Le Xuan Phat, the first man to hoist Liberation flag on Song Tu Tay island
Saturday, April 28, 2012
(VOVworld) - Song Tu Tay island is one of 3 communes and townships of Truong Sa island district. This was also the first island of Truong Sa archipelago to be liberated by Liberation soldiers on April 14th in Ho Chi Minh campaign in 1975. On the occasion of 37th anniversary of Liberation of the South and National Reunification, our reporter Mai Lan met with warrant officer Le Xuan Phat who was the first one to hoist the flag on Song Tu Tay island.
The HQ 996 ship docked at the island on a sunny day. People on board were mostly youngsters who have never visited Truong Sa island. The ship horn signaled the start of the trip.
From the corner of the ship, one old man with pepper and salt hair was looking silently at trains of waves flapping to the boat sides. That was warrant officer Le Xuan Phat. This was the first time he returned to the island since he hoisted the first liberation flag there 37 years ago: "I’m lucky and moved to be on this trip. For long time, I desired to return to Truong Sa again and this time, my dream has come true".
Joining in the army at the age of 19, with his dynamism, good health and swimming skill, Private 1st class soldier Le Xuan Phat was sent to be trained as a naval sapper. The training course was so tough and required him to exert his best efforts. In 1975, Le Xuan Phat who then belonged to battalion 861 of the Naval Arm was ordered to fight in the Southern battlefield. When docking at Da Nang port, did he realize the task to liberate Truong Sa: "We arrived in Da Nang at 4.30 a.m on April 14th, 1975. We were ordered to define the objective and anchored. We then got on the island by rubber boat".
The force was divided into 4 groups and got to the island from 4 directions. Besides fighting, Le Xuan Phat was also assigned a challenging task: to hoist the Liberation Army’s flag in Song Tu Tay island: "I was assigned the task to raise the flag to signal that we have conquered the island. I also had to talk through a loud speaker to encourage the invaders to surrender. After the fighting on the island started with a gun shot, I got access to the flag pole. The fighting ended around 15 to 20 minutes later".
Some minutes after the flag was hoisted on the island, all the soldiers of the Southern army occupied the island surrendered.
After finishing his task on Truong Sa archipelago, warrant officer Le Xuan Phat fought in Cambodian battlefields for many years. He left the army in 1988. Visiting the island after 37 years, veteran Le Xuan Phat could not repress his feelings: "The island has changed a lot after 37 years. It now looks like a beautiful floating eco- tourism city. Everything has changed".
The island seems to more beautiful on these April days with the blue sea water, green trees and the blue shirts of those soldiers who are stationed here to defend the national sovereignty.