Farmer Nguyen Van To and his wife in Da Bien Village, Thanh Phuoc Commune, Thanh Hoa District, Long An Province, built a shrine in Dong Thap Muoi to worship martyrs of Regiment 207, who died in a fierce battle in 1973. Over the past 20 years, his family and local people annually held death anniversary to commemorate martyrs and his house became a venue for local people and martyrs’ relatives.
Located in a border area with Cambodia, Da Bien Village witnessed a lot of fierce battles between Vietnamese troops and invaders in wartime, including the battle of Regiment 207, under former Military Region 8, against invaders in October 1973.
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Vu Trung Kien, Deputy-Head of the liaison section of war veterans of Regiment 207 recalled that on October 3 rd , 1973, Regiment 207 operated from Cambodia to Kien Tuong Province (now a district in Long An Province). Troops were billeted in Da Bien Village to resume operations at night. However, the enemy knew where the Vietnamese troops were, they sent helicopters and a M113 helicopter to shell the billet. The Vietnamese troops bravely fought against invaders, killed and injured hundreds of them and shot down one helicopter. In the battle, many Vietnamese troops lost their lives.
Learning about the story, in 1990, Mr. To chose a hillock near his house to build the Bac Bo Shrine, which was named after an irrigation ditch flowing through the village, to worship martyrs who died in the battle. After that, he expanded the area around the shrine by ten square meters and borrowed money from relatives and local people to upgrade the shrine.
Annually on September 8 th in the lunar calendar, To’s family prepared some dishes to commemorate the unknown martyrs. Mai Thi Tiep, To’s wife, said that because those martyrs were mainly from northern provinces, she usually prepared northern dishes to worship them.
Gradually, many local people knew about the shrine and To’s deeds. They came there to burn incenses to commemorate martyrs and back his family up to hold a death anniversary for martyrs.
|Martyrs' comrades sail to farmer To's house to commemorate their comrades |
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Vu Trung Kien said that this is the second hometown of those martyrs. Incenses, rice bowls and cups of wine will warm those martyrs who died for national independence.
As revealed, after war, local people and authorities, and search teams tried their best to find sets of remains of martyrs in the area. However, just around 80 of them were found and more than 200 others have not been found yet.
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Phan Xuan Thi, Head of the liaison section of Regiment 207, said, “In 2011 while martyrs’ relatives and I were finding sets of remains of martyrs at the area of Bridge 79, Village 5, Tan lap Commune, Thanh Hoa District, I heard of the Bac Bo shrine, and I was aware of the place which witnessed fierce battles between the Regiment 207 and the enemy.”
Through the liaison section’s members, many martyrs’ relatives travelled the length and breadth of the country to To’s house and the shrine in an attempt to learn something about their relatives.
Located on an area of around 16sq.m, the shrine has an altar with words “Died for Nation” right at the altar’s edge. In rainy seasons, the shrine was submerged and Mr. To had to move the incense burner to a higher place.
In response to expectations of Mr. To, local people and martyrs’ relatives, the Liaison Section of Regiment 207 and the local authorities decided to build a stele house to commemorate soldiers in Regiment 207 who died in Da Bien Village. The project, at a total cost of VND5billion, is scheduled to be completed in July.
Translated by Tran Hoai