Overseas Vietnamese Commemorate Gac Ma Fallen Soldiers

March 14 exactly 35 years ago, 64 soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Navy laid down their lives defending national sovereignty in Truong Sa.

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Oversea Vietnamese in Thailand join a requiem to commemorate the 64 naval officers and soldiers who laid down their lives while defending Gac Ma Reef in Vietnam's Truong Sa in 1988. Photo: VNA
Oversea Vietnamese in Thailand join a requiem to commemorate the 64 naval officers and soldiers who laid down their lives while defending Gac Ma Reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa in 1988. Photo: VNA

The Vietnamese Association in Thailand’s Udon Thani province on March 14 held a ceremony to commemorate 64 naval officers and soldiers who laid down their lives while defending Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa in 1988 as well as heroic martyrs who sacrificed for the Fatherland and those who died of natural disasters and pandemics, according to VNA.

The event, held at Khanh An Pagoda, a Vietnamese pagoda in the northeastern province of Thailand, saw the participation of former Vice State President Truong My Hoa who is also head of the “For Beloved Hoang Sa and Truong Sa” Club.

Since 2016, the Vietnamese community in Udon Thani has annually held such a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 64 fallen soldiers in the Gac Ma battle. It is also an occasion for overseas Vietnamese there to unite together and look towards the homeland.

This is the eighth consecutive year such a requiem has been held by the Vietnamese association in Udon Thani province. Photo: VNA
This is the eighth consecutive year such a requiem has been held by the Vietnamese association in Udon Thani province. Photo: VNA

Luong Xuan Hoa, Chairman of the Vietnamese Association in Udon Thani, said that remembering the sacrifice of heroes and martyrs, younger generations always respect them and continue protecting the sacred sea and islands of the country.

Earlier, on March 13, more than THB10,000 (USD 3,000) was raised by overseas Vietnamese in Thailand’s Udon Thani province for the Vu A Dinh Scholarship Fund and its “For beloved Hoang Sa-Truong Sa” Club at a ceremony in the locality.

At the event, former Vice President Truong My Hoa, who is President of the Vu A Dinh Scholarship Fund, handed over a decision recognising the Vietnamese Association in Udon Thani as a club member and membership certificates to 33 OVs living in the locality.

Hoa expressed her belief that the Vietnamese community in Udon Thani in particular and in Thailand in general will promote their role as “extension arms” of the club.

On this occasion, the Vu A Dinh Scholarship Fund – the “For beloved Hoang Sa-Truong Sa” Club donated USD 10,000 to support the Vietnamese language teaching and learning program of the Vietnamese community in Udon Thani; and presented certificates of merit to overseas Vietnamese teachers who have made great contributions to the movement.

Overseas Vietnamese Commemorate Gac Ma Fallen Soldiers
The requiem reminds youths about Vietnam’s indisputable sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos. Photo: VNA

Meanwhile, a requiem also was held at Phat Tich pagoda in Vientiane in remembrance of the 64 soldiers who laid down their lives defending Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) in 1988.

The event saw the participation of former Vice President Truong My Hoa, Ambassador, Buddhist monks and followers, the Vietnamese community, and a large number of students who are living and studying there.

Addressing the ceremony, Hoa spoke highly of the sacrifice by the martyrs and called on younger generations to bear in mind what the martyrs have done for them.

Venerable Thich Minh Quang, Head of the Coordinating Committee of Vietnamese Buddhism in Laos, said the youngsters should uphold the tradition of firmly defending the Fatherland.

On March 14, 1988, the 64 naval soldiers of Vietnam fell down while standing in a circle defending the national flag planted on the Gac Ma Reef and affirming the country’s sea and island sovereignty.

Their brave deaths were honored with a monument named “Nhung nguoi nam lai phia chan troi” (Those who laid down their lives on the horizon) at the Gac Ma soldier memorial site.

Hannah Nguyen