Nguyễn Thiện – We need to honor the sons of Vietnam who lost their lives in the battle for the Paracel Islands in 1974

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Vietnamese News. Translating into English. Members Of Dan Luan News On Line

From Hữu Nguyên Blog

English Version by TM1111



Nguyễn Thiện is the founder of the online contest “Our People Should Know Our History”.

Honoring the sons of Vietnam who sacrificed their lives during the Paracels battle of 1974 will prove that our country belongs to all the sons and daughters of Vietnam. It will do justice to history, promote patriotism and the willingness to defend the country, and will be an important breakthrough in reconciliation of past conflicts among the Vietnamese people.

These days, in face of China’s sneaky and aggressive strategy to take over the East Sea, the defense of the country and its sovereignty must be an order to all Vietnamese, whether they live in Vietnam or abroad. More than ever before, solidarity among the Vietnamese people has become a burning point of focus, for it is only with the spirit of unity at Diên Hồng from our glorious past will we gather sufficient strength to break any and all outsiders’ plots and ruses aimed at our country.

Properly honoring the sons of Vietnam who sacrificed their lives in the battle for the Paracel Islands in 1974, most notably among them Lieutenant Commander Ngụy Văn Thà, commanding officer of the patrol craft escort (PCE) (1) Nhật Tảo HQ 10, would be the most important breakthrough to reconcile past conflicts and bring the Vietnamese together as a united people. Not only is this a significant act to thwart the threat of foreign aggression, but it will also be a significant boost to our country’s reconstruction and development efforts.

Lieutenant Commander Ngụy Văn Thà (1943-1974) was born on January 16, 1943, in Trảng Bàng, Tây Ninh. On January 18, 1974, under his command, the patrol craft escort Nhật Tảo HQ-10 was patrolling in the Đà Nẵng coastal territory when it suddenly received order to head straight to the Paracel Islands, where the VNN (2) forces on duty in the area were being provoked and threatened by Chinese planes and warships. At 10:22 a.m. on January 19, 1974, the Battle of the Paracel Islands between the Vietnamese and Chinese naval forces broke out. Two Chinese battleships, the 389 and 396, concurrently attacked the Vietnamese flagship, the patrol cruiser Lý Thường Kiệt HQ-16. The HQ-10 headed by Lieutenant Commander Ngụy Văn Thà instantly joined force. It opened fire and hit the command bridge of the 389, putting her engine compartment on fire, thus damaging and putting it out of action. The Chinese battleships 389 and 396 turned their aim at the HQ-10 and opened fire. The Chinese shelling hit the HQ-10 in her gun deck and her command bridge, heavily injuring her captain Ngụy Văn Thà and her deputy commander Nguyễn Thành Trí, and breaking her steering wheel. The HQ-10 became disabled and floated helplessly, as did the 389 from the Chinese side.

Seeing the damage to the ship, her captain, Ngụy Văn Thà, ordered evacuation. However, some of his crew voluntarily remained with their commanding officer to continue firing at the Chinese ships. Both the 389 and 396 were heavily damaged by gunfire from the HQ-10. The 389 was beached on a coral island, and the 396 was put out of combat action because her engine compartment was hit hard. At 11:49 on January 19, 1974, two more Chinese warships, the 281 and 282, arrived in the Paracel Island area and opened fire at the HQ-10. The HQ-10 sank with its captain Ngụy Văn Thà and his crew at 2.5 knots south of the Antelope Reef. At 14:52 on January 19, 1974, Ngụy Văn Thà perished, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. He was 31 years old.

According to survivors of the Nhật Tảo HQ-10, when the patrol craft escort sustained heavy damage, twenty-eight sailors were instructed to evacuate on rafts. They floated in rough waters for 78 hours, during which six of them died from exhaustion or from serious injuries, including deputy commander Nguyễn Thành Trí. On the afternoon of January 22, 1974, they were rescued by the Kopionella, a Shell oil tanker carrying the flag of the Netherlands. Another sailor died from exhaustion during the rescue.

When I shared my idea of honoring Captain Ngụy Văn Thà and those that sacrificed their lives in the sea battle of the Paracels, historian Dương Trung Quốc, general secretary of the Vietnam Historical Science Association, thought that it would be a great way of sharing the pain and glory with fellow Vietnamese, and, if made official into a government decision, the act would be a breakthrough in reconciliation of past conflicts among the Vietnamese. He added, “Ten years ago, when the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences conducted an archaeological research project on the Paracels, the then deputy prime minister Vũ Khánh came to the closing ceremony. I took the opportunity to ask him what we should think about, and whether we should honor the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) soldiers who died in defense of Vietnam’s sovereignty on the Paracel Islands in 1974. Mr. Khanh said that the country is indeed indebted to those soldiers. He did not think it would be right to recognize them as heroes of the VPA (Vietnam People’s Army); however, it would be a good idea to honor them in a temple according to Vietnamese traditions. Mr. Quốc also said that the idea should be initiated by Đà Nẵng, as the Paracels belong to Đà Nẵng.”

Honoring the sons of Vietnam who sacrificed their lives during the Paracels battle of 1974 will prove that our country belongs to all the sons and daughters of Vietnam. It will do justice to history, promote patriotism and the willingness to defend the country, and will be an important breakthrough in reconciliation of past conflicts among the Vietnamese people.

Nguyễn Thiện


Nhóm No-U Sài Gòn tri ân những người lính hy sinh trong trận Hải chiến Hoàng Sa 1974.

Notes:

1.

In an article by Wikipedia recounting the battle of the Paracel Island, the Nhật Tảo HQ-10 was referred to as a corvette, and the other three VNN battleships were described as frigates – by ship category ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Paracel_Islands). However, from other Vietnamese and American military sources, the ships were referred to as follows - by their function:

HQ-4: Destroyer Escort Tran-Khanh-Du HQ-4 (ex-USS Forster, DER-334)
HQ-5: Patrol Cruiser Tran-Binh-Trong HQ-5 (ex-USCG Castle Rock, WHEC-383)
HQ-10: Patrol Craft Nhat-Tao HQ-10 (ex-USS Serene AM-300)
HQ-16: Patrol Cruiser Ly-Thuong-Kiet HQ-16 (ex US Coast Guard Cutter Chicoteague WHEC-375)

http://pcf45.com/cosgrp16/cosgrp16.html

http://www.vietquoc.com/hoangsa.htm

2.

VNN: Vietnam Navy, from South Vietnam, who had sovereignty of the Paracel and the Spratly Islands in 1974, as differentiated from the VPN (Vietnam People’s Navy - from North Vietnam)

Tâm Như gửi hôm Chủ Nhật, 03/02/2013
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