“It is now in July, I have a dog-sleep for a few hours every night because I have not found my comrades’ remains yet. Something in my mind urges me to set off”, said Tiem.
|Nguyen Thanh Tiem checks his comrades' information from a notebook |
Nguyen Thanh Tiem joined the army at the age of 22 at Commando Battalion K10 of the Quang Tri Command. During the national resistance war, he fought in many fierce battles such as Quang Tri front-line or La Vang battlefield in 1967. At that time, he thought he amazingly had a narrow escape from death when he was severely injured in a battle by a bullet penetrating from his left-back to right-armpit.
Nearly 40 years after the national reunification, he always wonders that why he was so lucky. And he believes: “Perhaps, my comrades protect me”.
After the war, he was demobilized and worked at the Dong Ha Party Committee to his retirement age. “After retirement, every day he is always busy searching and collecting his comrades’ information and remains. Sometimes he refuses to take a rest though he does not feel good in bad weather and he also suffers from diabetes. He experiences a dog-sleep all night, and in the morning of the following day, he carries his knapsack on shoulder for trips to find his comrades”, said Mrs. Nguyen Thi Xuan, Tiem’s wife.
The hardest thing does not come from traveling deep jungles, but it comes from changed terrains after the war. Furthermore, after collecting the remains many times, no one knows exactly where fallen soldiers’ sets are. “Sometimes, we were empty-handed after a month’s search”, Tiem said.
“About 10 years ago, a person in Hai Lang found two old notebooks which listed names of K10 troops and places where they had laid their lives. Immediately, I came to and redeemed the two things. From this time, I find easier to search and collect my comrades’ information and sets of remains”, Tiem said.
However, Tiem also concerned that although the two notebooks listed his 400 comrades’ identifications, little sets of remains of his comrades are collected.
Tiem has kept these books for 10 years and remembered all days he found his comrades. In the day time, he finds his comrades, and at nights, he writes letters to inform his comrades’ information to their families. So many letters, so many times he welcomes his comrades’ relatives. Some months, he received martyrs’ relatives in 30 days and also set off to find the sets of remains of martyrs with their families.
“We cried on the day we found the remains of martyrs Luu Ton Doan (Tien Lang, Hai Phong). I myself collected his remains to bring him to his hometown, despite only ashes and dust, I felt it is a victorious day”, Tiem said. “Hundreds of my comrades had sacrificed at the age of 20. They did not get married. Their relatives are only relationship. So it is hard to find and bring the martyrs’ remains back their home”, Tiem added.
Unit K10 was set up in 1964 with 10 members at first and then was upgraded to Battalion K10 in 1967. Over 12 years of fighting against enemies, K10 killed over 10,000 enemy troops, shot down 11 aircraft and destroyed 322 tanks and armed vehicles. For these achievements, the unit got the noble title “Hero of the People’s Armed Forces”.
Translated by Van Hieu