. First (and foremost) is that this OP borders the Khisarak valley, Khisarak’s khishlack sits close to the outpost and valley itself leads directly to Pakistan’s border.

There is another permanently hot valley on the opposite side of Panjshir river. It’s called Pyawusht. It also has a bunch of khishlacks which house a bunch of dudes with ill intentions. But Pyawusht is not as deep, windy and long as Khisarak. And it points towards Salang, not Pakistan. Salang is also kinda OK, it’s a strategically important object. But guns, ammo and drug supplies come from Pakistan, not from Salang. WE hold Salang. Pyawusht’s thugs along with Khisarak’s mofos raid Salang from time to time. They plot some diversion, get their asses kicked and flee back to Pyawusht and Khisarak. So OP #15 that sits above Pyawusht occasionally gets hot and fun. Guys from #15 also get into good fights. But #12 Dragon’s Tooth is tougher! Because Khisarak is tougher than Pyawusht.

So once upon a time… as they say – when we were young and trees grew with their roots down… a caravan comes at the Dragon’s Tooth. [Mentioned caravan is not a classical one with eastern men and camels. It’s a military caravan which is comprised of soldiers carrying things on their backs. In the midst of the mountains it was the only reliable way to supply topmost OPs. Other way was dropping cargo via helicopters but it was very risky because cargo could roll down the hill (there were very little suitable landing spots, it’s a ridge after all) plus insurgents had heavy machine guns and possibly Stingers and were constantly monitoring the area] Hairetdinov unloads guys and lets them rest. Then he sends them all back to the regiment’s base. So all those guys get up from the warm afghan floor, shake the dust off and prepare to move out back to the base. All except one. This one dude also gets his ass up but he doesn’t intend to leave. Quite the opposite, he speaks to Hairetdinov:

[with heavy central Asian accent] Comrade praporshik, private Charyev is assigned under your command!
Hairetdinov rubs his chin, chats over a radio with Graphic for a bit. Then goes like “Aaaah, the hell with it. Stay then, since you came. What a joy! So much joy that they sent you here. Now go over to the 3rd Point and don’t bug me”.
Charyev comes to the 3rd point and that is where I happen to be. Because this is where I’m assigned to face hardships of military service.

So Charyev comes here. We get acquainted with each other. Well, kind of, because we’ve seen each other already a thousand times. He’s just about to demob. This autumn. About a month or two and he can fire a flare and shout “Gimme my dembel!” out to Afghan’s sky. Dembels do this often. I’ve even seen Dembels shout “Gimme my dembel” at someone else’s flare. I guess they see it as a small fireworks show fired to honor end of their service.

So we sit and chat with Ovezberdi. It’s Charyev’s name. Ovezberdi! Why not? Quite a decent name... Turkmen name.
We sit in the shadow of a camouflage net and smoke some cigs. After all, caravan came here. It brought smokes and food. We smoke and slowly chat. Well, to be exact, Ovezberdi says he’s serving as a driver on a battalion's kitchen truck.

You can see GAZ-66s with tents behind these officers. These tents hold food. Out of view, there is a ZIL-131 (seen on next photo). A huge truck with a field kitchen inside. That one is what Ovezberdi serves on.

Main perk of such service is that even if all of the battalion goes climbing mountains on a mission, there is still a lot of people left at the base: privates on duty, orderlies, wounded and other staff. They all need to be fed. And there is not much difference for a cook whether to feed 500 or 150 men. In both cases routine is the same: get up at 4am, get clean water, make preps. So he can’t go climbing mountains. Because if he does, everyone in the camp will have to suck a paw like a bear in his den while waiting for spring. So cook doesn’t go to war. As well as Ovezberdi. Where would he go? Battalion’s kitchen is an important object. What if there will be a need to move it somewhere else. And ZIL itself needs constant maintenance. If something in army doesn’t have an owner – it magically vanishes. Reflectors first. Then mirrors. Some day wheels go missing. So it’s unthinkable of sending Ovezberdi away from the kitchen truck. And yet for some reason he’s sitting at Dragon’s Tooth. What the hell? Is it some kind of a prank?

[with heavy central Asian accent] Know Captain Sukhanov? – Ovezberdi responds to my question.
— Yes. He’s a zampolit in our battalion.
[with accent] I hit he face.
— Why? Are you out of your mind, hitting a captain in his face? — I unintentionally whistle upon hearing this. Sukhanov is a dry and fit guy, just as his last name. [“Sukhanov” sounds similar to “sukhoi” which translates to English as “dry”] He’s not tall, one could beat him with no fear – he wouldn’t kick one’s ass back. But… BUT!!! He has Captain straps and he’s a deputy commander!
— You know, bro, you’d be better off punching me. I’d throw one back, we’d have some bare knuckles fun. Why the fuck did you hit a Captain? What where you thinking? Had you nothing else to do in a kitchen?
— E-e-e-e-e, normal! — Ovezberdi lies on the ground and smiles. — Any man – punch him one or two, tomorrow your best friend.
— So you where establishing a friendship with zampolit?
— Of course. You’ll see, he respect me later very much.
— Damn you’re a sketch, Ovezberdi! Quite a stunt you pulled on your dembel! To punch a zampolit in his face. Good thing he sent you here, on Tooth, and not in the sappers’ company. Damn you’re a sketch man!

