Georgian Victory Day

                    2010 TBILISI, GEORGIA VETERAN’S CELEBRATION OF                                   “День Победа” 
(DAY OF VICTORY)



I attended the May 9, 2010 Victory Day celebrations in Vake Park in Tbilisi, Georgia, as I have so often done in the past both in Tbilisi, and Tallinn, Estonia.   I went there to interview the old veterans and photograph the celebration.                                                                                                                                                                                
Three hundred thousand Georgians died while serving in the armed forces of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War.  The surviving veterans have always sent representatives the Moscow Victory Day celebrations held each May 9 since 1945.  However, due to   foreign intrigues, and miscalculations by the Saakashvili government, this was the first year during which Georgian veterans did not officially take part in the festivities.  The aging veterans watched the Moscow parade on TV and saw troops from the CIS, France, UK, and US marching in the Red Square, while they, who sacrificed so much to protect Russia from the Nazi invasion, were not invited.  

I will try, in small measure, to convey an image of the proud and glorious Georgian veterans of the Red Army who were at the Vake Park Memorial to celebrate the May 9 th  “День Победа” Day of Victory.                                                                                                   
Unfortunately, an aged veteran died during these ceremonies at the Vake Park.  The pictures below convey an image of an aging generation of heros, the likes of which we may never see again as they rapidly fade from our company.  Below are some of the photos I took that day and the veterans I interviewed. 


                                          
Vake Park memorial to Georgian WW II veterans.  All generations were present to thank the elderly veterans of the Red Army.  The step like structure leading up to the top are part of the monument. On the top is a Georgian lady blessing the dead.  When I was there in 1210, I was told that Saakashvili also plans to destroy this monument as well to show his distain of Russia and ingratiate himself with NATO.   I don't know whether this monument has been destroyed yet.


                                      
                                                          Sculpture of a dying Georgian soldier

                                      

   
                                                                          
                                                                                      Georgian honor guards
                      
       
                                                              
                                                                  Georgian Army band playing war time tunes.
                  

                                                             
Abris Avagimov, age 87.  Participated in the battle for Stalingrad as an infantry captain.  He  valiantly fought in the cellar of a building until the building collapsed on him.  He lay in the smoldering ruins for five days until he was rescued.  Abris was awarded the Order of Lenin for his heroism in Stalingrad.  He was wearing this order.

                                                        
Name unknown, age 86.  Participated in the battles on the Caucasus front and took part in driving the German forces from the Crimea.   He was awarded the Order of Glory for courage, which he wears, during close infantry battles at Sevastopol.


                                                               
Maria Nedodaeva, age 85.   Served in artillery supporty of the 64th Army at Stalingrad.  Worked in communications.


                                                        
Giyo Tsulaia, age 87.   Served on the Ukrainian Front as a combat medical doctor.   His two Orders of the Red Star were received for medical service during the capture pf Prague.  Held a rank of captain during WW II.  After the war, he became the head of the KGB medical clinic, which explains his two KGB badges on his uniform.                                                           


                                                                  
Tatiana Sichaulidze, age 86.  Served as medicine sister (nurse) with the 265th Mountain Division.



                                                        
Simon Turvandisvili. age 86.  Simon was the commander of an anti-tank unit.  He started service in defense of Tula during Germany's campaign to capture Moscow.
 

                                                                   
Vera Chakvedadze, age 90.  Served as a lieutenant in artillery support in the battles around Rostov and Odessa.


                                                                            
Levan Labadze, age 91.  Served first in the Russo-Finnish War of 1939.   Fought as a captain of an infantry unit from Teriokki to Vipuri.  Later fought as an infantry major in the battle at Leningrad.   Retired from the Red Army as a Lt. colonel.

                                            
Andro Akopov, age 85.  Served as a sergeant in the First Ukrainian Front, initially in the infantry and later in a tank battalion.  Decorated with the Order of the Patriotic War and two medals for bravery.

                                                                         
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