Nearly 250 nautical miles away from the mainland, Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago consists of more than 100 islands, shoals, coral dunes, and underwater islets.
The Truong Sa archipelago is an inseparable part of Vietnam. Soldiers stationed on the archipelago have devoted themselves to safeguarding national sovereignty.
Anyone who visits Truong Sa will remember sunburnt faces and happy eyes of soldiers as they welcome mainlanders to the islands and the emotional moments when they have to say goodbye.
Most soldiers are young but they all have love for the country’s sea and islands. During their spare time, the soldiers like to sit together to play guitar, sing songs praising the homeland’s sea and islands as a way to fight their homesickness.
Vi Thanh Trung Dong, a soldier stationed in Co Lin Island said he will devote his youth and enthusiasm to safeguarding the nation.
For soldiers safeguarding the Truong Sa archipelago, discipline is important. Solidarity has also helped them with harsh weather. With their efforts, the islands have been renovated, covered by the green bang vuong (Square-fruit Malabar Almond), phong ba (Old-aged Heliotropium foertherianum) and numerous vegetables. A number of works such as lighthouse stations and wind-solar energy system have also been created.
In Song Tu Tay Island, there is a 36m lighthouse navigating vessels when they travel through the area of reefs and shoals.
The south central meteorological observation station on the island provides data on the weather for the mainland to ensure accurate weather forecast.
The island is also a shelter for fishing vessels and fishermen in case of heavy storm.
Fruits and vegetables are rare and precious on Truong Sa. Due to harsh natural conditions, soldiers have to take soil from the mainland for cultivation. Trees commonly planted on the island include Square-fruit Malabar Almond trees, coconuts and bananas.
Given fresh water shortages, the soldiers try to protect the trees from sea winds and save each drop for watering. With their spirit and lovingly care, gardens of vegetables are green, helping provide soldiers with healthy meals.
Despite difficulties, Truong Sa soldiers are prepared to defend the sovereign integrity of the homeland’s sea and islands. For them, it is an honourable mission always burning in their hearts. All of them, from the very young privates to veteran officers, are determined to safeguard national sovereignty over the sea and islands.
Truong Sa soldiers also accompany fishermen all day and night.
In Vietnamese’s mind, Truong Sa is associated with not only raging waves and whirlwinds, but also the image of soldiers who have devoted their youth to protecting the country’s territory.