A memorial service for 64 officers and soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Navy who were killed in a battle against Chinese forces to protect Gac Ma Island, part of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago, in 1988, was held in a sea area of Truong Sa on Tuesday. The sea area covers three islands: Gac Ma, Co Lin, and Len Dao.
The service was attended by naval officials, relatives of the 64 fallen combatants, and a delegation of overseas Vietnamese who returned from more than 20 countries around the world.
Notably, the relatives of those officers and soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam Navy (the naval forces of the South Vietnam administration before 1975) who died while fighting Chinese troops to protect Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago on January 19, 1974 also partook in the event.
Colonel Vu Huy Le, a naval officer who survived the battle on Gac Ma Island on March 14, 1988, and a number of relatives of the naval officers and soldiers of the South Vietnam administration before 1975, along with some others were the first attendees who dropped floating lanterns into the sea and lit incense sticks in memory of the 64 Gac Ma heroes.
Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Thanh Son narrated the tragic but heroic battle against Chinese invaders on Gac Ma Island in 1988.
He also told the delegation of overseas Vietnamese that the Party, State and Vietnam People’s Army have been, and will be, determined to protect the country’s territorial sovereignty.
Son attached great importance to overseas Vietnamese’s support for the protection of that sovereignty.
The diplomat insisted that Vietnam can one day recover its sovereignty over the seas and islands that have been occupied illegally by foreign forces with the unanimity and determination of the entire Vietnamese people.
The presence of the relatives of those officers and soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam Navy who were killed in the 1974 battle is the manifestation of a national unity spirit, Son said.
At 6:30 pm yesterday, the participating overseas Vietnamese dropped wreaths and more than 1,000 floating lanterns into the sea in commemoration of the fallen.