Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Missing Soviet Soldier Found Alive In Afghanistan After 33 Years

From NPR

"More than three decades ago, Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in Afghanistan after he was wounded in battle with Afghan mujahedeen forces.

His whereabouts remained unknown until two weeks ago, when he was tracked down by a team from the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a Moscow-based nonprofit that looks for Soviet MIAs in Afghanistan.

Now a widower, he goes by Sheikh Abdullah and works as a traditional healer in Shindand District of Herat province in western Afghanistan.

As a soldier in a motorized rifle unit, Khakimov had "received a heavy wound to the head in the course of a battle in Shindand District in September 1980 when he was picked up by local residents," the organization said in a statement posted on its website.

Rather than return to his unit, Khakimov decided to stay, changing his name, converting to Islam and eventually marrying an Afghan woman.

"He now leads a semi-nomadic life with the people who sheltered him," the organization says.
Alexander Lavrentyev, the head of the organization, told a news conference on Monday that after he was wounded, Khakimov, an ethnic Uzbek from Samarkand, was nursed back to health by a local faith healer, who taught him the trade.

"He was just happy he survived," Lavrentyev was quoted as saying by Russia's RIA news agency.
RIA describes him now as an "an elderly-looking, impoverished widower with a wispy beard."
When he was found, he had no ID but was able to identify other Soviet soldiers, which helped confirm his own identity.

"He could understand Russian a little bit, but spoke it poorly, although he remembers his Uzbek language," according to the organization's statement. "The effects of his wounds were clearly manifested: His hand trembles and there is a visible tic in his shoulder."

Soviet armored vehicles leaving Afghanistan (1989)

A nice reminder that 1) the Russians were in Afghanistan before the U.S. was, and 2) the Soviet Union was a multinational empire.

I was kind of hoping after I read the headline that this would turn out to be another No Surrender situation, but it is still pretty interesting.

Hiroo Onoda
Hiroo Onoda (小野田 寛郎 Onoda Hiroo?, born March 19, 1922) is a former Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer who fought in World War II and did not surrender in 1945. In 1974 his former commander traveled from Japan to personally issue orders relieving him from duty. Onoda had spent almost 30 years holding out in the Philippines.[1][2] He held the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army.

I read this book when I was a kid; I wasn't quite about to wrap my head around his motives or experience at the time. What is really crazy is that he was not the only "hold out."


I hesitate to link to this site but it also covers Mr. Onoda (and in general is fairly amusing). Read the site's warning before clicking the link:

"You should probably also be aware that this site features an unnecessarily copious amount of profanity, so if you are easily offended by that sort of thing, then this would be a good time to turn off your computer and join a convent."

I agree that the profanity is gratuitous, unnecessary, and distracting; if it was elided the writing would actually improve.







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