33 years have gone but the battle to protect Gac Ma island still do not fade in the memories of veteran Nguyen Van Thong. Today, he along with veterans and relatives of Gac Ma martyrs visited the grave of Tran Van Phuong in his home town of Ba Don, Quang Binh province in remembrance of the heroic martyr.

33 years ago, on March 14 1988, 64 Vietnamese soldiers sacrificed their lives in the battle of protecting Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef, part of the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago. Of the 64 martyrs, 13 are from Quang Binh province. For veterans who are the soldiers’ fellows, these days are more special.

Whenever March comes, people across Vietnam turn their hearts to Gac Ma soldiers who laid down their life to safeguard the country’s maritime sovereignty. Commemoration for the soldiers held annually is a chance to remind survivors and younger generations of unforgettable history of the nation and willingness to protect the national sovereignty./.