(photo credit: )
St.-Sgt. Yonatan Valesiuk, 21, from the southern town of Lahav, was killed in a battle with Hizbullah operatives on Thursday.
Valesiuk served in the elite Egoz battalion as a lone soldier, having left his mother in the Ukraine six years ago to make aliyah in the framework of the Jewish Agency's Na'aleh project.
He began his service in the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal, vowing before his draft that he would serve in the most elite unit he could get into.
Born Sergei, Valesiuk changed his name to Yonatan because he wanted to be more Israeli. His first three years in Israel were spent at Kibbutz Shoval, where residents remembered him as a fine example of a principled young man who wanted to serve his adopted country.
Valesiuk told his mother in their last conversation that he had only three months to go to the end of his military service.