On March 28, 2022, I will post:
– brother. Are you well? It’s me, Gaddafi.
I just learned that Tor has traveled to Ukraine.
We are the same age and have known each other since childhood.
He played soccer, went for apple cider and played cowboy and Indian.
Ten days later, I received a response on an encrypted messaging service.
– It’s going well, brother. I am in Ukraine very tired.
Then he sends a picture of himself with an automatic weapon.
I am shocked. Why on earth did he go there?
Tor says there is heavy fighting in the area and he will send another message in four days.
– Take care of the old vultures. Be safe, I answer.
Everything is surreal.
This happens in the middle of filming the new season of the documentary series «Norway behind the facadeOn TV 2.
In one episode, my colleague Jan Ampel and I explore the question “what are we willing to die for”?
We are talking with Norwegian soldiers who are guarding the border with Russia.
But we also meet Norwegians who leave safe Norway to help Ukraine.
Who risk their lives for another flag on their shoulder.
When I received the shock message about Tor, I had just returned from Poland.
There we interviewed two young men from Norway who were preparing to travel to Ukraine.
They both appear by name and face on Monday’s episode of “Norway Behind the Facade”.
They say they can’t just sit back and watch the Russians invade.
They feel they have to fight for Ukraine.
While thinking I wish they could live, I was introduced to my childhood friend, Tor.
Suddenly, working with “Norway Behind the Facade” became very personal.
On April 4, 2022, new messages from Tor will appear.
– Go forward soon, brother.
– Shit, when?
– Two or three days. It will be a decisive battle. Hell.
– I have mixed feelings about this Tor. You are fighting for a noble cause, but this could also cost you your life, my friend.
– I totally understand that. Stay tuned.
Every morning I send a message to Tor. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up.
And every day I wait for signs of life. What if he was killed?
It’s mid-April 2022.
I did not receive a response to the messages within six days.
Then comes the thumbs up.
How are youAnd I ask.
– are surrounded where we are now.
– Very worried. Possibility of finding a way out?
– It’s going well, brother. Always a way out.
Optimist Tor comes from the so-called furnished house.
Experienced fathers and well-educated brothers.
But he did not follow in their footsteps.
The coincidences of life wanted something else.
Tor has always been a good coach and that’s what got him into the doorman business in the 90’s.
This, in turn, provided a close connection to the criminal underworld in Oslo.
This plus experience from the armed forces made him a tough house.
NOK 35,000 in salary
Thor has no wife, children, or job.
In other words, a free man.
But traveling to Ukraine? I wouldn’t have thought of that.
He continues to send updates and photos when he is allowed to turn on his mobile phone.
There is a strict discipline in the field. Such is the case in war.
Occasionally we talk about the encrypted app.
He is keen to pay tribute to the unity of the team.
There are volunteers from the USA, France, England, Portugal, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Poland.
They all have a military background.
The salary is paid by the Ukrainian military, NOK 35,000 per month.
If they die, the survivors receive five million Norwegian kroner.
At the end of April 2022, Tor will be allowed to return to Norway. He’s tired.
The rest of the team will go to the capital to rest.
One cannot fight without strength.
I received a message before boarding the plane from a neighboring country.
He wears a uniform with the Ukrainian flag.
– brother. You should have looked at the airport. Many Ukrainians come to me and say thank you very much. My heart cries for all the children in Ukraine.
Back home in Norway, it’s nice to see him again, but something is troubling.
It’s not like it used to be.
I’ve never seen Tor so serious and dark before. The group of friends invited him to dinner at Aker Brygge.
While everyone is enjoying themselves, Tor is quiet.
He has no appetite. Not in the mood for a beer either. He mostly wants to go back to Ukraine.
Staring at the wall
Friends were surprised. Didn’t he do his part?
For the next few weeks, he isolated himself.
Tor cannot engage in anything social or fun.
On May 10, 2022, I received a new message.
– I’ve been sitting and staring at the wall since I got home. I just want to go back to Ukraine.
– I understand that you want it. But I am also thinking of your loved ones here, answer.
Two weeks later, he could take it no longer and got on a plane to Poland.
– Hello, brother. Take the bus from Warsaw to Kyiv. It took 17 hours. Waiting to hear back if I’m going to Kharkiv or Mykolaiv.
While waiting, he goes to the military hospital and visits the wounded with whom he fought. One of them was called Sniper Steve.
It was a difficult visit. Many are in the hospital without arms and legs.
I understand that the bonds he made are strong.
That’s why he came back.
To defend men.
And therefore Ukraine too.
thinks the worst
On June 11, 2022, he was asked to go to Donbass.
– He writes that change will come to those who are not afraid.
News footage has consistently shown where intense fighting takes place in Ukraine.
He was often in exactly those places.
Then it was easy to think of the worst.
Tor continued to send me pictures from the field. With strict notice.
– brother. Please remember that you should never post any of the photos of people you have submitted in their entirety. If you are in the area of operations, you are not allowed to be online for long periods of time.
Every morning I keep sending him a message.
– everything is OK?
The answer will come when it comes and waiting is hard.
Deep down, I know if anyone survives, it’s Tor.
He is brave, but not stupid. He wrote in one of the letters:
– There is a lot of preparation before each mission. Short, dry training and marksmanship training. If you don’t, you go straight to hell.
Sniper and Stinger
The documents that Tor sends me over the next few months will be war notes.
“Hey. Located in a valley not far from XX. Returned to base after three days in the woods. Be ready with Stinger to shoot down the chopper. They use grubs that make hell sound. Took one sniper on the bridge over the river at 1,000 meters. Now in ten minutes Notice. It means that by that time we must be ready with weapons and personal equipment.
At the end of August 2022, Tor decided to return again to Norway.
Then he was in Ukraine for two tours.
This time he wasn’t as impressed as the first time.
We meet regularly throughout the fall and he talks all the time about wanting to go back to Ukraine one last time.
On Christmas Day, a message appears on the mobile phone.
– I’m going to XX.
In the following weeks, he described difficult combat actions.
On January 15, 2023, he wrote something that really worried me.
do not forget me
Brother, don’t forget me if he goes to hell. takes care.
– do not say that. Nothing will happen to you. But you have to come back before it’s too late. Don’t press it too hard.
Not responding until the next day.
Incredibly survived the process too. He is forced to hide under three dead Russian soldiers. It was bombarded all the time by Russian tanks, artillery, drones and soldiers. I have seen and experienced things there that are unbelievable.
A week later, Tor chose to return home to Norway.
for the third time.
He says it was the last flight.
I met him a few days ago in Oslo.
It was nice to give a hug to a teddy bear.
I expected to see a tired warrior, but no.
He was very happy. Whole face glow.
There can only be one explanation.
– Did you get yourself a lady?
– Yes, she is Ukrainian and lives in Norway. I’m madly in love.
Now a new era begins in Tor’s life.
The dream is to visit Ukraine with his new girlfriend.
One day there will be peace.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”