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PHOTOS: Heroes of the Long March Saga
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  • (Top row, from left to right) Red Army veterans Fang Huai, Hao Yi, Li Guang, Ren Qun, and Wang Chengdeng; (bottom row, from left to right) Yang Yisheng, Wang Fengwen, Wang Dingguo, Wu Qingchang and Zhao Renkuan
  • Wang Dingguo, 103, joined the Red Army when she was 20. Coming from Yingshan, a county in southeast China's Sichuan Province, she lost a toe due to frostbite while scaling a high mountain in 1936. Even at the age of 94, the indefatigable Wang traveled along part of the Long March route once again, visiting her comrades-in-arms (Top) Wang Dingguo; (bottom left) Wang engaged in calligraphy; her writing means "Long Live the Long March"; (bottom right) Wang at her residence in Beijing
  • Wang Chengdeng, 101, came from Xingguo, a county in east China's Jiangxi Province. He joined the CPC in 1934. Wang Chengdeng's most valiant fight was during the Wayaobao Battle in northwest China's Shaanxi Province in 1936, when a bullet went through his left eye, exiting from the ear, leaving him at death's door. (Top) Wang Chengdeng; (bottom left) Wang shows his war scar and (bottom right) tells of his Long March adventures
  • Wu Qingchang, 99, came from Huichang County in Jiangxi to join the Red Army at the age of 16. His most impressive fight was the Battle Over Luding Bridge, where he lost part of his left index finger. (Top) Wu Qingchang; (bottom left) Wu shows his war injury; (bottom right) Wu narrates his Long March stories
  • Fang Huai, 99, was born in Yudu County in Jiangxi. Joining the Children's Corps at the age of 12, he became a CPC member in 1933 Fang called the Battle Over Xiangjiang River the fiercest and most deadly in the Long March. "We were encircled by both ground and air forces," he recalled. "The waters of Xiangjiang ran red with blood." (Top) Fang Huai; (bottom) Fang recalls the Battle Over Xiangjiang River
  • Wang Fengwen, 99, was born in Bazhong, a city in Sichuan. He joined the Red Army in 1934, and became a CPC member a year later. Wang's most memorable war experience was the Gaotai Battle in January 1936, where he fought the KMT cavalry for five consecutive days (Top) Wang Fengwen; (bottom left) Wang shows his leg injuries; (bottom right); the nonagenarian is looked after by his niece
  • Hao Yi, 99, came from Jinzhai, a county in east China's Anhui Province. After becoming a CPC member in October 1936, he took part in the Long March as well as the Battle of Pingjin and the Korean War. He was wounded in the left leg in one of the wars (Top) Hao Yi; (bottom left) Hao shows his Long March scar; (bottom right) Hao reading a newspaper in a hospital
  • Yang Yisheng, 97, was born in Bazhong, Sichuan Province. Joining the Red Army in 1932, he fought in the Battle Over Jialingjiang River and the Songpan Battle. He had to scale two snowy mountains and march across the Songpan Steppe. Yang remembers the hunger pangs they suffered in the Long March. To move faster, the Red Army abandoned its food supplies while climbing the mountains and crossing the steppe and many soldiers nearly starved to death (Top) Yang Yisheng; (bottom) Yang recalls his Long March days
  • Zhao Renkuan, 97, came from Bazhong to join the Red Army in 1934. Zhao remembers most vividly the Masangya Battle in Sichuan in 1935. Looking at the countless dead bodies lying on the battlefield, he says he realized the difficulties of the revolution (Top) Zhao Renkuan; (bottom); Zhao today
  • Ren Qun, 97, came from Tongjiang County in Sichuan to join the Red Army in 1933. Joining the Long March in 1935, he was responsible for confidential message communication (Top) Ren Qun; (bottom left) Ren shows his gunshot scar; (bottom right) Ren looks at an old photo
  • Li Guang, 96, was born in Zunyi, a city in southwest China's Guizhou Province. He joined the Red Army in 1934, and became a CPC member four years later. Li took part in several battles, including the Battle Over Wujiang River and the Zunyi Battle. In the battle to liberate Chengdu, he was in the frontline and got shot in the right hand, leaving it badly injured. (Top) Li Guang; (bottom left) Li shows his war injury; (bottom right) Li today
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Compiled by Li Nan, photos by Xinhua

When they began the Long March 80 years ago, these Red Army soldiers were all youngsters.

Encircled by the Kuomintang (KMT), then ruling party of China, decimated by KMT troops and deciding to retreat to a base in the northwest, the Red Army led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, conducted a daring military maneuver from October 1934 to October 1936. It came to be known as the Long March.

It was a heroic odyssey through gunfire, starvation and freezing cold, creating a saga of courage and faith.

Now, the survivors are in their 90s or centuries. This collage focuses on their valiant sacrifices.

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

Coments to linan@bjreview.com

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