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Ma praises model military personnel on Armed Forces Day

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday gave highest credit to the nation's armed forces for their significant contributions in R.O.C. history as he honored model military personnel at a ceremony in Taipei, ahead of Sept. 3, Taiwan's Armed Forces Day.

During his address to honor 48 military personnel and 26 model military units at a ceremony in Taipei, Ma praised the military's significant role in R.O.C. modern history.

Citing a Wednesday event when the military held a special ceremony at the Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei to welcome home the spirits of tens of thousands of Republic of China soldiers who died fighting in Myanmar in World War II, Ma said these military personnel gave their lives to fight alongside Allied Forces against Japan between 1942 and 1944.

Their sacrifice paved the way to secure the Allied Forces' victory in World War II as well as the R.O.C.'s reclamation of Taiwan, he said, adding that they deserve the nationals' highest respect and can serve as a perfect model for all Taiwanese soldiers.

Aside from protecting the nation from possible invasion, the president pointed out that in recent years, the R.O.C. armed forces have also played an important role in natural disaster prevention and post-disaster relief, as shown in the aftermath of two recent tragedies, the Penghu plane crash and the Kaohsiung blasts.

The president also noted that Taiwan's ongoing push to transform into a fully volunteer-based military system has been given a major boost recently after the latest numbers showed a record-high number of people have applied to join the R.O.C. armed forces this year.

Voluntary Recruitment Success

According to statistics released by the Ministry of National Defense (MND), a total of 21,294 men and women have applied to join the Taiwan military since January.

The number is almost double that of the MND's original annual target of 10,557.

The president attributed the recruitment success to a salary raise for volunteer soldiers that was approved by the government earlier this year as well as a series of reforms within the military to offer a better environment for military personnel.

Yesterday's ceremony was joined by a total of 48 military personnel, 26 military units, who were honored as models. The military also honored 54 civilians for their support to the armed forces.

This year marks the first time a soldier was chosen as a model military member. The soldier is private first class Cho Teng (卓藤) of the Sixth Army Corps Cho was recognized for his post-typhoon relief efforts in Yilan last year, according to the MND.

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