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 sixth story of the series.
Lei Feng is one of the ten model heroes of the PLA whose portraits are widely hung in the clubs, military history halls, cultural activity centers and galleries in barracks of the PLA’s company-level troop units. He won Second Class Citation for Merits once and Third Class Citation for Merits twice. In 2009, he was selected as “100 Moving China Figures since the founding of the People’s Republic of China” and titled as the “Most Admirable Fighter”.
Originally named Lei Zhengxing, Lei Feng was born in a poor rural family in Wangcheng county (today’s Wangcheng district of Changsha) of Hunan province in 1940. He became an orphan at the age of 7 and was brought up by his townsman.
In August 1949, Wangcheng was liberated, and little Lei Feng, with the care of the Party and the people’s government, joined the Children’s Corps and was among the first batch to join the Chinese Communist Young Pioneers in the primary school. In the New China, he grew up happily. When he grew up, Lei Feng joined the Angang Steel Company in northeast China’s Liaoning province in November 1958 to become a tractor and bulldozer driver. This hard-working young man was titled as “Model Worker”, “Advanced Worker” and “Socialist Construction Activist” many times.
In January 1960, Lei Feng was enlisted and assigned to an engineering regiment of the PLA stationed in Fushun of Liaoning province; in November that year, he joined the Communist Party of China.
He wrote in his dairy that for the revolutionary cause, the role of a person is just like a screw in a machine, and he was willing to be a screw forever. With this “screw” spirit, he studied hard and worked diligently at every position he was assigned to, achieving extraordinary feats in ordinary positions. When he was assigned to be a truck driver in a transportation company, he delved into driving techniques. He usually stood behind the bus driver to observe how the driver dealt with the complex situations when taking buses in the city. While practicing hard the driving skills to become a qualified driver, Lei Feng was also proactive in learning auto repair technology. When he was promoted to be a squad leader, he took the lead in all work and made his squad an advanced unit.
Lei Feng served the people heart and soul and took “serving others without any thought of self-interests” as his motto and practiced it with concrete actions, devoting his short life to the endless cause of serving the people. Lei lived a thrifty and simple life, saved his money to help disaster-hit civilians and fellow service members in need, and often did voluntary work at public places on holidays and in his spare time. When making business trips, he would help train conductors serve the passengers and do cleaning in the carriages the minute he boarded the train.
On August 15, 1962, the 22-year-old Lei Feng died in an accident when performing a transportation task. During his short length of military service of two years and eight months, Lei Feng was awarded the second-class merit once and the third-class merit twice, honored as the “model Communist Youth League member”, “model of frugality”, and selected as a deputy to the Fushun municipal people’s congress in 1961.
Lei Feng’s exemplary deeds and lofty ideas exerted great influence both in the military and the society. On March 5, 1963, China’s national newspapers including the People’s Daily, PLA Daily, Guangming Daily and China Youth Daily all published Mao Zedong’s inscription “Learn From Comrade Lei Feng.” In the past decades, the activity of learning from Lei Feng has been vigorously carried out throughout the country and produced extensive and far-reaching social influence with a large number of advanced collectives and model figures of Lei Feng style having emerged.