Descendants of WWII Soviet pilots visit Martyrs’ Shrine
Descendants of two Soviet pilots who died fighting for the Republic of China during the War of Resistance against Japan that began in 1937 visited the Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei Friday, saying that they were impressed and touched by the site.
Evgeny Opasov, son of pilot Constantin Opasov, said through an interpreter that he was “touched” to visit the shrine, which honors R.O.C. military personnel and foreign soldiers and officers who helped the R.O.C. in the war against Japan, among many others.
He told local reporters after touring the shrine that he really appreciated the visit and was pleased to meet with Taiwanese senior military officers.
Andrey Matveev, grandson of late Soviet pilot Nikolai Matveev, said that it is very important that Taiwan has such a site to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the eight-year war.
The war was part of WWII, in which Japan and the other Axis Powers were defeated by the Allied Powers.
Noting that they both received commemorative medals a day earlier from President Ma Ying-jeou, Matveev said it is very important that Taiwan is marking the anniversary of the end of the war with significant events.
Col. Wang Huei-ming, who received the two visitors on behalf of the Defense Ministry, expressed gratitude for their visit to the shrine.
The shrine not only honors ROC military who died during the war against Japan, but also remembers foreign soldiers who died in helping the R.O.C. in the fight, Wang noted.
During a five-day visit to Taiwan, the visitors will also attend an exhibition organized by Academia Historica featuring the R.O.C.’s victory over Japan in the war and the retrocession of Taiwan following Japanese colonization which will open Saturday.
The exhibition is part of a series of events being held to mark the anniversary of the end of the war.
The activities are being held in Taiwan because it is known formally as the Republic of China.
That was the name used for all of China from 1912 to 1949, but the R.O.C.’s seat of government moved to Taipei after the Nationalist government was defeated by the Communists in the Chinese civil war and retreated to Taiwan.
The two Soviet pilots were part of an aviation volunteer group from the Soviet Union that went to China upon the signing of a military technical assistaw nce agreement between the two countries in August 1937. Between 1937 and 1941, the Soviets provided thousands of military experts, air crew and ground staff to support the R.O.C. Air Force in training and in battle, the Defense Ministry said.
During the four years, the group participated in 10 major battles against Japan, shooting down 459 Japanese planes and sinking more than 100 Japanese ships, the ministry said.
However, more than 200 Soviet volunteer pilots died during that
Evgeny Opasov, left, son of Constantin Opasov, a Soviet pilot who died fighting for the Republic of China during the War of Resistance against Japan, offers a wreath at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei, yesterday.