16 May 2018

Sargis Stepanyan in Mirror Spectator

"Special to the Mirror-Spectator

NEW YORK — When Maj. Sargis Stepanyan realized a fellow soldier was trapped among landmines during a special operations forces mission in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), he did what the best military commanders on the battlefield do — he risked his own life trying to save him. That rescue attempt would ultimately cost him his two legs and right arm, but helped him fulfill a greater calling through the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund (AWHF) and its life-saving mission.

Hailed as a war hero since that fateful day in 2014, Stepanyan has continued to devote his life to the Armenian Armed Forces and has discovered a new purpose of raising awareness for the medical emergencies soldiers face on the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as providing counsel to other wounded soldiers, inspiring them.

In his first-ever trip to the United States, Stepanyan spent time in the New York metro area as well as in Las Vegas and Los Angeles to garner support for the AWHF’s US Military-Grade Kits that have allowed soldiers to become their own medics on the field in the crucial moments after they’re hit.

During his time in New York, Stepanyan was recognized by the Knights of Vartan in a special award ceremony at the Times Square Armenian Genocide Commemoration on Sunday, April 22. He also participated in awareness events that week at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City; St. Vartanantz Armenian Church in Ridgefield, NJ; an Armenian Genocide Flag Raising Ceremony in Fort Lee, NJ; Hovnanian Armenian School in New Milford, NJ and the home of James and Maral Sahagian in Mahwah, NJ before heading west.

Saving More Lives, Buoying Spirits

His story is not only inspirational but also connects the diaspora to the ongoing conflict in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the sacrifices being made to protect the historic land. When the landmine detonated on Stepanyan, he was rushed to the hospital in Stepanakert, which didn’t have enough blood stored to sustain his injuries. Fellow soldiers with his blood type donated their blood through the dangerous method of direct transfusion. During the aftermath of the explosion, his heart stopped three times.

“It must have been God’s will for me to remain on this earth,” said Stepanyan, 35, who was born and raised in Yerevan before joining the Armenian Armed Forces and subsequently its Special Operations Forces.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich presenting Maj. Sargis Stepanyan with a plaque during the city’s flag raising ceremony in honor of the Armenian Genocide on Saturday, April 21.

Doctors credit his survival to his tremendous athletic shape, thanks to his years of training as a soldier and paratrooper. Once stabilized, he was transferred to a hospital in Yerevan by helicopter and during the flight Stepanyan began to feel better, perhaps because he was accustomed to being elevated high in the air during his military training and operations..." read all article by Taleen Babayan on mirrorspectator.com

/ Tomasz Wisniowski