As usual, the crew of ship 954 will not be returning to home for Tet, the traditional Lunar New Year Festival.
The Lunar New Year 2020 will not be here for one more week, but the soldiers aboard rescue ship 954 have already enjoyed an early Tet with golden apricot blossoms, five-fruit trays, and square sticky rice Chung cakes - indispensable elements of Tet holiday.
Senior Lieutenant Le Van Khiem, the ship’s political commissar, said “We are always ready to carry out a rescue mission. Organizing an early Tet celebration for the soldiers bolstered their morale.”
Ship 954’s soldiers must be on alert around the clock, including at Tet and other holidays.
Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Van Khiem, the ship’s captain, has spent more than 20 Tet holidays away from home. He said that once a soldier chooses this job, he must accept sacrifice and hardships in return for the security of the nation and people. It is the duty of every soldier.
“We are honored and proud to have had an early Tet holiday and understand that, even while enjoying an early Tet, wer must be prepared for action at any moment,” Khiem said.
Corporal Mai Dang Bach, the youngest aboard the ship, told VOV that this was his first early Tet on a boat and said he was moved by the warmth he felt from shipmates and officers. Bach said the ship has become his second family.
“I have been working on the boat for 2 months and have gotten helpful guidance from the senior crew members. I feel moved because this is the first time I have spent Tet far from my family,” said Bach.
Sergeant Nguyen Van Duc and several other soldiers completed their military service and went back home just a few days before the Lunar New Year after being on ship 954 for nearly 2 years. Sgt. Duc said what he gained the most was comradeship.
“I’m glad to return home but I’m also sad because I have to leave my comrades and the area to which I’ve formed a close attachment over the past two years. I was touched to enjoy an early Tet, which is my last Tet in the army,” he said.