In the afternoon of the first day of the Lunar New Year (Tet), while spending the holiday in his hometown in Thai Binh province, political commissar Major Mai Van The received a phone call from his chief at the Po Hen border guard post (the northern province of Quang Ninh), ordering him to immediately return to the post.
“Telegrams from the High Command continuously arrived, saying the pandemic situation in China is very tense, and border guard posts need to promptly carry out plans to have the best shield [against the disease]”, The recounted the call from his boss.
Leaving his holiday unfinished, on the second day of Tet, saying goodbye to his family, The quickly returned to his post on the front line of the COVID-19 battle.
Self-commitment to not fall ill or collapse
On the first days of the Lunar New Year, incessant rains and a thick fog blanketed the northern border, making it hard for people to see one another just a few metres away. Muddy roads threatened to undermine people’s determination.
Mai Van The said: “When we guard border trails and crossings well, the COVID-19 pandemic from abroad will be prevented from entering the country. This is the task of fighting against the COVID-19 enemy that we have to perform in peacetime.”
The over-12km-long tortuous border road was a big challenge to soldiers of the Po Hen border guard post. There, they had to take turns to stand guard around the clock regardless the constant rain or the bone-chilling cold on the frontline.
Pointing towards the banks of the Ka Long River, where makeshift huts became dilapidated after a downpour, The said: “In the initial period, we successfully prevented many [illegal entry] cases. That was from the 12th to the 17th day of the first lunar month. There were a large number of informal Vietnamese workers in China. When the disease broke out there, many of them wanted to come home. Many went along border trails or crossings to enter the country illegally.”
In the face of this situation, the border guards have deployed personnel to this side of the bank by the border river and set up dense checkpoints to prevent anyone intending to enter the country illegally.
Relevant forces in China have also ramped up the examination of houses on their side to check whether or not there are illegal Vietnamese workers, and if they find out there are any, those workers will be sent back to Vietnam.
The recalled that there were times the temperature was only 10 degrees Celsius and it rained for over 10 consecutive days, but they still went on patrol with only raincoats and committed themselves to not falling ill or collapse. Now, the Po Hen border guard post is settled and local residents still continue their normal daily lives.
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thanh Le, head of the Po Hen border guard post, said that many of his comrades have had important events or incidents in their families over the last three months, but were unable to go home. Putting their duties above all, they have phoned and encouraged their families to strive to overcome, so that they can focus on the COVID-19 fight and border defense.
To counter the COVID-19 pandemic, under the Party and State’s directions, officers and soldiers of different military units have exerted efforts to weather difficulties and join hands, with forces, authorities and residents on border areas, to fulfill their duties.
But it’s not just The and soldiers at the Po Hen border guard posts fighting the COVID-19 fight. Thousands of people across the S-shaped nation have also been repressing joy and sadness to fulfil their duties, preventing illegal entry and dealing with any problems emerging in border areas.
Postponing weddings and missing funerals to fight the pandemic
Over the last three months, to focus on their tasks on the frontier, many soldiers have had to shelve their personal affairs.
Lieutenant Le Dinh Thanh at the border guard post of the Nam Can International Border Gate, the central province of Nghe An, is a prime example. He had to delay his wedding to perform his tasks.
Thanh said he was very sad but also aware of his duties. He spoke to his fiancée so that she could sympathise with him. He hoped that the “COVID-19 enemy” will be contained soon so they can hold their wedding.
Lieutenant Nguyen Dinh Thong at the Thanh Tri border guard post, the southern province of Long An, had to control the sorrow at his father’s death and being unable to see him for the last time. His colleagues set up a small altar next to their checkpoint for him to worship the deceased father from afar.
According to the Border Guard High Command, its units along the land borderline nationwide have braved harsh weather conditions and numerous difficulties, yet organised thousands of teams with more than 5,000 officers and soldiers to patrol and stand guard on border trails and crossings around the clock.
Border guards have managed and controlled the borderline and border gates to prevent cross-border disease transmission.
Aside from guarding the frontier, they have also actively and proactively disseminated information and instructed locals in COVID-19 prevention and control.
Hundreds of officers, soldiers and students at military schools, along with those guarding the country’s coastline, have also been deployed, under directions of the Border Guard High Command, to key border guard units to engage in the pandemic combat.
A number of them have had to leave aside their personal emotions or affairs to take part in the fight together with their comrades.
The Border Guard High Command reported that since April 3, 64 border guards have had to put aside their personal affairs to join hands in COVID-19 prevention and control. Among them, three were unable to return to attend their relatives’ funerals, 30 had to delay their weddings, and 21 others weren’t on the side of their wives when their babies were born.
Throughout the three months in the frontier, border guards have been persistently performing their tasks to keep strict control of the borderline, and their efforts deserve respect from people nationwide./.