Editor's note: To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, we are launching the “Outstanding CPC Members in the PLA” series, featuring the heroes and role models in the PLA who have made selfless dedication to defending the country, serving the people and building a strong military. The following is the first story of the series.
Zhang Side was born in a poor rural family in Yilong county, Sichuan province in 1915. He joined the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and the Communist Youth League of China in 1933.
In 1935, Zhang participated in the Long March as a member of the Fourth Front Army of the Red Army. After arriving in north Shaanxi in 1936, he studied at the Yunyang School for Honorable Service Members while rehabilitating. Zhang joined the Communist Party of China in 1937.
In the spring of 1938, Zhang Side was assigned to a unit of the Eighth Route Army in Yunyang as squad leader of a guard battalion. Two years later, he was transferred to the guard battalion of the Central Military Commission as communication squad leader.
In November 1942, when the troops were merged and reorganized and the number of military officers was slashed, Zhang was assigned again to the first company of the central guard regiment as a soldier, performing guard duties for leaders of the CPC Central Committee, including Mao Zedong, were working.
In early 1944, Zhang Side, in response to the CPC Central Committee’s call to carry out a self-supporting production campaign in counter-Japanese bases behind the enemy lines, joined a production detachment was appointed as deputy director of a farm. In July that year, he went to the mountains of Ansai county to make charcoal. It was raining on September 5, but Zhang and his commando went into the mountains as usual, never expecting the charcoal kiln to collapse at noon. At the critical moment, Zhang pushed another soldier out of the kiln, but was buried underneath. He was only 29 years old at the time.
On September 8, 1944, more than 1,000 people from the organs directly affiliated to the CPC Central Committee and the central guard regiment held a memorial ceremony for Zhang in Yan’an. Mao Zedong attended the ceremony and delivered a speech entitled “Serve the People. “Our CPC, together with the Eighth Route Army and New Fourth Army under its leadership, are revolutionary forces. Our forces fight for the sole purpose of liberating the people and work for the sole purpose of serving the people’s interests. Comrade Zhang Side is one of us,” Mao said in the speech,
In 2009, Zhang was selected as one of the “100 Heroes and Models Making Extraordinary Contributions to the Founding of the People’s Republic of China”.