Self-discipline is key for PLA Navy’s first woman trainee captain on destroyer

By Global Times – The PLA Daily Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2019/5/9 19:03:41

People visit the destroyer Zhengzhou in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province, in 2016. Photo: VCG

During a combat drill in the East China Sea in March, Wei Huixiao sat in the command room on the missile destroyer Changchun and gave orders to soldiers to deal the finishing blow to the "enemy."

As the first female commander of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy for the destroyer Zhengzhou, Wei drew public attention not only for her current title, but also for her journey from a doctorate student to the commander of a destroyer.  

Switching careers

Wei was born into a Zhuang ethnic family in Baise, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 1977. After graduating from Nanjing University, she worked in Huawei in 2000 as secretary to a senior vice president of the company.

Instead of continuing a career that brought her a yearly salary of 1 million yuan ($147,040), she decided to get a doctorate degree from the Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong Province, and applied to join the PLA. 

In response to people's questions about her choice, Wei was quoted as saying on a TV program on China Central Television that "there are two kinds of values - some like to wear an expensive watch to show his or her social status, while some, including me, prefer that the value of an ordinary watch increases to more than a million yuan after he or she wears it."

Apart from her professional experience in Huawei, Wei was also busy doing charity work. From August 2005 to July 2006, Wei worked as a volunteer teacher in a middle school in Nyingchi, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

She also volunteered her services after the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province in May 2008, helping with donations and transporting essential food for victims. She also worked as a volunteer for the Beijing Olympic Games in August that year. 

Wei admits that every choice she has made in life is due to her nature. Her father and teachers have also exerted an important influence on her. 

A teacher who Wei met when she was a graduate student had dedicated his whole life to geological research, which did not bring fortune or fame, but was of service to the country. From this, Wei learned that "if something has to be done, but there is no one to do it, then I will do it."

But Wei has had to pay for some of her choices. Her father passed away when she was in Tibet and she had no chance to say goodbye to him. Her mother passed away three days before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games and she had to return to Beijing after her funeral. 

All these tough times in her life have taught Wei invaluable lessons. She wrote in her diary that "if today is the last day of my life... I would do what I do as usual because I do what I want to do every day. And when the last day comes, there will be no regrets for me."  

Wei Huixiao holds the torch for the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, on May 15, 2011. Photo: IC

Late start

After getting her doctorate degree, Wei applied to join the PLA Navy. Her previous short experience in the army as a student had stoked her interest in a military career. Since the age limit for joining the army is 35 and Wei graduated at the age of 34, she started to speed up her application. 

She has stuck to a physical training plan since 2009, running four to five kilometers every day. From the second half of 2010, she ran 10 kilometers every day. 

She sent recommendation letters to the relevant departments of the PLA, in which she presented her previous experience and potential to be a qualified solider, and expressed her eagerness to join the army. 

After an assessment, Wei finally donned her uniform as a member of the PLA Navy in January 2012. 

A good start does not mean everything goes as one wishes. Compared to her counterparts in the PLA Navy, Wei has much less knowledge of the army and military training. 

She was once criticized for not standing in the proper manner during a flag raising ceremony. Her previous knowledge did not include how to operate as a PLA Navy officer on a destroyer. 

It usually takes a PLA officer 15 to 20 years to become a captain of a destroyer after graduating from an academy. Wei did not have that much time and had to make extra efforts. 

When working on the Liaoning, Wei took every opportunity to become familiar with the equipment and all aspects of work on the aircraft carrier. When stationed on the Zhengzhou destroyer, she studied through the night to gain knowledge of naval vessels. 

Everyone who knows Wei is impressed by her strict self-discipline as well as her quick growth.

Wei performed excellently during her time at a PLA Navy academy in Dalian. To improve her swimming skills, she swam every morning when the destroyer reached the port. 

Setting a goal to work for is a habit Wei has formed since childhood. "If you never discipline yourself or think about making sacrifices, you can never be a true soldier," she said. 

Li Yigang, former captain of the Zhengzhou, said that Wei knew nothing about naval vessels when she first came to the Zhengzhou in 2015. But one year on, she can give commands with the notes she has taken and can arrange different jobs seamlessly.

Although she has gained the confidence of senior captains and has organized some drills, including those for missile attacks at sea, Wei knows where she needs to improve. She now wants to gain more experience from drills and get better at applying data in real life situations. 

Thanks to her persistent self-discipline, she got through all her assessments and became the first executive officer of the PLA Navy, and was appointed trainee captain for the Zhengzhou in September 2017.

"If you want to believe in something and make it a purpose, you will finally achieve your goal by persistently working on it. When you do it, you will make more people believe that they can also do it," Wei said, noting that her story may encourage more young people to follow their dreams as well as more female PLA officers to make new achievements. 

Global Times - The PLA Daily    
Newspaper headline: Life of service


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