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Vigen Tatintsyan - A life by turns in white coat and uniform

His childhood passed in an Afghan village, teenage years went by in Artsakh, and youth unfolded in Iraq… The map of Vigen Tatintsyan’s life is crowded with red pins marking the tense days of warfare and feats of an army doctor.

He was born to a military family in Kushka, a borderline village in Afghanistan. His father, Arno Tatintsyan, was a regular officer in the Soviet Army. Since tender age Vigen was inspired to follow resolutely the steps of a father he always saw clad in the military uniform.

A childhood dream and the son of an Artsakh Hero 

“First I wanted to be an officer like my father, Arno, but my mother hoped I would find an occupation in medicine. Her tears convinced me and eventually, I dedicated the biggest part of my life to military medical service.

My father was serving in the missile troops and artillery of the 7th Guard Army of the Transcaucasian Military District, when fighting broke out in Artsakh. He came to Armenia and joined the newly created state committee on defense, where he served as the chief military expert. He went to combat in 1991.”

“My father founded the first missile battery in August 1992, when I was 22 years old. I had the honor to fight beside him several times, although he would try to send my away, saying, “I’m fighting so you don’t have to!”

I remember the first detachments and conscripts of the Armenian army. It was nighttime. We made a stop and stepped off the road, surrounded by the mountains. I was wearing the uniform too. I got out of the ZiL (military vehicle – Mediamax) to walk a little and I saw soldiers everywhere, some of them asleep. I was pacing by myself as I heard a soldier ask me:

“Excuse me, are there any bears around?”

“Sleep tight, no bears here,” I replied.

It was so funny. I thought to myself, “These boys will be fighting a tough war in two days…”

Unfinished business of the father and the volunteer army doctor’s return to Artsakh

“My father, head of staff of the missile forces and artillery, Colonel Arno Tatitsyan was killed in combat in 1992. After his death, when I already finished my studies, I got a notice from the military commissariat that they needed military doctors. I packed and went to the commissariat of Charbakh.

People recognized me by my surname and my father’s name. The head of the conscription commission approached and said I couldn’t be there, as servicemen’s families are free from conscription.

I submitted an application and asked to take me in as a volunteer. That is how I got into the army and went to Karvachar.

I joined the 4th special motor rifle regiment in the evening. Our commander was Gagik Melkonyan, a wonderful person and officer. We had a great regiment overall, I am proud to have served there. Our positions were in highland, in the Omar mountain pass. The temperature dropped to -30° C in the winter and conditions were harsh, but we were a strong, united combat team. To be honest, the best years of my life passed in Karvachar.”

“We had some very difficult times. Often soldiers would get wounded by mine explosions or sniper fire, but we had so little of necessary medical equipment. When I arrived at the aid post, we only had veterinary pain medication or simple metamizole and benadryl, and individual first-aid packs.

One soldier got wounded in lower limbs and was bleeding heavily. Imagine: we were riding in an Ural, it was winter, frozen emptiness around us… We arrived at the post, the soldier was screaming and rocking from pain, his blood pressure was dropping. There were no drugs at the post, but I always carried some with me. Sometimes, at my own risk, I used drugs we were not allowed to prescribe outside the hospital.”

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