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Kinmen Self-defense Team Was Once Reputed for the Military Parade on National Day

Kinmen Self-defense Team Was Once Reputed for the Military Parade on National Day
Reporter: Syu Jyun-Kuei/Special Report
On every National Day, the parade takes place at the plaza in front of the Office of the President. In addition to students showing their vigor and private groups presenting cultural and creative performances, the military honor guard catches people’s eyes most. Back in the 1960s and 1970s when the martial law was enforced, all citizens in Kinmen were soldiers. In addition to the military, the female members of the Kinmen Self-defense Team from the battlefront trotted and paraded by the rostrum of the Presidential Office Building on every National Day, which was one of the highlights that caught people’s eyes at that time. Twenty or thirty years later, the once young female members of the Kinmen Self-defense Team have now become mothers and even grandmothers. Recalling the training at that time, "It’s really tough”, said these female members.

According to the introduction in the Qionglin Civil Defense Exhibition Hall, a separate legal system under military administration was implemented in Kinmen at that time because Kinmen was a battlefield. According to the related civil defense regulations, male citizens whose permanent residences were registered in Kinmen and Matsu were not required to serve in the army except for volunteers; however, those aged 16~55 who passed the physical examination would be drafted into Class B militiamen and trained as the members of the civil-defense team to perform tasks that supported battles; female citizens would be drafted into the women’s team at the age of 16 to perform tasks related to rescue, medical treatment and battle support until getting married; female workers would be drafted into the self-defense teams of the units where they worked. According to the regulations at that time, all female members of the self-defense team should serve until the age of 50.
When there were tensions and crises across the Strait, all citizens in Kinmen, including women, were required to serve in the army and trained as the members of the self-defense team. To parade in front of nationals on October 10th, the National Day of the Republic of China, the chosen female members had to participate in the intensive training with the male members for two months. As a proverb goes, “one minute on stage is the result of ten years of practice.” When being asked about the training at that time in an interview with other members, the chairwoman of the National Day Military Parade Self-defense Team Association, Hong Yan-Yu (vice chairperson of Lieyu Township Elected Representatives), who used to be a member of the Kinmen Self-defense Team in the military parade on National Day, said without thinking that the training was “tough.” As time passed, the bitter memories about the training at that time gradually turned sweet.
Starting from 1973, representatives in Kinmen were appointed to attend the military parade on National Day in Taiwan. Lin Jin-Dou, who once served as the deputy squadron leader, had attended seven military parades on National Day since her first attendance at the age of 25. After attending the military parade on National Day in 1984, she was awarded a certificate of recognition by the county magistrate then. Lin Jin-Dou said that the members of the female military parade team were mostly chosen from public agencies, were all unmarried, and had to be a certain height. The training was not tense but tough because all members had to be trained under the scorching sun, which made them drenched in sweat. During the training, everyone lived in a dorm together. Every year, the training started on August 23rd and ended on October 10th without any holiday; the training took place at today’s cadre training venue and in Taipei. After waking up every day, all members had to run along Tai Lake like soldiers. Members often fatigued and fainted.
Liou Ai-Jhih, who once performed the bayonet drill in 1974, said that the members of the Kinmen Women’s Self-defense Team had to wear a Fascist hat, white gloves, riding boots, a green uniform, a S belt, and a bayonet. Among all teams, the Kinmen Self-defense Team stood out because of unique Fascist hats.
During the two-month training, female members were trained from scratch. Chairwoman Hong Yan-Yu said that all freshmen barely knew how to stand at attention or at ease or make turns and often hit each other, resulting in more training hours than those of general soldiers. Hong Yan-Yu recalled that everyone had a difficult time during the training. When members saluted, they had to keep their arms straight, or the instructors would hit their elbows directly with a stick.
Syu You-Shu was in the forefront of the team at that time. In addition to the general training, she said that those standing in the forefront of the team had to be trained even in rainy days and until 9 p.m.; the instructors would threaten that no food would be offered if these members did not practice well. At night, these members had to guard by turns. Some members fatigued and fainted during the training. In addition, members only had five minutes to take a shower. Members lived like soldiers and were also required to sing military songs when running.
Syu You-Shu said that only those attending the training knew such sufferings like keeping short hair, sleeping in a dorm, taking a quick shower, and folding a quilt into a square; what’s worse, there was lack of supplies in Kinmen at the time; the members took a shower using cold turbid water even in the menstrual period. There were even mosquito larvae in water.
Hong Yan-Yu added that the members had to act like men and guarded by turns at night. The life was tough and stressful every day. When patrolling, she once heard members sobbing secretly at night.
It was not easy to go to Taiwan after the training. At the end of September, the members had to leave for Kaohsiung by warship and then took a slow train to Taipei with their quilts, military rugs, toiletries, and guns, weighing 25 kg in total.
These once young ladies are now 50 or 60 years old, but the past is still fresh in their memories. Hong Yan-Yu said that she would like to show her children the prestigious presence of the Kinmen Self-defense Team in front of the rostrum at that time. She also considered gathering the original members to have a small parade in Kinmen on next New Year's Day or National Day. Last, the members hoped to establish a Kinmen self-defense museum to retain many valuable records.
Since 1975, the Kinmen Self-defense Team had attended the military parade on National Day until 1987. Every year, a total of 400 male and female members aged 16~35 were chosen to parade in the National Day ceremony, catching the eyes of guests at home and abroad.

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  • Date:2017-12-19