Yao Zhanling, a Hero Rescuing the Military Horse

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Exciting music and vivid comic book bring us back to the era of burning passion. Yao Zhanling, a comic book published in 1960s, tells the story of Yao Zhanling, a soldier of the People’s Liberation Army who heroically rescued numerous passengers in a train and a military horse. Yao Zhanling, protagonist of the story, was born in Hekou, Dongying City, Shandong Province.

Yao Zhenguo, who lives in Xiesheng Village, Liuhe Subdistrict, Hekou District, Dongying City, visits the Party History Museum of Liuhe Subdistrict to recall his uncle martyr Yao Zhanling on holidays. Speaking of his uncle, Yao Zhenguo will always remember the words of his grandparents and stories told by the elderly.

[Yao Zhenguo, Yao Zhanling’s nephew] Martyr Yao Zhanling is my fifth uncle. The elderly told that he was clever and had great virtue and morality since childhood. He was elected by all villagers as the accountant after graduation senior high school.

Being excellent in character and learning, Yao Zhanling returned to the village and served as accountant after he graduated senior high school, winning wide-spread praise for his hard and honest work. He was drafted into the army in response to the call of the state in 1965 and joined the Communist Party of China in May 1967. He studied hard in the army and rapidly became an excellent revolutionary soldier thanks to the education and cultivation of the Party organization.

[Yao Zhenguo, Yao Zhanling’s nephew] He was highly recognized (by the army) for his positive attitude and hard work, and was assigned as assistant to veterinarian treating military horses.

Many think that it is boring to take care of horses all day long, but Yao Zhanling didn’t think so. He wrote in his diary: “A CPC member shall stay true to his missions, keep the motherland in mind, and have a global vision … It is meaningful to do whatever job for attaining the goal of communism.” He put his coat on horses in winter, left his water to horses in summer, and even slept together with them at night. While taking care of sick horse, he hashed the forage and even took a sip before feeding. The sick horse ultimately recovered. “The horse gets fatter, but Yao Zhanling becomes thin,” his colleagues said with distress. Yao Zhanling was rated as “Soldiers Excellent in Five Aspects” and “Pacesetter in Caring Military Horse” year by year for his excellent performance.

[Yao Zhenguo, Yao Zhanling’s nephew] In 1967, he sacrificed for rescuing a passenger train and military horse.

Cui Binglan, Yao Zhanling’s fourth sister-in-law, remembers what happened in 1967 clearly, as if it happened yesterday. Yao Zhanling returned home to visit relatives that Spring Festival and went back to the army on the fifteenth day of the first month of lunar year, but he never came back.

[Cui Binglan, Yao Zhanling’s fourth sister-in-law] He celebrated the Spring Festival with us and returned to the army on the fifteenth day of the first month of lunar year. I asked him to eat some dumplings before departure, but he refused and said he would eat some next time as he was about to miss the vehicle. But, he never came back. He passed away in lunar June the same year.

On the night of July 17, 1969, Yao Zhanling found a military horse lost in the hospital when he worked overtime. However, when they got cross the intersection of road and railway, the horse froze on the railway as it was frightened by the hurtling train.

[Yao Zhenguo, Yao Zhanling’s nephew] It was a passenger train full of passengers. My uncle sacrificed himself for rescuing the train and the horse.

Yao Zhanling jumped onto the rails and pushed the horse away at the moment when the train full of passengers was about to collide with the horse. A major accident was avoided and the horse was rescued at the cost of Yao Zhanling’s life. He was only 23 years old then.

Yao Zhanling’s army granted him First-Class Merit and invited his father and second elder brother to the place where he sacrificed his life for condolence.

[Yao Zhanzhong, Yao Zhanling’s fourth elder brother] As my second elder brother said, my younger brother was dragged out for dozens of meters, and was even smashed into pieces on rails.

Yao Zhanling sacrificed his life for the safety of the masses and military horses. The state and people granted him great honors, and his deed was reported on the front pages of People’s Daily, People’s Liberation Army Daily, Jiangxi Daily, etc. His story was made into a comic book that was widely circulated. During the National Day in 1969, Yao Zhanling’s family members were cordially received by Chairman Mao Zedong.

[Yao Zhenguo, Yao Zhanling’s nephew] On the eve of National Day in 1969, my grandfather came to Beijing together with the delegation of martyrs’ families of Huimin Area, Lijin County, and was cordially received by Chairman Mao Zedong. It was our great honor.

Yao Zhanling not only embodied the spirit of Yao’s family, but also the noble quality and character of Hekou, Dongying, Shandong and the people’s army. We will always remember Yao Zhanling’s heroic image and continue to praise and pass on his heroic deeds. Having remained for over half a centuary, the spirit of this outstanding CPC member will inspire thousands of latecomers to stay true to their missions and forge ahead for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.