Wenchuan quake survivor follows his hero's footsteps

Updated 2018-05-09 09:47:01

Cheng holds a banner "I want to become an airborne trooper when I grow up" as airborne troops leave after their rescue work in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

"Beep...beep" comes the sound from the green light as the hatch opens. Cheng Qiang takes a deep breath and jumps out of the jet.

Three seconds later, the parachute opens, he adjusts himself and lands safely. After quickly folding his parachute, Cheng tightens his grip around his automatic rifle and plunges himself into the jungle.

This was a scene from a recent training Cheng attended as a paratrooper.

Ten year ago, Cheng was a 12-year-old boy who held a sign saying "I want to become an airborne trooper when I grow up" when he saw airborne troops leave after their rescue work in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Now Cheng has become a soldier of the Chinese airborne troops, just as he said he would.

Recalling the day the quake happened, Cheng had a lucky escape as he had skipped school and gone swimming in a pond in Shifang, 40 kilometers away from the epicenter Wenchuan. But the quake destroyed his home and took away the lives of his little niece and his classmates.

"We survived but fell into despair, not knowing what to do. It felt like the whole world had stopped running," he said. Then on the second day of the quake came the moment he will never forget - a large number of airborne troops appeared in his hometown, carrying rescue supplies.

"It was really cool to see them descending from the sky. Their bravery sowed a seed in my heart of becoming an airborne trooper," Cheng said. It was the first time he had a dream.

Cheng also noticed the words "airborne" on their helmets and "the troop unit Huang Jiguang was once at" written on the flag they were carrying.

Huang Jiguang is a Chinese war hero who sacrificed himself in the battle of Shangganling during the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea in 1952. In the battle, he blocked enemy fire with his chest to run down the enemy's ammunition and seize a strategically important place.

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