SHIRAK REGION, Armenia—The representatives of the Armenian Youth Federation-Western USA’s (AYF) “With Our Soldiers” campaign have completed the visits to the families of fallen soldiers of the Shirak region of Armenia. During the course of the past few months, the families of the fallen heroes from this region received financial disbursements from the campaign. During these visits, Thank You letters from the AYF were presented to the families of our fallen heroes and receipts were obtained as confirmations of the payments.
As in the past, the “With Our Soldiers” campaign allocated $1,000 to the family of each fallen soldier and another $250 for each child in the family. The total amount of funds provided during this phase of the visits to the thirteen families was $13,750, including two families with children.
Tigran Abgaryan (b. 1996) was passionate about serving in the Army and really wanted to be stationed in Artsakh. While in service, he was a member of a tank crew and worked as a mechanic. Tigran loved driving, both cars and later tanks, and even participated in a tank competition in Stepanakert, where he took the second place. The parents last spoke to their son on April 3rd and Tigran told the family that everything was well with him. During the Azeri attack on the on the same night, Tigran and his tank crew went behind the Azeri lines and destroyed three of enemy’s eight tanks before returning to the Armenian position. On the way back, their tank was destroyed by Azeri fire, and Tigran and his crew members lost their lives in it. Tigran was known for his great sense of humor and his radiant smile. A child born in Gyumri a few days after his death was named after Tigran. Tigran’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Tigran Abgaryan:
Arman Andreasyan (b. 1996) was the youngest of the family’s five sons. The native of the village of Metz Mantash, Arman was known for his sense of humor and willingness to lend a helping hand to his friends and neighbors. Though he worked in the fields to help his family from an early age, Arman dreamed about a military career and planned to enter the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy upon the completion of his compulsory service in the Army. He had many other plans, including building a new home for his family and getting married. Arman last spoke to his mother on March 31st, a day before going to the front lines. Unfortunately, his life was cut short near Jrakan (Jabrail) during the early hours of the Four Day War. His body was among the 18 mutilated bodies returned by the Azeri side to the Armenians on April 10th. Arman’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Arman Andreasyan:
Aleksan Arakelyan (b. 1982) had been serving in the Armed Forces for the past 16 years, 10 of which were spent in Artsakh, on the front lines. Lieutenant Colonel Arakelyan graduated from the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy in 2004 and was then stationed in Artsakh, where he served, with minor interruptions, until his death. Born into a military family, Aleksan fell in love with Artsakh and after getting married in 2006, moved his family there, determined to build his future on the liberated territories. Aleksan Arakelyan was a disciplined and demanding officer, who, despite his strictness, cared deeply about the soldiers under his command. On the night of April 2nd, as the news of the Azeri attacks reached him, Aleksan, along with five of his colleagues (Onik Grigoryan, Roman Poghosyan, Suren Melkumyan, Maxim Grigroyan, and Sasha Galstyan), drove to the front lines near Jrakan (Jabrail) to help the Armenian defenders stationed there. Having fought for a number of hours against the ever-increasing Azeri forces, Arakelyan ordered the soldiers under his command to retreat, but none of them obeyed his order. All of them – Aleksan, the five officers under his command, and another six already stationed at this position (Karen Nersisyan, Adam Sahakyan, Bagrat Aleksanyan, Tigran Berakchyan, Andranik Grigoryan, Zhora Yesayan, and Boris Ozmanyan) – fought the superior Azeri forces until their last breath and died together near Position N112 (Jrakan), having caused the enemy dozens of losses. Aleksan left behind his wife, Mary (a niece of Tatul Krpeyan), and two of their children, Astghik (b. 2007) and Hovhannes (b. 2014). Aleksan’s family was given $1,500 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Aleksan Arakelyan:
Argishti Gaboyan (b. 1993) was born in a military family, and served together with his father, Artsvi, near Talish. Argishti followed his dad on the same career path, partly because he frequently visited Artsakh throughout his childhood and fell in love with it. During the Four Day War, the father and son were fighting in the same area. On the morning of April 4th, Argishti ordered his fighters to cover him as he went behind the enemy lines to retrieve the bodies of a few of his fallen friends. Unfortunately, Captain Argishti Gaboyan himself was shot by the enemy while trying to fulfill his sacred mission as a commander of his unit. His body, captured by the Azeris, was the last one to be returned to the Armenian side on April 20th. Argishti was known for his patriotism, discipline, and modesty. Argishti’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Argishti Gaboyan:
