|"Hard-Boned No 6 Company" participates in a training exercise at the People's Liberation Army's Nanjing Military Area in March. Provided to China Daily|
Pampered sons brought down to earth by life in the military
Zhang Yun became emotional when she saw her son, Wang Xu, had lost about 20 kg and was seriously sunburnt after his first month assigned to a People's Liberation Army company renowned for its tough training.
"Look how roughly you have treated my son," she told the Sixth Company's commanders at the Nanjing Military Area. "We spent tens of thousands of yuan to help him gain that fat!"
But the mother's attitude changed dramatically when she visited her son again in October. Six months after he joined the force widely known as "Hard-Boned No 6 Company", her previously spoiled son had adjusted well to life in the army. He had replaced his lost fat with muscles, was well-behaved and proudly presented his mother with a certificate he was awarded for being a sharpshooter.
"I never expected my son could be useful like this," Zhang said. "Being presented with the certificate made me happier than receiving 20,000 yuan ($3,200)."
The history of the company that helped Wang and other soldiers grow up fast dates to the 1930s, when its founders gained fame for being heroic and skillful in battle.
In 1964, the Ministry of National Defense conferred the title "Hard-Boned No 6 Company" on the unit and it was again awarded the title in 1985 for its outstanding performance in a border war. According to Huan Xinxin, the company's political instructor, his unit is known for its readiness for battle, bravery shown in combat, superior military tactics and tough discipline. It has won numerous honors, and the soldiers spend around 10 hours a day on military training and often go into the country without food, water or shelter for survival training.
The Hangzhou-based company is also the first on the front line in rescue efforts when natural disasters ravage parts of East China. For instance, the company worked five days and nights after Typhoon Fitow caused severe flooding in Yuyao, Zhejiang province, cutting off the city's power, water and telecom services.
In a disaster caused by heavy snowstorms and severe frost in early 2008, the soldiers scaled a 1,300-meter mountain topped by snow in Jiangxi province. They carried equipment weighing a total of 80 metric tons on their backs up the mountain to help power supply to the region to resume.
Hard training is behind those honors and achievements, the company's leaders said.
In a performance drill this month, soldiers were seen overcoming various hurdles, including being fully armed while swimming through a 3-meter-deep ditch in icy water and jumping through hoops of fire. They fired guns accurately from hundreds of meters away and coordinated armored vehicles to strike "enemy" targets.
"Our training is always harsher than that required by the syllabus. For example, the barrier is higher and the task is more challenging," said Hu Chi, a platoon leader. "Only with tough training can we ensure victory in a real battle."
For Li Yan, 23, who has been part of the company for two years, the most challenging event in the training is sliding down a steel cable above a pool of water, as sprays of water burst into the air, emulating a bombardment in combat conditions.
"You have to conquer your fear of heights and get used to the weightless conditions when traveling down the cable at 10 meters per second," he said. "But we grow up very fast in the army. I made great improvements in terms of both my physical and psychological condition."