Son and husband remembered for making ultimate sacrifice

Updated: 2008-05-24 07:41

One brave man selflessly cut short his birthday celebrations to save the life of another, following the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan.

Wang Gang, who would have turned 42 on May 16, gave his life to save a journalist reporting on the quake-affected areas.

The morning of his birthday, the vice-director of the Public Security Bureau's branch for the Wolong Nature Reserve was helping to offload rescue supplies in Wolong, home to the giant pandas.

It was like a scene from the Hollywood movie Broken Arrow. A fast-spinning empennage of a helicopter was dangerously close to someone's head. In the film, even the invincible hero looked scared.

But Wang was not. When he saw the female journalist standing too close to the helicopter, he quickly ran forward and saved her life by pulling her away from the powerful empennage.

In the process, the empennage struck him in the head, taking his life.

Wang's parents last heard from their son just two days earlier, when he was on his way to the quake-affected area. He had used a satellite phone to call home from a helicopter.

Wang's mother Duan Huizhen told him: "Don't forget the day after tomorrow will be your birthday."

The call was interrupted and she was not sure if Wang heard her reminder.

"No parents want their children to become a hero who sacrifices his life," said Duan.

A few days later, Duan's parents remained camped out in a tent in Chengdu, for fear of aftershocks. Had it not been for the quake, Wang would have arrived home on that day.

Wang's wife describes her husband as an honest and loving man.

"Most men don't like to go shopping with their wives, but he was always very patient," she said. "He neither smoked nor gambled away money playing mahjong. He enjoyed reading during his spare time. He also liked cooking, and he was very good at it," said Wang's wife.

Wang's father, Wang Chenglong, said he was a "timid, shy and filial son" who always looked after his younger sister in childhood.

"I don't know what he thought at that moment on the 16th," he said. "Maybe he took that woman journalist as his sister."

"I remember seeing him last, one Sunday in early May. He stood at the gate and said to me: 'I'm going to work, dad'."

(China Daily 05/24/2008 page4)