A couple days pass after Ovezberdi’s arrival. During those comes a wizard on a helicopter and drops us a couple of rolls of barbed wire. ["wizard on a helicopter" – a phrase from a soviet birthday-related song. It says something along the lines “Suddenly a wizard on a blue helicopter will come and show us a movie free of charge”] So Dragon’s Tooth’s commandant [Hairetdinov] informs us on new orders: Gerasimovich, Kleimenychev, grab this roll and drag it from helipad to that dugout. We’ll use this one as intended. And while you’re at it, others who are not on duty will grab shovels and promptly plant some fence poles for the wire.

The order was clear. I would even say explicitly clear. Me and Bender grab a sapper shovel, stick it’s handle through the roll and start executing.

We get knackered even before leaving the helipad. And as soon as we move onto a mountain’s slope, we realize we’re getting killed by this duty. On a slope our relative heights shift all the time. That roll slides down the shovel’s handle and painfully slams into our hands. Just look at those spikes on the wire. They bite into us all the way from wrist to elbow. You “ouch” like mad as blood drips down from your hands. This nasty bitch is as heavy as 300 tons of TNT (661386.79 lbs). Well, OK, I don’t know how much it weighs. I’m pretty sure me and Bender wouldn’t have pulled up 100kg (220lb) at this height. But I bet this thing weighs around 60 (132lb). So, after a couple steps, we both have our hands shredded up and we drop it on the floor not even caring to pull the shovel out.

This is when I remember an old army proverb and that you can roll round things. [Originally it’s a satirical order that says “Drag round and roll square!” which alludes to absurdity of some army orders and routines.] So we set the roll on a trail, Bender goes 5m (~16ft) down that trail. I shove it with my boot so now it should get down by itself and Oleg should catch it.
And this is when Hairetdinov appears from behind a cliff. And what does commandant see? He sees one monkey push the roll. The roll gains some serious speed and starts jumping up on bumps. Smartass Oleg realizes he’s still too young to die and simply jumps over the speeding roll. The latter obviously slips off the trail and goes down the mountain.

— Catch it! Catch it! — Hairetdinov shouts.
Yeah, sure. Catch my ass. It’s bouncing full speed down to the mined to the brim Marishtan.
— You brainless morons! — Hairetdinov roars at us — Can’t even trust you to wipe your own asses!
— But we… but it… — We mumble in response. — But have you seen how heavy it is?
— Ah, fuck it! Belay the order! Grab 2 backpacks, you’ll go there and bring that roll back up.

“Oh my miserable insufferable life” swoops inside my mind. I hang my head and slowly walk toward the 3rd Point to grab my backpack.

[with accent] Dimon, cool! — Ovezberdi meats me at the 3rd. — Let’s Ride Marishtan!
I suppose he, as a driver, knows how to say “ride” but not “walk”. And there is quite a nuance to it. Because there is a heavy ass roll of barbed wire down there and no roads to ride.
— You’re out of your mind, Ovezberdi! How in the hell are we going to bring it back?
— Ride, Dimon! Grape and apricot down there! The fuck with wire. Wire be later. First be eating grape and apricot!

I bring my surly ass back to Hairetdinov from the 3rd trying to come up on the way with any reasons to not go bringing back that shitty roll. How are we supposed to carry it in the first place? It’s going to pierce through the duffel bag and bite into one’s back. Well, if it even fits the bag… And we can’t unwind it, it will be impossible to wind it back later.

— Dimon, ride! — Happy Ovezberdi is cheering me up. — Ride, don’t be pussy!

Seems sneaky dushmans noticed some strange commotion on our OP. So they decided to light us up so we don’t tempt.
As soon as I get below the 3rd onto a slope facing the regiment, Khisarak’s dushmans start firing their DShK. But if previously they would’ve shot singles or at maximum 3-round bursts, this time they start slamming full auto.
My first thought is good thing I’m behind the ridge. They’re not going to pierce the mountain so I’m safe. But they still do something unimaginable. Ta-da-da-da-da-da-da!!! Tu-du-du-du-du-du-du-du!!! And hits over OP – Slap-slap-slap-slap!!! Are they fucking high, those bearded weasels?!

