Qian Jianmin pose in uniform wearing badges. [Photo from web]
A 94-year-old visually handicapped WWII veteran from eastern city of Wuxi finally fulfilled his long-held dream of touching and feeling China's latest tanks on Sunday, six days after his wish was posted on weibo, or micro blog, by a volunteer.
Qian Jianmin, who fought with the China's expeditionary force against Japan on the frontline in Myanmar in 1940s, set off on the dream-fulfilling trip escorted by family members and volunteers, on the early morning of Dec 11.
Qian, wearing his uniform and a badge commemorating the 70th anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War victory, was received by troops in Suzhou city, about one-hour ride from Wuxi, after a weibo post about Qian's wish posted by a volunteer from a veteran care organization in his hometown went viral.
The post was forwarded more than 28,000 times and attracted more than 30,000 likes and nearly 3,000 comments as of December 12.
Screenshot of the Sina Weibo post about Qian Jianmin's wish.
Six tanks were presented to Qian and he was honored by the soldiers currently serving the country, said Yuan Jian, the director of the veteran care organization.
"Assisted by the soldiers, Qian began to touch and feel the tanks. He walked slowly, feeling the front part first, then circled the whole body and kept sharing the differences between old and new tanks. He was so thrilled that his hands stayed on the tanks for a long time," Yuan told Beijing Youth Daily.
He even shed tears when his hands touched the tanks, one volunteer said. "We could sense his excitement though his eyes can't see the world."
Qian, who studied at the Ground Force Mechanization Institute in Southwest China's Chongqing in 1940 and got diploma from the renowned Huangpu Military Academy in early 1943, has a unique interest in armored vehicles.
He was later asked if there were other things on his wish list. "I became blind when I was 24. As a disabled man, I have lived for 70 years now. I'm grateful that I got so much help from the society, so I hope to donate my body for medical research after my death. This may be the last thing I can do for my country," Qian told Beijing Youth Daily.
And he does not regret being a soldier or going to the frontline to fight in the World War II. "I have never even considered it a misfortune to have no eyes," added Qian.
A photo taken in 1945 when Qian Jianmin was young and not visually handicapped. [Photo from web]