Hrach Galstyan (b. 1991) entered the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy in 2007 with the encouragement from his parents, and upon graduation, was first stationed in Mataghis and later in Talish. That is where he also met Anush, a daughter of a military officer, who became his wife in 2015. Together, they continued to live in Talish while Hrach served in the military. On the night of April 2nd, Talish became one of the main directions of Azeri attacks and as a result of relentless shellings, a number of bombs fell on Hrach Galstyan’s home. Having sent his wife and her parents to Armenia, Hrach went to the front lines and kept in touch with his family until April 3rd. He was killed while participating in an operation to retake one of the lost Armenian positions. A month after Hrach’s death, his daughter was born; she was named after his paternal grandmother, Anahit. Hrach’s family was given $1,250 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Hrach Gaboyan:
Khachatur Harutyunyan (b. 1996) was a participant of the Four Day War, who fought valiantly during the Azeri incursion. He had spoken with his family the day before his death, and said that everything was well. Khachatur was killed by a sniper on May 17th near the Armenian positions at Martuni. Described as a modest and introverted young man, Khachatur – who was a beekeeper in his native village of Lusaghbyur – decided to enter a university and pursue a career as an accountant. Halfway through his studies, he was drafted into the Army and was stationed near Jrakan (Jabrail). Khachatur was the oldest of Vardan’s and Lilit’s two children: their daughter is a student at the local village school, which Khacatur also attended. Khachatur’s teachers remember him as someone who always took the blame for everything in order to shield his friends. Khachatur’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Khachatur Harutyunyan:
Vladimir Melkonyan (b. 1996) was one of the first soldiers who lost his life during the attack on Talish on the night of April 1st. He had always wanted to serve in Artsakh, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a veteran of the Artsakh Liberation Movement and died shortly after Vladimir’s birth from diabetes (1998). Vladimir was the favorite of the local community, and all of the families in the neighborhood adored the young man. The family, consisting of Vladimir’s mother and elderly grandparents, lives in very modest conditions and is financially dependent on his brother, Samvel, who works in Russia. The family had lived in a dilapidated temporary housing for a very long time, but received a new apartment in the aftermath of Vladimir’s death. One of the classrooms in Gyumri’s School #27, attended by Vladimir Melkonyan, was named after him on May 27, 2016. Vladimir’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Vladimir Melkonyan:
Tigran Poghosyan (b. 1992) is considered to be the last fallen soldier of the April War. He was a patriotic young man, who was inspired to become a career officer after attending the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy. Tigran – a commander of one of the Armenian positions – had been stationed in Martakert for two years, and was wounded during the Four Day War, but soon returned the front lines. When he was inspecting the Armenian positions on the night of April 25th, a bomb fell into the trench, and Tigran covered another soldier (and saved his life) by sacrificing his own life. Tigran Poghosyan was described as a talkative, humorous, and active young man. His girlfriend, Marie, remembers how proud Tigran was of his military service and how carefully he kept his uniform – a tradition she maintains today in Tigran’s absence. Tigran’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Tigran Poghosyan:
Ashot Shahbazyan (b. 1993) graduated from the Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academy and voluntarily went to Jrakan (Jabrail) to continue his military service. The natives of Akhurian village, Ashot and his brother, Hunan, both followed in the footsteps of their freedom fighter father, who also dedicated his life to defending his Homeland. Ashot last spoke to his family on March 30th, and informed them that he was going to the front lines in the morning. He lost his life on April 2nd, fighting until his last bullet to defend the position entrusted to him. Ashot was one of the 18 fallen soldiers whose bodies were transferred to the Armenian side only on April 10th. His father returned from Russia, where he was working, to receive the body of his son. Having served in the Army command for one-and-a-half years, Lieutenant Ashot Shahbazyan was described as a daring and fearless young man who loved his country and took good care of the soldiers under his command. Ashot’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Ashot Shahbazyan:
