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How a teenage clerk turned into a war veteran

By Liu Xiangrui | China Daily | Updated: 2015-09-11 08:05

How a teenage clerk turned into a war veteran

Guo Shaojun, 91, says he remains optimistic in spite of his experiences as a soldier. Liu Xiangrui/China Daily

Guo Shaojun, a war veteran, was among those honored by the government on the 70th anniversary of China's victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

But owing to his poor health, the 91-year-old couldn't participate in the grand military parade on Sept 3, when his fellow war heroes were cheered by the public as they sat on a bus moving along Chang'an Avenue, the city's arterial road that served as the commemoration venue.

Ahead of the parade, Guo told China Daily that the day held a special meaning for him as a part of history.

Guo had joined Chinese guerrilla forces at age 15, becoming a member of the Communist Party of China in 1939. For the next four years, he fought the occupying Japanese troops on the North China Plain. The change was radical for a teenager who until then helped with accounts at a tinsmith's shop in Tianjin city.

His mind was made up, though, once he learned the tin sheets were ending up with the Japanese military. Besides, while in Tianjin, Guo was once hit by a passing Japanese army vehicle as he rode his bicycle to a bank to deposit cash that belonged to the shop. As Guo tried to get back on his feet, he was given a good beating and the money was snatched.

The incident forced him to return to his hometown in Wuqiang county in North China's Hebei province.

"The mental torture was worse than the physical pain for me," Guo says. "I couldn't wait to find the anti-Japanese guerrilla force (in Wuqiang) about which I had heard."

Guo was immediately taken in and served as an office assistant in one such facility. His early days there were mostly spent transcribing files and painting slogans on public walls. But Guo soon went to the frontlines, and in 1942, he was sent to Hejian county, about 60 kilometers away from Wuqiang, to work as a secretary for the local Party committee.

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