In those days, the working environment at the headquarters of the People’s Army Newspaper (PAN) was boiling with a series of “combat” plans, and missions of reporters and staff were alternately sent to COVID-19 epicenters in Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, and Vinh Phuc provinces and Ho Chi Minh City to cover the pandemic situations and local prevention and control efforts. 

In the office, PAN reporters were impatiently waiting for hot news from “war” correspondents and the harsh reality in Bac Ninh, Bac Giang, Vinh Phuc and Ho Chi Minh City made them unable to stand still.. We were worried that our colleagues would be exhausted or infected with SARS-CoV-2. The more we were worried about them, the more we wanted to be called by the newspaper’s editorial board. We were all ready to undertake the mission to head to those areas. In spite of serving in the military for a long time, only in this situation could we understand the spirit of “making devotion regardless of danger” that generations of the PAN’s soldier-reporters had built and upheld. 

Reporter of the People’s Army Newspaper Pham Van Hieu in a joint photo with children in Abyei in his trip to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in 2022

In the resistance wars against the French colonialists and U.S. imperialists and protection of the national territorial sovereignty and border, soldier-reporters of the newspaper with guns, pens, and cameras, braved dangers to cover the situations in battlefields, and many of them, including Hero of the People's Armed Forces, martyr journalist Le Dinh Du, laid down their lives. The stories about those brave war correspondents are the things that we always have in mind and are proud of since getting into the press and working for the newspaper.

When the COVID-19 pandemic raged the world, Vietnam issued the call “fighting the pandemic is like fighting an enemy.” In response to the call, reporters, including those from the PAN, did not hesitate to shoulder the responsibility with the medical force and bravely headed to COVID-19 epicenters and contributed to the fight using their knowledge, practical experience, responsibility, and enthusiasm.

The spirit continued to be upheld when teams of reporters volunteered to update news related to the large landslides at Rao Trang 3 Hydroelectric Plant in Phong Xuan commune, Phong Dien district, Thua Thien Hue province killing 13 soldiers and at Defense-Economic Mission 337 in Quang Tri province killing 22 soldiers and flooding in Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces.

For military reporters, what make them worry when working in such dangerous situations are not possible dangers awaiting them, but how to collect and report accurate information to readers as quickly as possible. They are fully aware that their articles and information would partly ease people’s worries, enhance the national unity, and arouse and spread the sharing spirit to people across the country. 

This year, after celebrating the lunar New Year 2023 with his family, the PAN’s reporter Pham Van Hieu volunteered to cover the news about the earthquake in Turkey and the search and rescue efforts there. Together with Vietnamese search and rescue force, the young reporter did not mind dangers and came to collapsed buildings to capture vivid photos and videos about the search and rescue efforts, the life of the Turkish people as well as touching stories about overseas Vietnamese in the earthquake-stricken areas. 

In the rare conversation with him when he was covering news in Turkey, Hieu said, “Any reporter of the PAN would do the same in this situation. I have not had much experience, but I hope that I would get more from these circumstances.” Hieu’s simple words touched my heart and made me admire. I also felt a little jealous because those trips are valuable for reporters since they help them get more practical and useful experience.   

Looking back at what generations of the PAN’s soldier-reporters have done over the past more than seven decades, we can see that their journey has never been easy since it may cost their sweat, tears, and even blood.

By Thu Ha

Translated by Tran Hoai