BEIJING, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Du Fuguo, a soldier who lost his eyes and arms in an explosion during a mine clearance operation, was honored by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Wednesday.
Du, who was a demining soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), was awarded the title "role model of our times" at a ceremony in Beijing.
Du's family members and fellow soldiers, as well as representatives from all walks of life, attended the award ceremony.
The 28-year-old soldier was seriously injured in the landmine explosion trying to protect his fellow soldier during the operation in southwest China's Yunnan Province in October last year.
Du would have finished his military service in December 2018, just two months after the explosion.
In 2015, Du and over 400 fellow soldiers started clearing mines in the border area in Yunnan, where over 100 minefields were located.
"I couldn't stay calm after getting to know the villagers living in the area suffered three explosions within 10 years," said Du, who volunteered to participate in the demining operations in 2015.
Du's father wished to become a solider at an early age, which was not fulfilled, while Du Fuguo joined the PLA in 2010.
"I am reflecting what kind of life is truly meaningful and valuable, and the only standard is what has been done for the country and for the people," Du wrote in his application submitted for mine clearance operations.
"When the people are in need and the country is calling upon us, there is not even half a step that I can retreat," he responded when being told mine clearance was dangerous.
A minefield Du worked has deterred local people from growing crops and picking tea. They beat gongs and sounded drums to welcome the arrival of the mine clearance group.
Over the past three years, Du has entered minefields over 1,000 times, defusing more than 2,400 mines and bombs.
"I feel like it is my destiny to carry out this mission and there was a voice calling me to clear the mines," he wrote in his application.
While various equipment has been developed for mine clearance, it is believed that manual demining remains the most efficient method, albeit the most dangerous.
The explosion happened in an afternoon when Du and a fellow soldier tried to defuse a bomb, but it suddenly exploded and Du quickly protected his colleague who was left with only bruises.
"Step back and I'll do the job," Du said before he started the defusing work in which he lost his forearms and eyes.
One month later, in November last year, Du's team members confirmed that the minefield where the explosion took place was safe to be used as farmland, meaning that the three-year demining operation had finished.
In the area where Du was injured, people have named tea picked this year as "Fuguo." They are hoping that Du could come back to have a taste of his eponymous tea.
"Despite my lost hands, I have legs to continue chasing after dreams; despite my lost sight, as long as the sun can rise in my heart, my world remains blazing with color," Du said.