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Guizhou man looks after shelter in secret for 40 years

By Yang Fan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-12-30 10:36

Guizhou man looks after shelter in secret for 40 years

He Wenxun, born in Pan county, Guizhou, in 1929, joined the army of the Communist Party in 1948. He was allocated to Ceheng county as an official in charge of infrastructure construction after the founding of the People's Republic of China. [Photo/sohu.com]

For 41 years, He Wenxun has lived a double life. By day, he was a father, grandfather, husband and a seemingly-ordinary citizen; by night, he was the guardian of a secret government shelter beneath his home.

The octogenarian man from Guizhou province guarded and maintained a government air-raid shelter in secret for more than 40 years after receiving the command from his then superior officer.

Only now has He revealed his secret duty, after becoming concerned that his bad health would prevent him from taking care of the shelter.

Comrades at the people's armed forces department in Ceheng county in the Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture were amazed when He walked in to seek relief from his duties. Not only had the department forgotten that He was never officially relieved of his post, they had no official record of the shelter even existing.

He told an official of the department that he had been watching over the air-raid shelter for more than four decades and that he was too old to continue the job, so he had to tell the department.

He Wenxun said that he was assigned by the then head of the people's armed forces department to set up an air-raid shelter in 1975. The work was required to be kept a secret and no drawings were allowed to remain of the building after its completion. Though difficult, He finished the construction in four months with the help of about 100 people which were selected strictly.

However, the tumultuousness of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) upset the original plan and the people who were in charge of the project were transferred, leaving He the sole guardian of the shelter.

To accomplish the work, He lived in a small house built above the shelter and checked and cleaned it regularly. He kept the secret to himself and even to his children, expecting the people's armed forces to contact him at some point.

When his family tried to persuade him to move house and live with them, they were bemused when He flatly refused to do so.

"Now we finally know why he refused to move," said He Wenxun's son. "My father just wanted stay with the shelter."

He felt his body is getting worse and was worried there would be no one to maintain the shelter when he passed away, so he decided to make contact with the government.

Ren Bo from the people's armed forces department explained that because all the information about the shelter was lost in the chaos time, they didn't know there was a shelter.

At the office of the department, the old man retold the story while sketching the layout of the shelter. The officials then checked the shelter under He's guidance and found it was well preserved even after almost half a century.

As a tribute to He's unwavering commitment to his post, the local people's army department have honored him as a moral model.

As for the shelter, the county's Civil Air Defense Office will take it over and convert it to make it suitable for modern air defense use.

He can now happily retire without the burden of secrecy.

Edited by Jacob Hooson

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