Truong Sa Archipelago,Son Ca Island,ethnic soldiers,proud
Thap Van Hoan (left) and Pham Cong Giap with their happy smiles on the Son Ca Island. — Photo

They are special because they are some of the few ethnic people to step foot on Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago of Vietnam, and because they volunteered to spend their youth in service of the nation.

Giap is a Muong man from the central province of Thanh Hoa and Hoan is a Cham man from the central-southern province of Ninh Thuan.

Son Ca is one of biggest islands of Truong Sa Archipelago off the central province of Khanh Hoa.

There are 41 ethnic minority soldiers working on Truong Sa Archipelago, including people of Cham, Muong, Dao, Mong, Khmer, S’tiêng, Tay and Raglai ethnicities.

Lieutenant colonel Pham Doan Thao, a commissar, told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper that Giap and Hoan were exemplary soldiers.

“They are enthusiastic in their duty. Giap is agile, hard-working and is able to do everything whereas Hoan is gentle with a fond smile and skill. Hoan can draw and decorate the notice board, make flower baskets, bicycles, star and bird models,” he said.

Lieutenant Pham Cong Giap, 26, has worked on Son Ca Island since December 2018. After graduating from Army Officer College No 1, he worked for two years at the Naval Forces High Command Region 3. After that, he moved to the Naval Forces High Command Region 4 and then volunteered to go to Son Ca Island.

“The sea at Truong Sa Archipelago is much more beautiful than my imagination,” said Giap.

Earlier, Giap had seen programmes about Truong Sa on YouTube and television, and he understood how hard the work on the island would be. Both the sun and rain are severe on the island, and typhoons are also much more violent than inland.

“I’m young. I need practice and hardship to reach adulthood so I didn't hesitate,” said Giap.

Giap has welcomed two Tet (Lunar New Year) festivals on the island.

“My first Tet holiday on the island was very special,” said Giap.

It was special because Giap was responsible for presenting arms and guarding on New Year’s Eve.


“Not many people are assigned to guard on New Year’s Eve, moreover, it was a guardship at Truong Sa Archipelago. The moment was so sacred and moving for me. I was so proud and wanted to tell my parents immediately,” said Giap.

“The work environment here has helped me be more mature and steadier,” he said.

Besides Giap, Thap Van Hoan is also an ethnic minority working on Son Ca Island.

Hoan, 20, is the last child in his family, so when he said that he would go to Truong Sa Archipelago, his family was very worried.

On the contrary with his family, Hoan was very eager to go to the island, which he had known via books and television only.

“I have dreamed of becoming a soldier since I was small. And I was the first person in my family to join the army,” said Hoan.

At first, Hoan was a little worried if he could do his duties or not.

Hoan remembered deeply the time he first entered the island. Everything was new, strange and interesting to him.

“I love watching the sunrise and sunset on the island. It was amazing and beautiful,” said Hoan.

Hoan said soldiers came from different provinces and cities, but all were united. People join activities together such as singing, baseball, tug of war and running.

“I have many good friends. My comrades all have a sense of humour and are ready to help each other,” said Hoan.

“I’m very proud that I have gone to Truong Sa. When I go to inland, I will tell every person about my life and comrades here,” he said.  VNS

Life on Truong Sa archipelago

Life on Truong Sa archipelago

Life of people on Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago has been improved since national liberation in 1975 thanks to efforts from both the army and people on its islands.

45 years of national reunification: liberation of Truong Sa archipelago

45 years of national reunification: liberation of Truong Sa archipelago

After the victory of the Central Highlands and Hue-Da Nang Campaigns, on April 4, 1975, the Central Military Commission ordered Military Zone 5 and the navy force to liberate islands on Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.