Russia pays tribute to Palmyra hero who called in anti-ISIS artillery strike on his own position

© Vadim Savitsky
From Thursday, Russians are paying their final respects to Aleksandr Prokhorenko, a Russian officer who was surrounded by terrorist forces during the battle for Palmyra and called in artillery fire on his own position.

Lt. Prokhorenko was taking part in the Syrian army recapture of the city of Palmyra from the hands of the terrorist group Islamic State in March. He was on the ground conducting reconnaissance and target acquisition for Russian warplanes, which were providing support for the Syrian forces.

© Vadim Savitsky

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His position was compromised, and he found himself surrounded by enemy forces. Rather than be captured, he called in an artillery strike on his own location, dying heroically.

His body was recovered from ISIS by Kurdish militia and handed over to Russia for a proper burial. 

This week, a two-day ceremony for the slain soldier is being held in Russia. 

On Thursday, the farewell ceremony, in the presence of Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, took place at the Chkalovsky military airfield outside Moscow.

Prokhorenko's body was then put on a plane and flown to his native Orenburg Region in southern Russia, accompanied by his mother.

The funeral is to take place Friday, which was declared a day of mourning by the region’s governor.

Prokhorenko's final resting place will be a cemetery in a small, remote village of some 500 residents, where he was born and where his mother still lives. He is to be laid next to the graves of his parental grandfather and grandmother.

The state funeral is to be attended by Prokhorenko's fellow officers, with whom he served and studied with at military school, as well as friends and loved ones. The 25-year-old officer is survived by his wife, Ekaterina. She is expecting a daughter, but sadly Aleksandr never had a chance to find out that he would become a father.

In April, Prokhorenko was awarded Russia's highest military decoration posthumously. His family also received WWII-era medals from France, sent in gestures of gratitude and appreciation.

The Magues family learned of the Russian officer's death from the media and decided to send several military decorations awarded to their family members for heroism during World War II. Their example was followed by another Frenchman, Daniel Couture, who sent his father's Legion d’Honneur medal to Russia. On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry thanked them all for sharing their grief and building friendship between the two countries.