When I was
young I cried all the time. My
grandfather would get very annoyed. However, he was not someone that
would lose his temper so easily. He would ask my mother if he could
hold me. He would then sit down and tell me the story of his life.
It’s a pity I was too young to understand any of what he was
My grandfather with my mother in 1964.
always suspected that my
grandfather had been a soldier at one point in his life. I just never
had a chance to ask or get details. I’m only able to visit Taiwan
every two years or so for only a short amount of time. His voice is
soft and his accented Mandarin is hard for me to understand. Whenever I
call, I can barely understand what he’s saying.
I am now
16 years old and my
grandfather is 83. Though he is very healthy, I believe that if I don't
get the details now, he may forget or he may pass away and his story
may be lost forever.
My grandfather with my grandmother
at their new Taichung house in 1997.
Fu-Mian Wang was
born on July 13, 1925
in the town of Liaoyang
in the Liaoning Province of Northeast
China. His father was a businessman and his mother was a housewife. He
has two siblings; an older sister, who has passed away, and a younger
brother. When my grandfather was fourteen, the Japanese had already
begun their invasion of China.
At the time, the Japanese occupied most of northeast China.
One day, a violent brawl broke out between the Chinese and Japanese
teens in the area. My grandfather quickly joined the
thinking. He shoved a Japanese boy, who fell over and hit his head on a
rock. Not knowing whether the boy was unconscious or dead, my
grandfather fled the scene and told his mother at home. She advised him
to run away to Beijing. My
great grandfather was a well-known businessman in the area and had
friends. When he heard about the incident, he asked one of them to
escort my grandfather to Beijing.
little to no money, my
grandfather had no choice but to enlist in the Chinese Army. Thus, he
was sent to the capital Nanjing
to attend the Huangpu
where his training began. However, after Nanjing was lost, they
were forced to move the school to Chengdu, in the Sichuan
province. My grandfather completed his training in 1943 at the age of
18. He emerged as a Colonel in the National Revolutionary Army. He was
given a horse and assigned to a cavalry division.
grandfather was a part of
numerous campaigns along the Yangtze River and around the
Sichuan basin in efforts to prevent Japanese from advancing into
Sichuan. He recalled that one winter, his cavalry
themselves trapped in the mountains northwest of the Yangtze
River. Without food or aid for weeks, his troops had no
choice but to consume their horses. They even had to scavenge extra
By the end of his military career, he had been
wounded three times. The first bullet grazed his right shoulder,
leaving a scar. His helmet was shot off and another bullet took
off some skin above his right ear. The third time my grandfather was
wounded was through the tendons of his left ankle. This wound never
fully healed and still affects his walking today.
After the War
Following Japan's defeat, the Chinese
Communists and Kuomintang fought for power. My grandfather followed the
Kuomintang to Taiwan, where he lives today.
Though I'm sure he's told me his entire life story when I was young, my
grandfather could not give much more detail. I fear that he has begun
to forget the experiences of his youth. I regret not having interviewed
him earlier, for I'm sure I would've passed it down to my children and grandchildren.
Japanese Occupation of China in
Cavalry of the National Revolutionary Army
1900-1949 Japanese Occupation, 1940. Photograph. 9 Feb. 2009
cavalry of the National Revolutionary Army. Photograph. 7 Nov.
2005. Wikipedia. 9 Feb. 2009
My grandfather and my mother. Personal photograph by author. 1964.
My grandfather and grandmother in Taiwan. Personal photograph
by author. Dec. 1997.
Wang, Fu-Mian. Personal interview. 23 Jan. 2009.