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The Robinson Crusoe of Ngang Islet

Update: August, 17/2018 - 08:00
Rapid land erosion and over-exploitation of natural resources were big concern for Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Thái Dũng, a soldier from Phú Tân Border Guard Station. — Photo thanhnien.vn
Viet Nam News

TIỀN GIANG — Hardly anyone in Tân Phú Đông Island does not know about the story of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Thái Dũng.

For local resident, he is truly a Robinson Crusoe of the region.

Unlike Crusoe, the main character in a famous novel of Daniel Defoe, is active and adventurous to strange land despite the big waves and the dangers, Dũng’s main duty is to protect maritime security and help fishermen to shelter when storms came.

Dũng, 47, from Mekong Delta Province of Tiền Giang’s Châu Thành District has had a close connection to Ngang Islet for many years. Each small corner of the islet was familiar to him.

It was in mid-1992, Dũng and a soldier were assigned to work their.

"Foreseen to be like Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island, but we still have to spend a lot of time to get used to the new life, because the Ngang Islet at that time was just a uninhabited and long coastline,” he told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.

There were few trees and we would almost sink in the water whenever the tide came in, he said.

At that moment, they faced numerous difficulties in their daily lives.

“Sand was the ‘specialty’ of the islet”, Dũng joked, adding that due to water shortage, fresh water was reserved for drinking and cooking while salt water was used for other needs.

Soldiers from Phú Tân Border Guard Station had to grow their own food. — Photo thanhnien.vn

Sometimes, local residents including soldiers from the border post, had to eat melons to ease the thirsty.

Even these days, the lives of soldiers at the border guard station are not easy. To enrich their food, soldiers plant vegetables, raise pigs and catch fish.

There was one incident that left a deep impression in his memory, he said.

“On the morning of October 15, 1992, upon hearing on the radio that a storm was coming, we cooked lunch early. But it rained heavy and the wind was very strong. We couldn’t eat the lunch as the water level rose rapidly."

They had no choice but put their valuables on their backs and then they were washed away amid strong flow of water. Exhausted they passed out.

The next day, they awoke and were told that a fisherman from Bến Tre Province’s Bình Đại District had rescued them.

After taking a rest for two days, Dũng returned to the islet to continue his duty.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Đình Xuân Bá, Commander of Phú Tân Border Guard Station, said that Dũng had been assigned to work at Ngang Islet for such a long time but never complained about the job nor considered changing it.

“He does not only accomplish his mission perfectly but also help preserving the biodiversity of the region,” Bá said.

“I don’t like the over-exploitation of sand from local residents as it would be favourable conditions for waves causing serious degradation,” he was quoted by Thanh Niên (Young People) as saying.

Dũng said that what made him worry most was the rapid land erosion at Ngang Islet.

Although the provincial People’s Committee has spent VNĐ1.6 billion on building the headquarters of Phú Tân Border Guard Station and such trees like dừa (coconut) and phi lao (Casuarina equisetifolia) were planted to prevent land erosion, the building could collapse any time, he said. — VNS

 

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