Navy Zone 5 will distribute gifts from mainlanders to soldiers garrisoned on the islands to help them enjoy the Tet holiday while guarding national territorial waters.
The naval units of Navy Zone 5 are currently busy preparing for the upcoming Tet holiday. Barracks are being repaired and decorated and flowers have been planted in surrounding gardens.
Nguyen Van Kinh stationed on the outpost island of Tho Chu said his first Tet far from home is exciting and he’s looking forward to celebrating the festival with other soldiers.
"At home, Tet is always a joyful occasion with family, relatives, and friends. Although I’m on duty far from home, I’ve received support and encouragement from colleagues and officials. We have a close relationship. Yesterday we found a beautiful apricot tree in the forest that will decorate the meeting hall. We also made 10 Banh Chung (cake made from sticky rice, green beans and pork) for Tet. We’re almost ready."
Captain Trieu Van Tuyen, a radar technician, said he has worked on the island for 17 years. When he began staying there, almost no residents lived and the garrison grappled with severe infrastructure shortages.
Tuyen recalled he was extremely worried when he decided to move his whole family to the island in 2007. But now he owns a house near his office. His children go to school on the mainland and his wife runs a grocery.
"In recent years, thanks to the support of the Party and government and the close relations between the army and the people, our Tet festival is more joyful. There’s almost no difference between Tet here and Tet on the mainland. Seniors, and juniors live in harmony. We encourage each other to celebrate the holiday but, at the same time, remain alert and protect the national territorial waters.
"On New Year’s Eve we will organise an exchange with the local Youth Union. We hope the living conditions of all Vietnamese people will improve."
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Huy, commander of the Tho Chu Regiment, said a schedule for operation watch officers has already been outlined, guaranteeing a happy and safe Tet holiday for all personnel.
"This year we have made a lot of improvements to the material and spiritual life of the soldiers, as well as to the duty roster. The soldiers are in a high state of readiness. Some units will have to complete guard duty before they celebrate Tet. During the Tet holiday, we will cooperate with the commune People’s Committee and Youth Union to host cultural and sports activities."
At Radar station 600 on Nam Du Island in Kien Giang province’s Kien Hai district, the warm Tet atmosphere was palpable.
Military personnel, teachers, the staff of An Son commune People’s Committee, and many local women worked together to make Banh Chung. Nguyen Thai Viet, vice chairman of the commune People’s Committee, said the New Year’s Eve party will farewell a number of soldiers and staff returning to their native villages for Tet.
"To ensure a happy Tet for the locals, we will hold an exchange featuring performances with all border guard stations and naval forces in the province. We have set up teams to deliver gifts to the disadvantaged and policy beneficiary households," Viet said.
To have a joyful festival, more than 70 tonnes of food and other festive commodities have been prepared to transport to the islands.