Home Page >>Columns>>History of PLA


In memory of Yang Yong, Yang Dezhi and Yang Chengwu


PLA Daily 2004-03-12


  On February 14, General Yang Chengwu passed away. Hearing the sad news, an grief-stricken old general who had fought shoulder to shoulder with General Yang Chengwu said, "All three Yangs have now passed away!"

  Who are "Three Yangs?" It is said that during the Red Army's Long March, there was such a saying: there were "Generals of the Yang Family" in the 1st Front Army of the Red Army. At that time, Yang Chengwu was political commissar of the 1st Division, Yang Dezhi was commander of the 2nd Division, while Yang Yong was political commissar of the 4th Division of the 1st Army Group of the Red Army. Three Yangs were then division commanders in their twenties. During the War of Liberation, they had all been promoted to be senior generals of our armed forces, with Yang Dezhi and Yang Chengwu being commanders of the 19th and the 20th Army Groups respectively while Yang Yong commander of the 5th Army Group of the Second Field Army.

  During the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korean, Yang Yong was the commandant of Shijiazhuang Second Advanced Infantry Institute, and I was an editor in an editorial office of the institute's journal and often assigned with the task of sorting out Yang Yong's manuscripts. As time went by, he gave me a title of "irregular secretary". Later Yang submitted his request to the Central Military Commission, asking to join the Chinese volunteers to fight on the Korean battlefield. It is said that Primer Zhou Enlai had intended to send "Three Yangs" to the battlefield to usher in greater success on the battlerfield. Actually at that time Yang Dezhi and Yang Chengwu were already on the Korean battlefield. On April 18, 1953, the Central Military Commission appointed Yang Yong commander of the 20th Group Army of the Chinese People's Volunteers. On July 13, Commander Yang Yong directed 15 divisions to fight the Kinchon Campaign. After 14 days and nights of fierce fighting, our forces smashed the enemy's fierce attack and pushed our position further southward for 160km and wiped out over 50,000 enemy troops.

The first time I met Yang Dezhi was in the summer of 1942 at a rally in commemoration of July 1 in the Hebei-Shandong-Henan Military Region, and I can still remember that he made a speech at the rally. Later he worked in the PLA General Staff Headquarters for 7 years, during which I met him very often as necessitated by my work and I learned a lot from him. After I retired in 1983, I worked as contact secretary for him with the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission for two times. From March to June 1985, Yang acted as honorary chairman of the Chinese Mountaineering Association, I went to Tibet to inspect the work of the mountaineering team on his behalf. When nine team members successfully reached the sixth highest peak in the world, which is 8,201 meters above sea level, I immediately sent a telex to the Chief of the General Staff Yang Dezhi, telling him the good news.

  Yang Chengwu was the youngest among Three Yangs. In 1995, on the occasion of marking the 50 anniversary of the victory of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, I accompanied Yang Chengwu to visit the Anti-Japanese Aggression Picture Exhibition. Looking at a picture of himself commanding an operation against the enemy at the Huangtuling Mountain, he told me excitedly, "In the fall of 1939, commander of a Japanese Independent Mixed Brigade sent troops to attack Laiyuan City from three directions in an attempt to launch a mopping-up campaign against the 1st Military Sub-Command. I directed my troops to launch a war of annihilation and killed over 500 Japanese troops. The so-called "Famous General" of the Japanese brigade was also killed by us…" This operation was one of the important military successes Yang Chengwu had achieved in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

  Time elapses quickly. Now the three old generals have passed away, and I would feel sorrowful whenever I think of them. However their outstanding achievements, urge us to forge ahead courageously. Their noble personality and outstanding military successes will always make it clear to future generations.

I cherish profound memory of the three old generals. Although they have passed away, yet their heroic images will last forever!

  By Zhao Yongtian, soldier of the Eighth Route Army, former deputy director of the Culture Dpartment of the General Political Department of the PLA

  (Mar.12, PLA Daily)