A surviving Republic of China (ROC) Army veteran of a major battle fought off eastern China almost six decades ago has finally settled down in Taiwan.
Chen Hsiao-pin (陳小斌), a sergeant when he took part in the Battle of Yijiangshan Islands in 1955, registered at the Wenshan District (文山) Household Registration Office in Taipei City yesterday, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said.
“Chen will be temporarily placed at a veterans’ home in New Taipei City (新北市),” a ministry spokesman said, adding that Chen has no relatives in Taiwan.
Chen, who had lived in China since the 1955 battle after being taken prisoner by Chinese forces, arrived in Taipei from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Tuesday.
Army commander Yang Tien-hsiao (楊天嘯) was among the ranking military officers on hand to greet him on behalf of the military and he conveyed his appreciation for Chen’s sacrifice to the nation.
The 78-year-old veteran, who lost his right eye in the battle over the former ROC outpost just off the Zhejiang coast, managed to rise from his wheelchair to return the salute he was given, and his left eye filled with tears.
Chen said that during the heavy fire between the ROC Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), his right eye and feet were seriously injured and he lost consciousness.
He was later picked up and sent to Xiamen for medical treatment by the PLA when they cleared the battlefield.
He was then sent for labor education at a Shanxi coal mine and continued to work there until his retirement.
He applied to settle in Taiwan last year through the son of an old comrade who had arrived in Taiwan earlier and the ministry approved his application after verifying his prisoner of war status through the Straits Exchange Foundation.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported that although the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government claimed that all of its servicemen on the islands had perished in the battle, the ministry had finally set the record straight that some of the soldiers were actually captured and held as prisoners at the time.
More than 130 servicemen who fought in the battle have moved to Taiwan in recent years, the paper said.
The uninhabited Yijiangshan Islands, covering only 1.2km2, were held by anti-Communist guerrillas after KMT forces lost China’s civil war in 1949.
Because of its strategic importance, Brigadier General Wang Sheng-ming (王生明) was sent to train and command a 1,000--member force on the islands, which included the guerrillas.
However, the PLA launched a combined strike against Yijiangshan from land, sea and air on Jan. 18, 1955, and defeated the forces stationed there after a fierce 61-hour battle in which Wang killed himself.
The battle made the ROC government recognize that it could not retain islands it held off the -Zhejiang coast and it worked with US naval forces to evacuate more than 30,000 military servicemen and civilians to Taiwan.