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15/05/2020 - 09:47

Beside the milestone of love

From Hue City, back nearly 110km to A Dot Border Gate Guard Station (BGGS) (A Luoi - a mountainous border district of Thua Thien Hue Province, 70km from the city to the west), following the patrol officers and soldiers protecting the borderline and border milestones, we understood the silent victories of the border guards.

A Dot Gate Border Guard Station in coordination with Border Protection Company 531 carried out bilateral patrols

Imbued with friendship

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Ngoc Son, Head of A Dot BGGS received us with military honors. Through the talk with him, we understood more about the external border defense work between the units tasked with protecting both sides of the border.

Opposite to A Dot BGGS lies Ka Lo Village, in Ka Lum District, Se Kong Province (Laos). Laotian border guard force has the Border Guard Company 531. Ta Vang Police Station always has solidarity, friendship and close coordination in the task of protecting the borderline and border milestones between the two countries.

According to Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Ngoc Son, quarterly, A Dot BGGS Station and Border Guard Company 531, under the Military Command of Sekong Province, carry out rotational talks, exchange information and professional knowledge, coordinate bilateral patrols to preserve the border order and fight against all kinds of crimes, especially to prevent and fight against the illegal religious propaganda activities and the activities that take advantage of ethnic issues, human rights to incite and disturb public order.

The border area between the two former units was the starting point in embellishing and thickening the Vietnam-Laos border milestone system in the section running through Thua Thien Hue Province. The border demarcation units between Vietnam and Laos joined efforts for months among deep forests to plan the positions of borderline and border milestones.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Ngoc Son recalled that determining the position to erect milestones was difficult, but erecting milestones in the border was all the more difficult. All of the positions to erect mileposts lie on the top of the mountain; the only way to reach there was crawling.

The milestone body is made of monolithic granite weighing up to nearly 1 ton, plus nearly 10 cubic meters of reinforced concrete foundation. To transport a milestone, they had to use a sack, old quilted blanket to wrap it up, and then gradually pull it up.

Sometimes, it took several days to take milestones to the chosen position. People often joked, "Pulling milestones as our forefathers pulled cannons into the battlefield before."

Since planning, building, embellishing, thickening the system of national border milestones and protecting borderline and milestones, on the path of performing the tasks, the two sides have often shared weal and woe, nurtured solidarity.

“The coordination to protect the borderline and milestones is of primary importance, making many positive changes. The situation of political security, social order and safety in the border area between both sides has been kept stable," said Colonel Le Van Nguyen, Party Committee Secretary and Political Commissar of the Provincial Border Army.

The officers of A Dot Border Gate Guard Station and the Self-managing Team of A Tin Hamlet, Lam Dot Commune both patrolled and cleared the borderline and milestones

Quietly patrolling

In order to be more aware of the border guards’ hardship, sacrifice and silent feats, we decided to follow the working group of A Dot BGGS on patrol to protect the border. This time, they marched to the location of the national milestone 663 on the Vietnam-Laos borderline, the section through the province, where is considered the most difficult and arduous among the milestones.

At the crack of dawn, the forest was in dense fog. Although about ten meters apart, we could not see the people ahead. We set off. Everyone was equipped with a backpack with a mess kit of cooked rice, canteen of water, Truong Son sticks, shoes, and anti-insect stockings called sà cạp by the border guards.

The section of the track through the forest to the border milestone area is only more than a dozen kilometers long, but the mountain track is rugged. The force had to set off early to avoid unexpected forest rains.

Back to the forest within less than 1km, we immediately saw a steep and looming slope ahead that the locals called the Wind Slope. This was the most difficult section on the patrol path. The higher we climbed, the steeper the slope was.

The sun on La Tung's peak was also the time when the patrol team reached the position of the middle milestone 663. The ritual of greeting the milestone was solemnly and sacredly performed in the border mountains and forests of the Fatherland, what not everyone has the opportunity to perceive.

Major Tran Quoc Toan, Deputy Commissar of A Dot BGGS, Head of the patrol team said that the unit is responsible for managing and protecting 10 national milestones, including 1 major milestone and 7 minor milestones stretching over nearly 20km of the borderline adjacent to Ka Lum District, Se Kong Province, Laos.

Every month, the unit organizes its patrol teams to defend all the milestones managed by the unit. In many patrols, the forest rain flooded all trails and rock streams, forcing officers and soldiers to hang hammocks on forest trees to avoid flooding. Raincoats, hammocks… are indispensable luggage in their backpacks...

To ensure the management and protection of the borderline and milestones, to grasp the peripheral situation, they have to climb passes, wade streams, cross mountains, forests and endure the rain and wind, sometimes for weeks on end in the borderline adjacent to the provinces of Salavan and Se Kong (Laos). Meals are sometimes only instant noodles, forest bulbs, forest vegetables...

Major Tran Quoc Toan said that each border milestone is also a solid symbol of the solidarity and undissolvable friendship between the two Parties, two States and two peoples of Vietnam - Laos in general, as well as the solidarity and friendship between the two provinces of Thua Thien Hue and Se Kong in particular.

The Vietnam-Laos borderline running through the province is 84 km long, with 37 milestones covering 2 major milestones, 8 average milestones, 27 minor milestones and 7 seal piles managed and protected by 4 mountain border guard units. These units include A Dot BGGS, Hong Van BGGS, Nham Border Guard Station, Huong Nguyen Border Gate Guard Station.

Story and photos: BA TRI