Meruzhan Stepanyan (b. 1993) and the unit under his command were among the first to face the enemy attack in the early hours of April 2nd near one of the Armenian positions in Talish. Meruzhan and eight of his fighters destroyed 30 – 35 of the enemy’s soldiers before four of them (Meruzhan Stepanyan, Viktor Yuzikhovich, Aghasi Asatryan, and Rafik Hakobyan) were killed themselves by the overwhelming forces of the Azeris, who managed to enter the trenches. The position was retaken by the Armenian forces the next day, and the four bodies were retrieved. Born in a military family, Sr. Lieutenant Meruzhan Stepanyan followed in the footsteps of his father, Arthur, and pursued a career in the Army. Upon graduating from a military academy, he went to Artsakh (2013) determined to defend the borders of the Homeland. Meruzhan was a talented young man, who was also well-versed in military history and had a great career during his short life. He was described as a respectful, loving, and caring individual, who combined in him the qualities of a soldier and an intellectual. Meruzhan Stepanyan was an avid musician and enjoyed singing military and patriotic songs. In December of 2015, Meruzhan got engaged and planned to get married, but his life was tragically cut short by the Four Day War. Meruzhan’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Meruzhan Stepanyan:
Gevork Vardanyan (b. 1996) and his family had been living in Russia since he was five years old. When the time came to fulfill his military duty, however, the young man voluntarily returned to Armenia and joined the Army despite a number of health issues. Gevork’s cousin last spoke to him on March 30th and the young man said that everything was normal, though shots were clearly heard in the background. Gevork was killed on April 4th during a counterattack launched by the Armenian forces to take back one of the lost positions. Earlier this year, he had saved a friend’s life during one of many Azeri incursions, and as a reward, was allowed to return home for a week. Unfortunately, Gevork himself lost his life a few months later in a mortal attack/shell explosion. Gevork’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Gevork Vardanyan:
Viktor Yuzikhovich (1997) was an accomplished athlete, who had managed to become a champion of Armenia (twice) and a European silver medalist in boxing before reaching the age of 19. He had the opportunity to defer his military service and/or serve in an athlete’s unit (stationed farther from the line of contact), but chose to go to the front lines and defend the border of Artsakh. Stationed in Talish, Viktor last spoke with his family on March 30th. Two days later, his position near Talish (commanded by Meruzhan Stepanyan) was one of the first to be attacked by the enemy. Viktor fought until the very end, and fell victim to a grenade explosion after the Azeris entered the trench. Viktor was described as a calm and introverted young man, who loved sports and his native city. He left behind his parents, Anna and Alexander, a younger brother and an older sister. Viktor’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. Learn more about Viktor Yuzikhovich:
Benyamin Yeghoyan (b. 1992), nicknamed Monte, was one of three soldiers from the village of Metz Mantash who lost their lives during the Four Day War (the other two were Arman Andreasyan and Argishti Gaboyan). He was a career officer, who had graduated from Pokr Mher and Vazgen Sargsyan Military Academies, and had earned the rank of Sr. Lieutenant after three years of service. The enemy attacked the barracks where Monte was stationed, and he was one of the soldiers involved in the counterattack with his tank, during which he destroyed two of the Azeri tanks before being killed by them. Monte was deeply interested in history and literature, and he kept a journal with the pictures and biographies of Armenian heroes. A tall and strong young man, Benyamin always stood up for those who were weaker. Serving the Homeland is a family tradition among the Yeghoyans: Monte’s father is a veteran of the Artsakh Liberation Movement, and his sister, Gayane, also works in the Armed Forces of Armenia. Monte’s family was given $1,000 by the ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign. (No receipt was obtained from Yeghoyan’s family; however, a payment has been made to the family). Learn more about Monte Yeghoyan:
The AYF’s ‘With Our Soldiers’ campaign, originally launched in 2012, was restarted in the aftermath of the Four Day War with the aim of providing assistance to the families of the fallen soldiers. To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation today, you can visit withoursoldiers.com.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.