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Taiwanese mercenary battles in eight years of foreign wars for France

The China Post news staff--Standing just below 5 foot 6, Xie Bing-xi (謝秉希) from Jiufen, is far from what most would imagine a fierce combat soldier should be. But he has a shocking story of fighting wars for eight years that were never his to fight.

Growing up, Xie had always dreamed of fighting for the army. Fresh out of college, Xie met a former Swedish military officer who encouraged him to pursue his dreams of becoming a soldier.

In 2003, Xie cut off all means of retreat, sold everything he had in Taiwan, packed his bags and flew to France with gritty determination to register for the French Foreign Legion.

The French Foreign Legion, a military service wing of the French army exclusively for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French military, has extremely demanding physical requirements.” Excellent marks by national standards can only scrape by a passing score in the French military,” said Xie.

After teeth-clenched training and utilizing every scrap of willpower, Xie was accepted into the force, specializing in field artillery, amphibious warfare and medicine. He finally became a medic corporal in the combat engineering division, leading his squad into war zones and battles.

In eight years as a mercenary, Xie has been deployed to war-torn countries all over the world, such as Kosovo, Somalia and even Afghanistan, where he guarded borders, fought terrorists, waged jungle warfare and more.

Xie remembers many grueling experiences where life and death meet in the blink of an eye, one of which was when a fellow Congolese soldier was shot in the back of the head, collapsing into the military vehicle in a pool of blood. Many of his soldiers would pass onto him their dying wills to send home whenever his unit left for a mission. “I did not write a will,” said Xie; he just wished to be cremated and have his ashes returned to his hometown, Jiufen, to be taken into the skies by the wind.

When Xie was not in combat, his sole form of entertainment during his few holidays was patronizing the stationed American military pubs. On several occasions, Xie would haul his accumulated beer quota (the French army distributes two cans of beer per day to each soldier) to the pubs, encountering great acquaintances, and exchanging languages and stories. “Beer's the boss. As long as you have beer, everyone — especially the American soldiers — treat you like a brother,” said Xie.

After eight excruciating years of service in the French Foreign Legion, Xie saved enough from his annual salary of NT$1.5 million and bought a modest Parisian flat, which he rents out for a monthly income. Upon coming back to Taiwan, immigration officers realized he had not yet completed mandatory military service and Xie was sent off to serve in the Taiwanese military in a secretarial position.

September 30, 2012    miller.henry641@
Bravo Bravo Corporal Xie!
Should we meet, the beer is on my chit.
September 30, 2012    nutty_azn@
"Upon coming back to Taiwan, immigration officers realized he had not yet completed mandatory military service and Xie was sent off to serve in the Taiwanese military in a secretarial position."

With his training, he should have been made Trainer in other areas to improve combat skills of the Taiwanese Soldiers.
September 30, 2012    Leiduowen@
A great "happy ending" to a story I've read by dozens, with frugality as a nice bonus. Except that Kosovo is not a country but a stolen Serbian province ruled by drug tycoons, supported by the U.S. military with a tacit consent of the EU diplomacy, each of them having their business share. That's the interests for which these mercenaries are deployed and sacrifice their no-name lives.
October 6, 2012    hell@
"Upon coming back to Taiwan, immigration officers realized he had not yet completed mandatory military service and Xie was sent off to serve in the Taiwanese military in a secretarial position."
Many soldiers here haven't experienced what this guy went through. He must be allowed to train our pussy soldiers and let it be known what combat training really is. Better yet, make this guy a general! He deserves it.
October 8, 2012    conorwhite@
Why call him a mercenary?
It says he joined to be a soldier, not simply to be a hired gun.
October 10, 2012    nsnq16@
French Foreign Legion is considered in the ranks of Special Operation Units or Special Forces. I got some info from an old friend of mine who served under the US Navy Special Operations (now retired). National standards for the regular military any where in the world would just "scrape by a passing score" when you compare them against Special Operations units. In other words, you cannot compare apples and oranges.

By the way, my friend and his unit did cross training with the Taiwanese Special Ops personnel (as do many other nations, a friendly exchange). All he could be allowed to say was that their unit had the most sincere respect for the Taiwanese counterpart. Trust me, Taiwanese Special Ops personnel would do well in any foreign Special Unit, including the French Foreign Legion.

China Post should not disrespect Taiwanese soldiers. There are plenty of good ones here. BRAVO ZULU!
October 10, 2012    curtisakbar@
Why is this news? Some guy went to the foreign legion and then had the mockery of being told to serve in the Taiwanese army... OK I enjoy the humour of this story and will joke about it with my colleagues tomorrow at work :D
February 7, 2013    eee@
nutty_azn@ wrote:
"Upon coming back to Taiwan, immigration officers realized he had not yet completed mandatory military service and Xie was sent off to serve in the Taiwanese military in a secretarial position."

With his training, he should have been made Trainer in other areas to improve combat skills of the Taiwanese Soldiers.
I bet they did this to prevent embarrassment of the existing trainers and officers. Poor guy is probably rotting in a corner cubicle somewhere...
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