Thanh Nien newspaper and a group of local philanthropists on Tuesday (May 15) held a meeting with the families of 10 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed during a Chinese attack on Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef or Chigua Reef) a larger Spratly island, 24 years ago.
During a meeting with the martyrs' families in Da Nang, representatives from Thanh Nien newspaper, the Vietnam Rubber Group, the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) and Duong Minh Lieu (a Ho Chi Minh City philanthropist) presented cash and gifts to the families.
On March 14, 1988, Chinese soldiers launched a blatant military attack on Gac Ma, Len Dao (Lansdowne Reef) and Co Lin (Johnson North/Collins Reef) of Vietnam as part of a flagrant plot to seize the Truong Sa (Spratly Islands) and control the entire East Sea.
Sixty-four Vietnamese soldiers sacrificed their lives defending the islands.
Thanks to their brave resistance, Vietnam maintained its sovereignty over Len Dao and Co Lin. China occupied the Gac Ma.
In 1994 China made a similar play for Mischief Reef which, at that time, belonged to the Philippines. The Philippine Navy opted to avoid confrontation-a decision that was partially based on the losses Vitnam sustained during the battle for Gac Ma.
Of the 64 Vietnamese soldiers lost during the bloody naval battle, only four bodies have been returned to the bereaved families.
During their meetings with Thanh Nien, the bereaved family members expressed their ultimate wish to recover their sons' remains.
Thanh Nien newspaper will continue to meet with the families who now live in cities and provinces across the country, to commemorate their sacrifices.