And then one bullet goes SLAM! It ricochets off a cliff, starts spinning like a circular saw and sets off vertically into the sky howling on the way. Commonly bullets ricochet in horizontal plain. As they fly away from you their howl fades off in afar. But this one goes straight up. First it’s sound fades out until it reaches it’s peak and then starts fading back in as the bullet falls down.

Holy shit! As if it’s moaning on someone’s death. — I think.

— Comrad praporshik! — Comes Manchinski’s voice from the 3rd. — Charyev got killed!

Of course that damn barbed wire is out of equation at this point. Everyone who is not on duty rushes to the 3rd. Maybe he’s not dead yet, maybe we can still save him!

When we get to him it becomes obvious – there is no saving. A bullet from DShK came into AGS’ firing port, hit a cliff, started spinning like mad and hit Obezverdi in the base of his scull. His vertebrae got pulverized and were sown around the foxhole. Everything is splattered with blood and sprinkled with tiny bone pieces. Ovezberdi is lying on sand with the back of his head blown off. There is a large puddle of dark red blood on the sand that came out of the wound. His parasympathetic nervous system is completely separated from a sympathetic one. Part of vitally important organs is smeared across rocks and cliffs of the foxhole. Other part is stuck onto a masking net. How are we going to collect and shove it all back inside to save him? No chance.

Fuck! Fucking clusterfuck! I have no better words for it. I’d rather agree to “ride Marishtan”. We’d leave the point together and that bullet wouldn’t have gotten him. I’d rather lose my shit dragging that roll all the way back. But Ovezberdi would be alive…

Hairetdinov comes in.
— Grab the first-aid and bandage him up!
— What for, comrad praporshik? — We freeze with a surprised stare. — Bandages won’t resurrect him.
— I’m well aware. But HQ might not be. And they might accuse us of not providing first aid to the soldier. And say he died of a blood loss. So bandage him. And I will go report on the radio.

Manchinsky rips the first-aid package and starts bandaging back in place an almost completely cut off head. I get a shovel and an empty AGS’ ammo crate. You can’t imagine how much blood, freshly poured out from a human, stinks in such heat. Flies and wasps start flying around attracted by the smell.

I’ve gathered Ovezberdi’s blood. It fills the whole crate. It took mere couple of seconds to spill 5 or 6l (1.3-1.6gal) of blood from a human. Even if we would immediately place him on an operating table, no doctor would help him anyways. Especially when his spine is all around the point!

Defeated, I leave the point with the bloody crate. I have to bury it. It is blood of my brother in arms.
While I’m burying Ovezberdi, I accidentally push one stone. It rolls down the hill and trips the wire of a Stretchie. Fuse goes “Clap”. I realize what is going to happen after 4 seconds so I promptly hide behind a rock. “CRRRRACK!” – blows up an Efka. I can recognize by the sound it was an Efka.

I stand out from behind the rock. Take a cautious look at the OP:
— Guuuys, don’t shoot! It’s me, I’ve tripped a Stretchie! — I shout to the OP. Then shout again, just in case. They’re all alerted, they must’ve heard me. After that I grab the shovel and get done with it. And go back to the OP.
— Stop right there you shit! Hands up! — A familiar voice floods me from above, a voice known by all Khisarak. Because it’s Hairetdinov’s voice.
— Comrad praporshik, don’t shoot! It’s me! — what a joy that Hairetdinov wants to capture a dushman and not kill him. Otherwise I’d be stuffed full with his bullets.
— Oh, fucking Student! It’s you again!!! You’re nothing but trouble! I’m so fed up with you! I was thinking here is my Order, here’s my captured dushman!..

Then a helicopter came to pick up Ovezberdi.

Photo and data are taken from “Книга Памяти о советских воинах, погибших в Афганистане” (Book of Memory of Soviet Soldiers Who Perished in Afghanistan).

CHARYEV Ovezberdi, private, driver. Born 10.06.1964 in “Kalinin” sovkhoz1, Ashkhabad region, Ashkhabad county, Turkmen SSR. Nationality – turkmen. Worked at “Communism” sovkhoz.
Drafted to USSR AF in 26.10.82 by Ashkhabad’s Republican Military Commissariat. Deployed in Republic Afghanistan since dec. 1982.
Was taking part in 22 military operations. Proved himself to be a brave and courageous soldier.
KIA 18.08.1984 during an armed fight in Pyawusht valley.
Is awarded the Order of the Red Star (posthumously).
Buried in at homeland.

And again HQ rats wrote some nonsense. Pyawusht valley is on the other side of Panjshir from us. Ovezberdi died on Dragon’s Tooth. And I don’t know how many operations he got involved in. But on Dragon’s Tooth he came after being a field kitchen driver. And died…

I don’t know what zampolit should think of it now. But the exile he set up went unnecessarily effectively! More effective than sending him to sappers...

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