China's Only Normandy Survivor Awarded Legion d'Honneur

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syscom3

Pacific Historian
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Jun 4, 2005
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I received this e-mail today. Quite interesting.

China's Only Normandy Survivor Awarded Legion d'Honneur

The only survivor of 24 Chinese naval officers, who participated in
the Normandy D-Day landings 62 years ago, Huang Tingxin, received
France's highest honor yesterday in recognition of his valor during
World War II.

Jean-Marin Schuh, French consul general in Shanghai, traveled to the
veteran's home in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang
Province, to present the award. Huang, 88, suffers from a heart
complaint and Parkinson's disease.

A native of Anhui Province he graduated from a naval school in
Qingdao, Shandong Province, in the late 1930s. In 1942, during the
War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), Huang and
23 other naval officers, were chosen by the then Nationalist
government to study at the Britannia Royal Naval College in
Greenwich, Britain. They were then posted to fleets operating in
different war theaters for internship in March 1944.

Huang served on aircraft carrier "Searcher" and part of his duties
included keeping watch over the angle of the vessel on the sea and
its position in the fleet formation. "It was no small task as the
smooth landing and take-off of aircraft depended on the tilt of the
carrier," Huang recalled in earlier interviews.

At midnight on June 5, 1944 the eve of D-Day his warship slipped her
moorings in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and sailed south. It wasn't
until the next morning that Huang and fellow seamen heard on the BBC
that the allied forces had landed at Normandy.

"Only then did we know what our mission was that night," Huang
said. "All of us were overjoyed at the news but we couldn't feel
completely relieved until our escort mission ended." Huang also took
part in the Toulon landing with French troops on August 15 the same
year.

"We will never forget that you and other Chinese people stood with
us shoulder-to-shoulder when France was facing the most difficult
situation during the war," Schuh said in Chinese at the
ceremony. "It is our responsibility to remember this forever," he
added.

Huang's face lit up as Schuh presented him with the medal of the
Legion d'Honneur which has been awarded to fewer than 200 Chinese.
His family captured the moment on video cameras. The father of three
made a short speech from his wheelchair while his nurse held an
oxygen mask beside him.

"It was a great honor to join the anti-Nazi war," he said. "After
more than 60 years I am still very proud about it."

"It (today's occasion) reminds me of other Chinese naval officers
who took part in the operation," Huang added. "The honor is not only
for me it belongs to all of them." The other 23 Chinese officers
have died over the years.

Huang joined the Navy of the People's Liberation Army in 1949. He
moved to Zhejiang in 1958 and taught English at Zhejiang Science and
Technology University for seven years before retiring in 1971.

(China Daily July 6, 2006)
 

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