Thu, 24 Sep 2020

CHANGSHA, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The remains of four soldiers, who were among the country's first paratroopers, were formally interred in central China's Hunan Province on Wednesday as volunteers continued to search for their families and relatives.

The four soldiers were laid to rest in a solemn ceremony in Minghan Village, Hengyang County, 75 years after they died fighting Japanese invaders during World War II.

Volunteers, local villagers and two veterans from the same paratroop attended the ceremony and offered floral tributes at a newly-erected monument commemorating the martyrs.

Volunteer groups said they are still searching for relatives of the paratroopers after DNA samples were collected from the remains of the soldiers.

"We hope to find the families of the martyrs through DNA matching and other means, so their stories can be passed on," said Tang Haihui, a volunteer with the Hunan Home for Veterans.

The four soldiers were from China's first paratroop, established in 1944 during World War II. In 1945, they launched an attack on a Japanese stronghold near Hengyang.

Four paratroopers died in the battle on the eve of the V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day). Other soldiers wrapped their bodies in parachutes and buried them in simple coffins.

A local villager had been guarding the unnamed tombs until he passed away in 2018. In the same year, a researcher from Northwest University arrived in the village to trace stories of the soldiers.

So far, three of the four soldiers have been identified through historical records, with DNA samples collected for future matching. But experts failed to extract DNA samples from the remains of the last soldier.

Tang said they would continue to search for the families of the soldiers using awareness campaigns through media and the internet. One man previously responded to their notice, claiming to be related to one soldier, but failed the DNA test.

"History and people will never forget these young people. They bid farewell to their loved ones to rush to the battlefield, where they defended the country with their lives and blood," said Tang.

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