Interview with Vadym Petruk, Ukrainian scout awarded with the Cross for the Heroic Deed

04.10.2013
Author: Петро Задорожний

Hello, tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from, what do you do?

I was born in the Volyn' region, at age 4 moved to live in Luts'k, after graduating high school was admitted to the National University "Ostroh Academy" and obtained a Master's degree in economic cybernetics. Now I work as a manager of logistics...

How did you start your life in scouting? What do you do in Plast today?

I started scouting in 2002, when my father's friend heard about the organization and told my father about it. Until then I tried attending pretty much every sports club in Luts'k - from track-and-field to karate . However, none of the activities provided me with as magical an atmosphere as Plast did - so I stayed and have remained a plastun till this day... I started as a yunak in a group called "Black Cranes" (our counselor was Vitaliy Shpak), which belonged to kurin' no.9, named in honor of Vasyl' Stus. At one time or another, I tried out various duties within my group, except for scribe and property manager. In 2007, our group left kurin' no.9 in its entirety and created a new one, which today is known as kurin' no.83, named in honor of Klym Savur. In July of 2008, I "pledged" kurin' no.3 of USP "Lisovi Chorty" (Forest Devils), of which I am still a member.

While I studied in the university, I occupied a number of positions in the local and regional Plast executive bodies, serving as the Chairman of the local board for one term. I also looked after my own group of scouts called "White Dragons".

Recently, you received one of the most prestigious awards in Plast - the Cross for the Heroic Deed. Please tell us the circumstances surrounding this "heroic deed".

In the summer of 2012, I and my friends traveled to the seashore to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our scout group "Black Cranes". During one of our trips out to sea, we noticed two young families, who also came there for a vacation...

They put their children on an inflatable mattress and left them unattended, trying to pitch a tent in the meantime, which turned out to be a difficult task due to the strong wind. This wind also started pushing the children out to sea...

Since the water was very cold, there was nobody bathing or swimming in it. When we heard one of the fathers scream for help, I and Roman Koval' got up and ran to bring the children back. The children saw that we were swimming toward them and gathered on one edge of the mattress, flipping it as a result. There was only one boy with a rescue vest on, about 2-3 years old, the rest looked like they were 4-6 years old...

Once we were able to reach them, we pulled them back to the shore...

Can you attribute your ability to save a human life to your training and experience as a scout?

I am certain that if I were just another volleyball or football player, I would be unlikely to go into the water to rescue the children… The principal motto of a scout is "Be prepared!" and Plast, as a scouting organization, provides those skills to really "be prepared" for any situation: from the simple ability to orient oneself either in an urban environment or some open terrain to the ability to rescue human lives.

Do you maintain contact with the boys you rescued?

Unfortunately, no... The parents were not too friendly or talkative... The only person that thanked us for rescuing the children was an elderly lady that was selling corn at the beach, and the only words I heard from a father were "Imagine that - took a ride on a mattress…"

What does one need to become a hero?

Simply not to be indifferent to other people's problems - indifference is the worst human trait, even anger or frustration are expressions of emotion, which establishes at least some connection among people, while indifference is just killing our society… It's the concern for the problems of the others, even the tiniest, most minuscule human problems, that helps first to believe in oneself and later to "Be prepared" to become a hero…

What plans do you have for the future in your scouting and professional lives?

As a scout, I want to continue doing my best to be useful to Ukrainian Plast and the Ukrainian people, wherever and whenever it is needed... In the professional sense, I am only beginning my journey, but my plan is not to be left behind

Tell me a few words about your hobbies.

My hobby is the military history of Ukraine and the world until mid-19th century and also the history of the sailing navy (until mid-19th century).

I am very interested in history, customs daily living habits of the Native American from North America. I dream of visiting the region of the Great Lakes, to be able to see the nature of those parts with my own two eyes and to fell the "Great Spirit".

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