“All of us entered Chechnya as young, innocent boys. All of us left as dead men. Wether you physically died or not. I often thought the ones who fell in battles or ambushes were the lucky ones.

I was drafted into the first Chechen war as an 18 year old boy who had never even seen or fired a rifle. I left, not as a man, but a shadow of one. I had killed men and watched friends die horribly in front of me.

Some were killed by mortars, rockets or bullets. Others burned to death or were tortured by Uncles. (Chechens) I remember a good friend of mine was riding atop a tank in Grozny. A Chechen fired an RPG and killed all 7 men riding it. Not one of those men had seen a single day of fighting yet. It was their second day in the city.

The tank fired right into the building, wounding several people badly. We stormed the building, captured the Chechen, and dragged him out into the street by his ears like a child so he could see what he had done. We shot him in the head. Senseless. All of it.

If you walk the streets of any Russian town today you can almost pick out the veterans of the First War. Their eyes. There’s nothing in them.”
– Alexei Yermolov. Russian Soldier. First Chechen War. 1995.
This story was documented by Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.