On Mar 14, 1988 a fierce sea battle took place between Vietnamese soldiers and Chinese troops around Co Lin, Len Dao and Gac Ma, which are part of the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.
Despite the serious imbalance in power, the Vietnamese captains and soldiers unwaveringly resolved to safeguard the islands.
|Mai Xuan Hai ... (Source: SGGP)|
In the heroic battle Quang Binh province alone has 13 fallen soldiers, 2 awarded the title “Hero of the People's Armed Forces”.
The two persons were awarded the titles “Hero of the People's Armed Forces” are Tran Van Phuong ( Don Sa commune, Quang Phuc district) and hero Nguyen Van Lanh (Van Ninh commune , Quang Ninh district ).
In 1980s thousands of Quang Binh youths joined Vietnam People's Navy, the majority of them were sent to the Spratly Islands. In the military recruitment in 1988, more than 300 young men from Quang Binh went to the Spratly Islands.
25 years have passed since the fight, yet that morning has been firmly imprinted in the mind of Nguyen Van Lanh, who told reporters about the battle.
Late in the evening of March 13, Vietnam’s HQ-604 ship arrived at Gac Ma, while the other two ships headed for Co Lin and Len Dao, Lanh recalled.
The majority of the Vietnamese soldiers were sappers who specialized in carrying out construction work on the islands. They built fortifications and other infrastructure during the CQ88 campaign, which was a relentless attempt to maintain Vietnamese ownership of Truong Sa.
At dawn on March 14, Chinese ships closed in on HQ-604. These ships were fully equipped with advanced firepower and lethal weaponry, whereas the Vietnamese vessels were merely designed to carry soldiers, food and construction materials.
|...and his death notice (Source: SGGP)|
Then, the Chinese force sent small boats filled with armed-to-the-teeth soldiers to close in on the Gac Ma corals. Lanh told reporters.
To counter this, on Gac Ma, the Vietnamese soldiers formed a circle, which was later respectfully named ‘the immortal circle’, in an unwavering attempt to guard the Vietnamese flag in the center, Lanh said.
The battle became heated in an instant. The Chinese troops landed in large numbers and tried to break the circle, but failed.
The HQ- 604 ship gradually sank into the sea, taking down with it dozens of soldiers.
Immediately after finishing off HQ-604 off Gac Ma, the Chinese warships turned to bombard HQ-605 with heavy weaponry.
The Vietnamese soldiers’ determination to safeguard the nation’s territory was finally defeated by Chinese.
Since then Gac Ma Island has been illegally occupied by China.
The soldiers of the battle on March 14, 1988 after completing military tasks, returned home for peaceful life.
We also met the three men who were arrested by Chinese troops late on March 14, 1988 and held in Leizhou peninsula (China).
Three soldiers were imprisoned are including Mai Xuan Hai , Le Van Dong, Nguyen Van Thong. After over three years, through the diplomatic channel they were returned to the beloved Fatherland.
But before they returning home, in late 1988 the soldiers’ families received "death notice", Hai said.