Military veteran kept his war heroics hidden

2021-03-22 12:03:30

Army veteran Jiang Cheng at his home in Chongqing's Hechuan district. [Photo by Deng Rui/China Daily] CPC role model, 93, refused to speak of his exploits in Korea until they were revealed by chance "Valiantly and spiritedly, we cross the Yalu River," the elderly man repeatedly sang when he was recently visited by reporters in his village home in Chongqing. Military veteran Jiang Cheng, 93, has cerebral atrophy, a degenerative brain condition, and is barely able to recognize his family members any more. However, he does remember the line from the March of the Chinese People's Volunteers, a popular song about the Chinese military efforts in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53). Jiang, a member of the Communist Party of China, was a hero of the war but his exploits were unknown for more than three decades until an unclaimed letter was opened and revealed his courageous efforts. With the CPC celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the bravery and humility of the model Party member from Guangfu village, Longxing township in Hechuan district, has again thrust him into the spotlight. "I was proud to serve the people and there is nothing to brag about," family members recall Jiang saying before his dementia worsened. "I just fulfilled the duty of a Party member." After the war, Jiang had lived a modest life as a farmer, until mail from 35 years earlier revealed his military past. In 1988, an unclaimed letter containing a military meritorious service award was noticed by a county archivist in Hechuan. The letter was jointly sent by the headquarters and political department of the Chinese People's Volunteers army in 1953. However, it was wrongly addressed to a Jiang Cheng in Xinglong township instead of Longxing and sent to the county archives. A local official opened the letter, which read, "You Comrade Jiang Cheng, with bravery and good marksmanship, led your battalion to break through the enemy's blockades and wiped out more than 400 enemies, destroyed an enemy heavy machine gun and shot down an enemy aircraft, holding ground firmly despite a serious injury, and have cooperated with the infantry to complete the task which played an important role in the victory of the Battle of Shangganling." It was easy to trace Jiang as there were only two or three veterans from the Korean engagement still living in Longxing. Jiang was 60 years old and those around him, even close family members, only saw him as a farmer and silkworm breeder as he had never disclosed his combat achievements.