Anyone going to the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago should not miss seeing Truong Sa Lon (Big Spratly) Island, dubbed the “capital” of Truong Sa Island District of the southern coastal province of Khanh Hoa.
Here, visitors will not only be amazed at the prosperous life of the soldiers and the people but will also feel the pride of a rich, beautiful Vietnam and a strong attachment between the people on the mainland and the island.
The Truong Sa Archipelago of Vietnam consists of many islands, including Truong Sa Lon Island. Earlier this year, the island received many delegations from the mainland and in June of this year, a ship carrying a delegation of cadres and relatives of the soldiers defending the island docked there.
During the ship’s two-day trip, the sea was quite calm and the sun was shining, giving us a chance to behold the spectacular and immense sea of Vietnam. We spotted schools of colourful fish swimming in the clean and clear water. From afar, Truong Sa Lon Island appeared like a stronghold surrounded by green trees. In recent years, the island has been developed with modern facilities. It has a telecommunications network to contact the mainland, a solar electricity network, a guest house with spacious rooms to receive delegations from the mainland; a pagoda, a monument to the soldiers who laid down their lives to protect the country, a school for children, a hydrometeorology station and a medical station.
Today, Truong Sa Lon Island is used as an outpost to defend the country’s sovereignty. It also serves as a shelter for fishermen to avoid storms and a place to provide fresh water, petrol and boat and ship repair.
Truong Sa Lon Island.
The future of Truong Sa Lon Island.
A class on the island.
Teacher Pham Gia Huy with his students in a computer class.
Giving check-ups at the island’s medical station.
Most of the households on the island have telephones to contact the mainland.
Vegetables grown by the soldiers on the island.
Soldiers on Truong Sa Lon Island participate in food production.
A volleyball competition of young people on the island.
The hydrometeorology station on the island.
Soldiers on Truong Sa Lon Island practice to protect the country’s sea and island sovereignty.
On June 5, 2011, Truong Sa Lon Island was awarded the 3rd grade Military Medal by the State President.
During our stay on the island, we visited many families of cadres and local people. Most of their houses were built facing the sea and are well equipped. We met teacher Pham Gia Huy, 26 years old, who has lived on the island for three years. Huy said that besides his work in the district’s party committee, he has also taught many students and this work has made him happy.
Meeting with the soldiers on the island, we witnessed their great zeal and optimism about life. From 2006 to 2011, the soldiers have not only fulfilled their task of defending the country but also participated in food production. They have grown vegetables and raised fish and poultry to improve the living standards of the island’s inhabitants.
Recently, on June 5, 2011 Colonel Nguyen Duc Vuong, Deputy Political Commissar of the naval force's zone 4, awarded the 3rd grade Military Medal to the army and people on Truong Sa Lon Island for their excellent achievements in the cause of building a strong army and fostering the national defence and making a contribution to the construction of socialism and national protection. Sharing this joy, we and the relatives of the soldiers, felt very proud of the strong vitality of the island.
The island was also awarded the title “Hero of the People’s Army Forces” on August 29, 1985, the 3rd class Feat of Arms Medal in 1984, the 2nd Feats of Arms Medal for five consecutive years (1996 to 2000), the 1st class Medal of National Defence in 2004 and many flags of the Ministry of Defence
During our days on the island, we also visited the Ho Chi Minh Monument and understood his teachings: “In the past, we had only nights and forests, but today we have days, the sky and sea. Our sea is long and beautiful so we must protect it”.
Time passed quickly and we had to say goodbye to the soldiers and people. However, the sweet memories of the island and the images of soldiers with their smiles will live forever in our mind.