Heroic soldier gets medal for contributions
Guo Ruixiang reads at his home in the cadres retreat center in Dalian, Liaoning province, on July 7. [Photo/Xinhua]
Active in army, politics for 84 years, Hebei native who fought Japanese continues to keep up with nation's developments
Guo Ruixiang, army veteran and former deputy political commissar of the Duyun military subdistrict of Guizhou province, was awarded the July 1 Medal, the Communist Party of China's highest honor to its members, for his contribution to the army.
When the centenarian, who was born in Hebei province in December 1920, learned that he had been selected for the award in June, he traveled to Beijing from Dalian, Liaoning province, despite family concerns for his health.
"The medal is the highest honor conferred by the Party, I had to collect it in person," he said.
Guo is the longest-serving Party member among the award's 29 recipients, having joined 84 years ago.
As a boy, he studied at a private school in rural Hebei and came into contact with communist ideas thanks to the influence of progressive classmates. Communism's opposition to exploitation and oppression resonated with the boy, who remembered his father being brutalized by a landlord.
He joined the Red Army when he was 16 and became a Party member in March 1937. He has been loyal to the Party his whole life.
Guo's early years were a time of violence. During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), he fought bravely in a series of battles and contributed to war efforts.
After the Lugou Bridge Incident, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, in July 1937, which marked the outbreak of full-scale war between China and Japan, Guo worked underground in a complex and dangerous environment collecting intelligence and was responsible for the training of new Party members.
On one occasion, a clandestine operation he was part of was uncovered, and his superior was killed. With their lives in danger, Guo and his comrades went into hiding.
After the danger passed, he began to reassemble the team, which had scattered to avoid detection, so he reached out to Party members around him as well as others expressing an interest in joining.
In 1939, he recruited 40 young men to the Eighth Route Army, which was led by the CPC during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
In May 1940, Japanese soldiers attacked Guo's troops from two directions at Xiaoqu in the southwest of Shandong province.
"The battle was fierce. My comrades' blood stained the ground red," he recalled. The instructor of a battalion at the time, Guo led a platoon in carrying out attacks on the rear of the Japanese forces.
Though 80 years have passed since then, he still remembers details of the battle as if it happened yesterday.
"I ordered the soldiers to set up machine guns and fire at the Japanese. A number of horses inside their barracks were frightened by the gunfire and jumped over the wall to escape," he said.
"The remaining soldiers fled after some were killed or injured, and we pursued them to victory. We captured a number of horses, cavalry rifles and a machine gun, which severely demoralized the enemy."
During the War of Liberation (1946-49), Guo helped improve Party organization and strengthen leadership during a particularly critical period when not all troops were ideologically committed.
In the autumn of 1946, he was serving as the political commissar of a local armed division, whose deputy commander and a company commander had previously been bandits and whose habits did not conform to Party doctrine.
Guo patiently explained the purpose and discipline of the army and paid close attention to the Party's leadership, organization and execution to instill proper discipline, eventually reorganizing the troops.
After taking part in the Yangtze River Crossing Campaign (April-June, 1949), Guo's regiment moved west into Guizhou province to fight bandits.
At the beginning of 1950, he was placed in charge of educating troops revolting against the country's political direction and taught them the Party's policies and the principles of Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Despite the constant possibility of rebellion, Guo managed to reform the dissenting officers and soldiers and was able to reorganize them into regular PLA divisions to bolster the army's strength.
Active after retirement
In 1979, Guo retired from his post as deputy political commissar and in 1982, he and his family moved to the cadres retreat center in Liaoning. Since then, they have led a simple life.
"The schoolbags we used when we were little were made out of my father's old army raincoats," Guo Huili, the veteran's fourth daughter, said. She said that her father had a sweater that he had worn for more than 10 years, and when the sleeves became torn, he cut them off and turned the sweater into a vest.
"We were influenced by what our father said and did. He also devised the family motto, which is to never bring trouble to the Party or the country," she said.
Guo Ruixiang has a lot of experience in politics and kept up with theory after retirement. It's only by studying the Party's latest theories that he feels able to stay abreast of contemporary political developments.
He not only studies by himself, but also encourages those around him to study together.
As long as his health allows, he plans to remain active in Party education and study activities organized by the cadre retreat center, and he encourages other elderly cadres and Party members to keep learning, too.
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