National Geographic : 1959 Mar
FRANCSHOR Wounded Soldier Grimly Endures His Pain Stolid courage, the quality of Quemoy, shows in the face of a man flying to a rest camp in Formosa. Hos pitals and a blood bank await eight stretcher cases aboard the same plane. Nationalist China's 600,000 man armed forces share duty on Quemoy. They also garrison Matsu Island and the Pescadores. Twice a year married troops get a two-week furlough to Formosa to visit their families. 438 have been responsible for this. But what, I wondered, would happen now that Quemoy was under fire. Would the program be wasted? "Wasted? Certainly not," insisted Mr. Hsu. "Look at it this way. If a weak man receives a blow in the face, he may collapse. A strong man can take that same blow and stay on his feet. The strength this program has given the Quemoy farmer in the past six years has made it possible for him to survive." It was another shelling day when Bill and I left Quemoy, and another predawn departure. The Communists were already lobbing a few scattered shells into the island when we drove through the dark to the airport. Some how, though, it seemed unreal. There was no longer any portent in the screech; the blasts held no menace. They might wreck houses, but they couldn't touch people, particularly us. We were detached. Plane Removes Wounded We arrived at the airfield as the familiar C-46 landed. Another crowd of Chinese officers debarked. We started toward the plane, but Colonel Chang touched me on the shoulder. "Wait just a moment, please," he said. "This is an evacuation plane. We have some other passengers." We watched silently while a line of ambulances discharged their cargo. When we climbed the steep ladder, eight stretchers lay on the cabin floor, each holding a bandaged, silent sol dier. Another 21 walking wounded occupied the bucket seats (page 437 and left). Bill and I found seats on the bed rolls piled at the rear of the cabin. The plane struggled into the air, roared low over the water. Dawn filtered through the dusty windows, and Bill busied himself with his cameras. We said little to each other. Sud denly the detachment was gone. This was not a game men were playing on Quemoy, not a gambit in interna tional politics. This was a war. A little one, true, but a real one. And these men we were riding with had played it for keeps.