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Old Veteran Losing Eyesight during 823 Artillery Battle Back in Kinmen to Mourn His Comrades

Old Veteran Losing Eyesight during 823 Artillery Battle Back in Kinmen to Mourn His Comrades
Sep. 1, 2016
By Chen Guanlin, reported from Jinhu

“Lieutenant, I’m back,” said the 85-year-old Lin Delu from Meishan, Chiayi who lost his eyesight during the 823 Artillery Battle but has never forgotten his lieutenant “Fu Guofang who was killed in the bombardment. 58 years later, Lin Delu gathered up his courage and revisited Kinmen to pay homage to his fellow combatant. Touching Fu Guofang’s tombstone with his hand, he broke down in tears. At long last, he was able to release the painful memory he had kept for nearly six decades.

58 years ago (1958), Lin Delu was a 27-year-old young man serving in the 123rd Regiment of the 41st Division of the Army stationed in Kinmen (around Gugang today). The 823 Artillery Battle had already started. In November that year, Lin Delu and his comrades were setting up artillery positions when they were attacked by bombardments from the Communists. It was only one month before his honorable discharge, but he lost his eyesight and the hearing of his right ear and had to be rushed to the hospital. However, his lieutenant who took good care of him wasn’t so lucky and was killed on the spot

Lin Delu was flown back to Taiwan and it took him one year to recover. Life could never be the same after he lost his vision, but he and his wife supported each other. They lived in a farming village in his hometown Meishan in Chiayi and had six children. Professor Wang Qiongling, who happened to be from Meishan as well, of the Department of Chinese Literature of National Chung Cheng University heard about his story this year and started to write it down. She also learned that Lin Delu had never stopped thinking about the lieutenant who was killed’ Therefore, she asked the Kinmen Defense Command to help find the tomb of the lieutenant or any information about him. The only clue was the name of Fu Guofang that Lin Delu said with a heavy Taiwanese accent and therefore was difficult to pinpoint.

Having only the unclear pronunciation of the name, the personnel of the Kinmen Defense Command sought through the archives for possible information and finally found a tombstone with the inscription of the name Fu Guofang in the Armed Forces Cemetery in Taiwu Mountain. Records showed that he was killed by the explosion of a bomb shot by the Communists when he serving in the 123rd Regiment of the 41ste Division of the Army and was in charge of Cannon No. 75 which was just about to fire.

When the news of finding the tomb of the lieutenant reached Chiayi, Lin Delu was almost unable to control his emotions. He wanted to pay a visit to Kinmen to mourn his old comrade but was at the same time afraid of touching the deepest and the most painful memory in his mind. After receiving an invitation from the Kinmen Defense Command and persuasion from his family telling him that returning to Kinmen could help him overcome his fear from becoming disabled in a battle while he could also see his fellow combatant once again, Lin Delu finally agree to visit Kinmen again.

The 85-year-old Lin Delu has flown only twice in his life. The first time was when he was sent back to Taiwan for emergency care after the injury and the second time was returning to Kinmen. On the 30th, accompanied by his wife, daughter, a grandchild and Professor Wang Qiongling, he arrived at the 823 Artillery Battle Museum. Touching the stone tablet inscribed with the name of Fu Guofang, he broke down in tears and his grief for his comrade for nearly 60 years was all released at that moment. Yesterday (the 31st) when the Kinmen Defense Command held the “Memorial Service to Mark the 58th Anniversary of the 823 Artillery Battle and to Commemorate the soldiers Killed in the Battle”, Lin Delu arrived at the Taiwu Mountain Cemetery. Supported by his daughter, he squatted down, touched the tombstone of Lieutenant Fu Guofang and placed some flowers in front of the tomb to pay respects to his lieutenant. He even sang a military song. Lin Delu said that he was very grateful that Fu Guofang had looked after him and he had never thought he would ever be able to pay respects to his old superior in Kinmen. He cherished the opportunity. He was happy and felt honored. He hoped the lieutenant could bless him to stay in good health. Professor Wang Qiongling who had spent half year interviewing Lin Delu commented that what impressed her the most was that Lin Delu became disabled when fighting for the country but he had never blamed the country.

The Kinmen Defense Command said that it had been 58 years since the 823 Artillery Battle. 58 years perhaps was just a short moment in history. However, the epic-like heroic, tragic and brutal battle scenes had all been real, and thousands of soldiers like Lin Delu had fought and sacrificed themselves to protect their country and homes. For this reason, the Kinmen Defense Command would continue to hold a memorial service each year to commemorate those killed in the 823 Artillery Battle and invite old veterans as well as military and civilian representatives to return to Kinmen Island to pay homage to those who had sacrificed their lives to guard the peace and safety of the country.

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  • Date:2016-12-08