Oleh Onishchuk was born on 12 August 1961, in the village of Putryntsi of Iziaslav district in Khmelnitskyi region in the family of workers.
Oleh finished the Iziaslav secondary school № 5, where he studied well, read a lot and even more was involved in sports. According to his mother Maria, since his childhood Oleh was fond of books and films about the Second World War, about the scouts and was a fan of the army.
In 1978 he joined the famous M. V. Frunze Kiev Two Orders of the Red Banner higher military command college, where he studied at the faculty of intelligence. In 1982, after graduating from college Oleh was sent for further service in the special forces in Transbaikalia, and then to the Central Asia.
Onishchuk was writing a report with a request to forward him for service in Afghanistan for eight times. And finally he achieved his goal.
Oleh Onishchuk arrived to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) in April 1987. And he was assigned to the 186th separate detachment of Special Forces (SF sep det) of the 22nd separate brigade of the 40th Army at the position of the commander of the intelligence special operations group (WG SF). Subsequently he was appointed to the position of Deputy Squadron commander.
This detachment was like a family to Oleh Onishchuk, because 186th SF Sep det was formed on the basis of the 8th separate brigade of Special Forces at Onishchuk’s home-town of Iziaslav. The task of the detachment was to overlap the caravan routes by which weapons and ammunition were supplied from Pakistan to the Mujahideen through the deserts Hush and Registan.
Almost immediately after arriving in Afghanistan the young officer plunged into the hell of fighting and proved to be a determined and even-tempered officer.
From the memoirs of Hero of the Soviet Union Yu. Horoshko, Onishchuk’s comrade: “... Remember Oleh before the first combat exit. All the people had long been resting, but he was preparing carefully. He sat at the map not closing his eyes for the night. He was a talented scout and a very hard-working officer... One of our blood...”
His first exit as a commander of WG SF was difficult. Soviet reconnaissance group was spotted by the mujahedeen. But thanks to Oleh’s determination and ingenuity the scouts managed to complete the task and break away from the pursuit of the Mujahedeen.
Gradually Oleh Onischuk’s reconnaissance group became a powerful fighting unit. One of the most successful lieutenant Onishchuk’s operations is considered the fighting exit of 5-12th July 1987, during which the mujahedeen antiaircraft installation “Erlikon” with ammunition was captured. For capturing that installation lieutenant Onishchuk was introduced to award the Order of the Red Banner.
From the memoirs of Lieutenant Nikitin, who served in Afghanistan under the command of Oleh Onishchuk: Onishchuk was an officer of a rare competence in the field of specialized disciplines and widely knowledgeable in general military matters. Always had his own point of view. Never imposed his point of view on the other people, but he could defend it, and argued the case by the results of fighting exits. He could spend hours In search of the right solutions. He was characterized by a healthy ambitiousness and striving. But before taking risks, he was thinking over their actions a hundred times and did everything to save the life of his subordinates."
Overall for the half-year stay in Afghanistan 26-year-old Lieutenant Onishchuk had assets of 23 military exits, 11 of them successful.
However, the white stripe of success was interrupted by an unfortunate disease – before the last operation Oleh fell ill with hepatitis. Although the disease itself was not a very nice thing, but twice unbearable for the intelligence officer was waiting for returning to the ranks. Onishchuk was discharged in record time, threatening doctors with escape.
Returning to his unit, Oleh got the good news – his second daughter he was born. In his last letter he wrote to his wife that he wanted to see his girls, and that he longed for them, and that he was planning to come on holiday in the summer. But those plans went awry. The last combat negated everything out.
The terms of operation were postponed repeatedly. Originally the group was to leave on Oct. 23, 1987. But some circumstances deferred that unfortunate day, as if fate was trying to alert the intelligence officers and their commander.
On October 27, a group of 16 men went to perform the task. The next night, Special Forces went to the area of the village Duri.
The caravan appeared at night when it got dark. The group commander found a convoy of 3 vehicles that were forwarding on the road that was used by the mujahedeen for transporting weapons and ammunition from Pakistan deeper into Afghanistan. WG SF secretly took firing positions and with focused fire damaged the main truck – triaxle “Mercedes” filled with weapons and ammunition, and destroyed a caravan guard.
Oleh Onishchuk contacted the command by radio and asked permission to stay until the morning to check, after the arrival of an inspection team, what was transporting that damaged truck. The headquarters of the detachment agreed, and said that at 6 a.m. the helicopters deliver the reinforcement to Onishchuk’s group to ensure the maintenance of the “Mercedes”. In anticipation of the inspection team Onishchuk’s scouts took a position near the damaged vehicle.
The next day at 06.05 a.m. the commandos were attacked by greatly superior enemy forces.
According to the reports received later from some covert sources of information, the Onishchuk’s group fought with 3 gangs of mujahedeen, total of more than 200 people. The Mujahedeen were moving forward to conduct ambushes against the columns of Soviet troops along the road from Kabul to Kandahar. However, after discovering that a commandos group was operating in the area, the rebels decided to destroy it.
In front of the group commander fought heroically and died his subordinates one by one – Junior Sergeant Sidorenko, privates Jafarov, Muradov, Hrolenko, Moskalenko, Muradian, Ivanov and Salahiiev. Onishchuk himself and Junior Sergeant Islamov were tightly surrounded by mujahedeen. Having shot all the bullets, in a fierce hand-to-hand fighting Oleh Onishchuk and Yurii Islamov blew themselves up with grenades, killing 13 of the Mujahedeen.
On the whole, during the battle the group destroyed 63 Mujahedeen, including Modad – the commander of illegal armed groups in the province of Zabol and the influential field commander Nasser.
When the question arose, who is to be send to help the Onishchuk’s group, his friend captain Horoshko was immediately elected. However, due to a fatal combination of circumstances and problems in the organization of departure the assistance could only set off at 6:40. When they arrived, intelligence officers Onishchuk’s scouts were almost gone. Their mutilated bodies, disfigured by the furious Mujahedees, were lying on the hillside.
So heroic and tragic at the same time was the battle near the village Duri for a Senior Lieutenant Onishchuk.
From the letter of the command to wife of Oleh Onishchuk Galina: “With deep sorrow and a heavy heart we have to inform you that your husband Onishchuk Oleh, performing a fighting task, commanding a division, was killed heroically, carrying out to the end of their military, Patriotic and international duty. He skillfully directed the actions of the group, showing the highest courage and bravery, personally destroying several bandits; your husband died a heroic death”.
By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of 5 may 1988, senior Lieutenant Onishchuk Oleh posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Other rewards of a glorious scout – the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner, the medal “For Military Merit” – also found their hero posthumously.
The memory of the hero is still alive. This is evidenced not only by numerous plaques, monuments, stands, but also a variety of activities to commemorate the hero.
The school in Iziaslav where Oleh studied and which is currently named after him has become a genuine spiritual center for patriotic upbringing of the young generation. Each pupil of the school knows who O. P. Onishchuk was and is proud to study in the same school where the Hero of Soviet Union Guard Senior Lieutenant Oleh Petrovych Onishchuk had once studied. A stand, dedicated to Oleh Onishchuk, was also created at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War.
The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine makes considerable efforts to hold onto the memory of Oleh Petrovych Onishchuk. His name has been added to the Memory Book of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, and a special exhibition in the DIU Museum is dedicated to the feat of Senior Lieutenant Onishchuk.