Sinh Ton Dong island lies in the north of the Truong Sa archipelago. From afar, it is a green island dotted with red roofed houses. The sand beaches along two sides of the island look like the wings of a swallow, a common bird on the island. To reach the island, we have to cross a field of stakes, which were there decades ago to help the island withstand strong winds and waves. These poles support trays of sand in which swallows can build their nests. Today, Sinh Ton Dong Island is a symbol of vitality and courage of the Truong Sa archipelago. Colonel Nguyen Duc Du, Deputy Chief of the island, says: “This island belongs to the second group of islands in the Truong Sa archipelago. It is a bulwark defending national sea sovereignty. The soldiers on the island are always ready to defend peace and stability on Truong Sa Thanks to assistance from the Party, State and people, living conditions on the island have improved noticeably. Each year we welcome many groups of visitors from the mainland. ““It’s easy for us to receive daily news reports from the mainland. This helps us fulfill our tasks and deal with any situation on the island. We now have TVs, radios, and computers. A library was also built to enable us to acquire new knowledge.”
Sinh Ton Dong is a coral island, so it is difficult to grow vegetables due to lack of soil and fresh water. But, the soldiers on the island to the impossible. Today, one can find on the island “gardens” full of vegetables, ducks and chickens. Captain Doan Van Cong, Head of the Logistics Department, says: “We utilize all available water resources to grow vegetables. We have built ponds on the island. We are responsible for supplying 80% of the island’s vegetables- about 5 tons. We produce two tons of poultry and pigs per year. We currently have about 200 chickens, ducks and geese and 10 pigs.”
Despite the harsh climate, the island is vital with a large green area covered with trees. Colonel Du says everyone on the island tries to make Sinh Ton Dong a green, clean, beautiful island: “We are very interested in planting trees on the island. We call on each child to plant two or three trees on every special occasion. Sinh Ton Dong island has become a green island”.
The soldiers stationed on the island provide fishermen operating throughout the archipelagos of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa shelter during the frequent typhoons. Colonel Du says: “Last year, we managed to save a fisherman suffering from appendicitis. He had a stomachache for 20 hours before being brought to the island. The doctor have performed emergency surgery and saved him. That is a beautiful memory we will never forget.”
We leave the island at dusk nurturing in our hearts the soldiers’ warm sentiments.