Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away

It is never more appropriate to quote General Douglas MacArthur’s words in his famous Farewell Address to Congress in 1951 when he was recalled from the battlefield of Korean peninsula to describe Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy’s LST 205.

Still in active service, LST 205, a tank landing ship, formerly USS LST 716 commissioned in 1944, has a long list of glorious combat records.

Before it was transferred to the ROC Navy in 1946, she had taken part in the Battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945, the fiercest and bloodiest fight ever against the Empire of Japan in the Pacific campaign.

LST 205 was renamed Chung Chien by the ROC Navy for its role in retaking the once Japanese occupied Xisha islands in South China Sea in 1946.

In April 1950, at the end of Chinese Civil War, LST 205 helped evacuate thousands of troops and civilians from Hainan to Taiwan before they fell into communist captivity.  

In July 1953, LST 205 supported the raid to the communist-held Tungshan Island, located off the coast of Fukien and Guangdong provinces. Though the raid was failed, it was still seen as a morale booster to the then very feeble KMT regime on Taiwan.

In February 1955, LST 205 was again sent out to help the evacuation of troops and civilians on Tachen Island, located off the coast of Zhejiang province, to Taiwan before the dawn of communist invasion.

During the 823 Artillery Bombardment in 1958, the Chinese Communist’s attempt to take Jinmen and Matsu, both ROC’s most vital outposts to resist PRC’s “liberation of Taiwan,” LST 205 was shelled on a supply mission resulting in the death of seven sailors on board.  

In April 1975, LST 205 set sail for Vietnam to help evacuate oversea Chinese to Taiwan on the eve of North Vietnamese troops entering Saigon, now Ho Chi-min City, then the capital of South Vietnam. 

In October 1990, LST 205 helped repatriate illegal Chinese immigrants back to mainland China.

It was over seventy years since the commission of LST 205, at that time when the grandfathers of sailors serving aboard this ship today were as young as their grandchildren. We are truly thankful for this ship and all hands on board for their dedication and sacrifice to help defend our country. 

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