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27/11/2020 - 08:43

The soldier’s shoulders

The mother of the martyr who just died in the operation at Rao Trang 3 Hydropower Plant (Phong Xuan, Phong Dien, Thua Thien Hue) leaned on the shoulder of Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong. The shoulders of a soldier are strong and loving enough to support those with the most extreme pain...

Returning to sub-zone 67 to find teammates

After the meeting to discuss the search and rescue plan for workers who are still missing due to landslides at Rao Trang 3 Hydropower Plant, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong, Commander of the Provincial Military Command with his teammates in the unit went to visit the families of martyrs who died in the march to Rao Trang 3 on October 13. Respectfully lighting up the incense, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong secretly promised to continue carrying out the duties of the comrades who had fallen for the People.

Heavy hearted for the people

More than twenty years ago, when he was the platoon leader of the 8th Platoon (Battalion 1, Regiment 176, stationed in Phu Bai town, Huong Thuy district - now Huong Thuy town), Lieutenant Ngo Nam Cuong was with the other soldiers in rescuing efforts during the great flood of 1999. He was still in pain when he described the houses submerged in flood water, people's hands stuck in them, poking out on the roof in panic, calling for help.

The fences made the canoes unable to approach. Diving through the door to enter the houses was not safe. “But in front of us were the People. At all costs, we must bring people out of danger. We decided to tie the rope to our body, dived through the door, put tools into the house, cut the roof frame, and opened the way for the people to escape ”- Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong recalled.

Just like that until it got dark, in the middle of the immense sea of water, they scanned through each neighborhood, using loudspeakers to call "Is anyone there?" to make sure no one was left behind.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong (second, right) instructing people to overcome floods and storms

The flooding in 1999 severely damaged Thua Thien Hue, leaving 373 dead and 200 missing. “The scene of people terrified, helplessly watching the floodwater washing away all their possessions, was very painful. I was heartbroken. When we rescued them and had taken them to a safe place, many people pleaded “there are still pigs and chicken in our house. If those pigs and chicken are lost…”.

We said "please rest assured", then tried to swim back to save pigs and chickens for the people,”  Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong was still full of emotions when he recounted the people's losses and hardships during the flood twenty years ago.

With his compassion, when returning to Vinh Hien commune (Phu Loc district) to help the people overcome the floods, Lieutenant Ngo Nam Cuong and his teammates left hoes and shovels to carefully dig mud and sand by hand, to "save" intact each set of deeply buried nets for the fishermen.

Deeply understanding that, it was all the property that was left for the fishermen to start restoring production, so even if it took 2-3 days to "save" a net set and even though their hands were blistering, they still carried out the task.

“The most heartbreaking moment was when we were digging, looking for 4 people in a family in Phu Loc town, buried by landslides. When found, all 4 people were killed. The loss was too great. It was too devastating.”

Because of the pain and the loss that people suffer from natural disasters, in his experience with many positions, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong was on tenterhooks of the "story" of natural disaster prevention and control, to safely protect the people's lives and property.

In 2015, when he was the Commander of Hue City's Military Headquarters, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong proposed to build an assault militia force, to prevent natural disasters and floods. The force was trained and equipped with essential skills and was put into effective use in a number of missions.

Continuing the work of teammates who have sacrificed

In the position of Commander of the Provincial Military Headquarters, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong and the Provincial Military Party Committee led and directed the subordinate units to develop plans, forces, and means, ready to participate in implementing preventative measures at all times and at any place. This was determined the mission of "fighting in peacetime", with the order of "the People comes first". Even with sacrifices, they were determined to protect the people's lives and property.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong (outermost, left) presenting relief goods to people in flood areas

So, on October 12, 2020, in the complicated situation of typhoons and floods, there were reports of workers missing due to landslides at Rao Trang 3 Hydropower Project (Phong Xuan commune, Phong Dien district. ), Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong was extremely impatient: “Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Phan Thien Dinh said, one person called and was cut off halfway. He called back many times but was not able to connect. At that time it was not known exactly yet how many people were missing. I was a bundle of nerves.”

The Commander of the Provincial Military Headquarters reported to Major General Nguyen Van Man, Deputy Commander of Military Region 4, who was present at that time to assist Thua Thien Hue in coping with storms and floods.

“Major General Nguyen Van Man told us to halt support operations and that rescue was the priority. The people needed us and every hour, every minute was precious. No matter how difficult it was, we had to go, even if we die.” Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong recalled.

Following the sacred orders, 21 officers and soldiers of the Provincial Military Headquarters, Military Region 4, the Ministry of Defense, the Provincial People's Committee and Phong Dien District People's Committee immediately marched to Rao Trang 3.

In heavy rain, wading through high-rise, fast-flowing dams, wading in the knee-length mud, with stones cutting and tearing their legs bloody, they still persisted. Because the people were in need, they still moved on, even if it was dangerous. Thirteen officers and soldiers were buried by a landslide in the tragic operation. Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong was one of eight people who escaped death.

“Many comrades suffered both physical and psychological injuries. I am also among them having directly witnessed my leader and teammates in distress, and missing in the landslide. However, with the responsibility of being a revolutionary soldier, a party member, a commander, I cannot fall down now. I need to be calm and steady, to quickly find my comrades,”- The Commander of the Military Headquarters said quietly.

Therefore, as soon as he returned from the line of life and death, the Commander of the Provincial Military Headquarters, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong was present at the Forward Command Headquarters (located at the People's Committee of Phong Xuan commune, Phong Dien district) to join the forces to discuss and deploy a plan. On October 15, he returned to sub-zone 67 to find his comrades.

The bodies of the martyrs – of his teammates have returned home. But there are still 12 missing workers who have yet to be found. In the middle of the chaos of work, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong came to light the soul incense for the martyrs.

He held the hands of the martyr Major Ton That Bao Phuc's father: “We are soldiers. The previous one fell, the next still charge on. If we falter, who will take care of the people? Now, parents of the 12 missing workers and the people of the country are anxiously waiting every day. We will steadfastly continue the sacrifices of our comrades and complete the sacred tasks that they left unfinished."

The martyr's mother leaned on the shoulder of Senior Lieutenant Colonel Ngo Nam Cuong, the leader and comrade of her son who died in peacetime for the people. The shoulders of a soldier are strong and the heart loving enough to support and relieve the most extreme pain...

Story: QUYNH ANH - Photos: provided by Provincial Military Headquarters

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