On September 17, 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a presidential decree to confer national medals and national honorary titles of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on dozens of individuals, in which Mai Xiande was awarded the national honorary title of "the people's hero".
Mai Xiande, a combat hero of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, was born in Raoping County, Guangdong Province, in 1945. He joined the PLA Navy in March 1964 and got admitted to a naval academy in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province. He became a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in August 1965.
After graduation, Mai was assigned to a corvette (Hull No. 611) with the 4th Squadron of the 41st Corvette Group of the PLA Navy to operate electromechanical equipment. On the morning of August 5, 1965, two submarine chasers of the Kuomintang navy, the Jianmen (Hull No. 65) and the Zhangjiang (Hull No. 118), departed from the Zuoying Port in Gaoxiong City of Taiwan and on the evening of the day broke into the waters southeast of Dongshan Island in Fujian Province, aiming to transport spies to the Chinese mainland.
At 6:10 a.m. that very day, the radar of the PLA Navy South China Sea Fleet detected the two enemy warships, which had reached the junctional waters between the Dongshan Island of Fujian and the Nan’ao Island of Guangdong. In response, the Headquarters of the South China Sea Fleet ordered the Shantou Coastal Defense Garrison to be ready for combat. At 23:13, upon receiving battle orders, an assault formation of 6 torpedo speedboats and four corvettes sent by the garrison set sail to engage the two enemy warships.
In the heat of the battle, Mai’s corvette was shot in the engine room, leaving three main engines damaged and all the operators wounded. A high-temperature shell fragment pierced Mai Xiande’s head. The cerebrospinal fluid and blood flew down from his head and bleared his eyes, he fell on the flooe and lost consciousness. After regaining consciousness, Mai Xiande heard the roar of the main engine was weakening. He made a professional judgement that a gas valve screw or a fuel valve screw might be shaken loose. In the dark and violently swaying engine room, with his excellent skills, Mai Xiande groped blindly for and finally found out the loose fuel valve screw and tightened it with a wrench he groped for in the darkness. Then, he pressed his body against the gear box displaced by the shock of explosion to ensure the main engine would recover regular operation and the corvette regain power. Mai held fast to his position for a consecutive 3 hours until 5:22, when the two enemy warships Jianmen and Zhangjiang were sunk, and the PLA Navy won the victory of the sea battle.
After this combat, Mai Xiande was awarded a first-class merit citation. On February 23, 1966, the Ministry of National Defense bestowed him the honorary title of "Combat Hero". The PLA Navy granted the corvette (Hull No. 611) on which Mai Xiande served the honorary title of "Hero Corvette at Sea."