Alexander Prokhorenko

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Alexander Prokhorenko
Alexander Prokhorenko.jpg
Native name
Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Прохоре́нко
Born(1990-06-22)22 June 1990
Gorodki, Tyulgansky District, Orenburg Oblast, RSFSR, USSR
Died17 March 2016(2016-03-17) (aged 25)
Palmyra, Homs, Syria
Allegiance Russian Federation
Years of service2007–2016
RankRAF A F1FstLt after2010.png Senior lieutenant[1]
UnitГерб ССО.png Special Operations Forces
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War (Russian intervention)
AwardsЗолотая звезда Героя России.svg

Alexander Alexandrovich Prokhorenko (Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Прохоре́нко; 22 June 1990 – 17 March 2016) was a Senior lieutenant with the Special Operations Forces of the Russian Armed Forces. He was killed during the Palmyra offensive of the Syrian Civil War. Prokhorenko was identifying targets for Russian airstrikes when he was surrounded by ISIS fighters near Palmyra and ordered an airstrike on his own location.[1]

On 11 April 2016, President Vladimir Putin declared Prokhorenko a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest Russian honor. His funeral was held in his home village of Gorodki on 6 May 2016.[2]


Prokhorenko was from the village of Gorodki in Orenburg Oblast.[3] After graduating from an Engineering School of Anti-Aircraft Missile Defense, he attended the Smolensk Academy of Anti-Aircraft Defense and "graduated the academy with honors".[2] Prokhorenko was married and expecting his first child when he was killed in action.[4]


According to Lieutenant General Sergey Kuralenko, head of the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation, airstrikes were carried out according to the orders of Russian special forces in order to keep Palmyra's historical monuments and civilian areas from being inadvertently bombarded. Prokhorenko had been on a mission to direct some of these Russian airstrikes at ISIS targets, when he was discovered and surrounded by ISIS forces.[3] He was ordered to move to safety before the air strike but told his commander he could not escape the area, before adding: "I am surrounded, they are outside, I don’t want them to take me and parade me, conduct the airstrike, they will make a mockery of me and this uniform. I want to die with dignity and take all these bastards with me. Please my last wish, conduct the airstrike, they will kill me either way. This is the end commander, thank you, tell my family and my country I love them. Tell them I was brave and I fought until I could no longer. Please take care of my family, avenge my death, goodbye commander, tell my family I love them".[5][6]


Farewell to Alexander Prokhorenko on Chkalovsky airfield

Prokhorenko's body was recovered and repatriated in coordination with Kurdish YPG forces. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, his body arrived in Moscow on 29 April and a spokesperson stated his repatriation "was a matter of honor for the Russian Defence Ministry".[1]

The authorities of Orenburg decided to name one of the city's streets after Prokhorenko in his honor[7] and a teacher at Prokhorenko's former school is reported as saying that she and others now wanted to rename the Gorodetskoy Middle School after him.[4]

On 5 May 2016 a concert was performed by musicians from St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre orchestra in the Roman Theatre at Palmyra in Syria conducted by Valery Gergiev. The concert was dedicated to the memory of Alexander Prokhorenko. The theatre is a UNESCO-listed site. In November 2015, ISIS had used the theatre site as a setting for the execution of Syrian soldiers.[8]

Two retired French citizens, Micheline Mague and Daniel Couture, paid tribute to Prokhorenko by donating World War II era military medals to his family. Micheline Mague and her husband Jean-Claude traveled to Russia and presented the medals to his parents, Alexander and Natalia Prokhorenko, and his brother, Ivan, in a meeting at the Russian Defense Ministry.[9] Mague gave a Legion of Honour (Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur) and a Cross of War (Croix de Guerre) with a bronze palm. The awards belonged to close family members who fought in World War II.[10] Daniel Couture sent the Legion of Honour which belonged to his father, a member of the French Resistance. Couture stated in a letter that he felt that Prokhorenko died defending not only Russia and France, but all other countries who are menaced by terrorism. He also wished to honor the Russian people "who had brought their decisive contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany."[11] The "Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur" (Legion of Honour) is the highest French order for military and civil merits.[10]

On October 5, 2016, during a ceremony at the Russian Cultural Centre of Rome, the ANDPI (Italian Association of Parachutists), Section of Rome inaugurated the 161st Parachuting Course, dedicated to the memory of Alexander Prochorenko.


  1. ^ a b c Dearen, Lizzie (30 April 2016). "Body of Russian special forces officer who 'ordered air strike on himself' to kill Isis militants returned home". The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Body of senior Russian officer killed in Syria delivered to Moscow". TASS. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Staff writers. "Russian Hero Who Died Liberating Palmyra Is Dad-to-Be Alexander Prokhorenko". Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b Melvin, Don. "Body of 'Russian Rambo' flown home". CNN. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  5. ^ Nevett, Joshua (3 April 2016). "The last words of Russian 'Rambo' before blitz on ISIS thugs have been revealed".
  6. ^ "Alexander Prokhorenko. Russian Special Forces Commando hero. Last Words Transcript - The Offensive on #Palmyra - World in War". 26 March 2016.
  7. ^ "В Оренбурге в память о геройски погибшем в Сирии офицере назовут улицу". RIA Novosti. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  8. ^ Luke Harding (5 May 2016). "Palmyra hosts Russian concert after recapture by Syrian forces". Archived from the original on 10 May 2016.
  9. ^ "French couple deliver relics". Russia Beyond The Headlines. 5 May 2016. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  10. ^ a b "French Couple Send WWII Medals". Sputnik. 16 April 2016. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  11. ^ "A second Légion d'Honneur". Fort-Russ. Sputnik France. 30 April 2016. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.