Surrounded by jihadists near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, Alexander Prokhorenko (left, with his pregnant wife, Ekaterina), 25, ordered Russian warplanes to obliterate the area.
The special forces soldier, on a secret mission in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, has since been hailed as a hero in his native Russia.
His wife Ekaterina, who is pregnant with their first child, today revealed she had no idea he was fighting in Syria
It is believed President Vladimir Putin will personally present his his family with a posthumous Hero of Russia award, the country’s highest honour.
When he left home for his final mission two months ago, Ekaterina believed he was going to serve in Russia’s Caucasus region, not an ISIS stronghold where he was identifying targets for bombing raids.
Alexander said he felt like ‘the happiest man in the world’ when the two wed 18 months ago, according to one account.
‘His voice trembled as he said that everything he wished for was coming to him,’ according to one account.
‘He wanted to serve in the army and became a military, he wanted to have the best wife in the world, and there she was for him.’
Having dreamed of a military career, Prokhorenko enlisted in the Military Academy of Air Defence of the Armed Forces of Russian Federation immediately after leaving school.
His two brothers were also in the Russian military and he is believed to have served in the special forces, although Moscow is yet to confirm this.
ISIS media claimed last week that five Russian special forces officers had been killed near Palmyra, sharing images and videos of a body.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied at the time that Russian officers were participating in the advance on Palmyra, which has been under ISIS control since May 2015.
Moscow’s defense ministry said Russian aircraft carried out 146 strikes on ‘terrorist targets’ in the Palmyra area between Wednesday and last Sunday.
Natalia Meshkova, head teacher of Gorodki secondary school from which he graduated in 2007, said: ‘The entire village is in mourning.