Woman veteran donates 10m yuan to hometown

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Ma Xu, 86 years old and China's first female paratrooper, donated her entire life savings of 10 million yuan ($1.45 million) to her hometown in Mulan county, Harbin city, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, the Beijing News reported via WeChat on Wednesday.

Ma Xu.

Ma was born to a doctor's family in Mulan county in 1932. Her grandfather treated royal family members during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). 

She joined the People's Liberation Army as a military doctor in 1947, and applied to become a paratrooper in 1961 while working as a medical staffer in an airborne troop. It was not an easy thing; at that time, there were no female paratroopers in a division of over 10,000.

She was so determined to take part she even volunteered for sterilization. But her application still failed at first.

"I was only 1.53 meters high and weighed less than 37.5 kg, not up to the physical standards for a paratrooper. And I was just married, so my commander did not approve my request," Ma said. "But I did not give up. I learned parachuting secretly, as others were training. When they finished, I went to the ground to practice what I had learned in the moonlight.”

After some time, she made the request again with a letter written in her own blood, which said "How can I be called a paratrooper in an airborne troop if I cannot do parachute jumps? I hope my request can be approved. I promise to be a qualified paratrooper."

After proving she could jump as well as others did, she was accepted.

Besides being the first, She was the woman paratrooper who made over 140 parachuting jumps across 20-odd years, the most for any female paratrooper. She also set a national record as the oldest enlisted woman to do a parachute jump.

The donation was the biggest Mulan county has ever received and will be used to support local education and public welfare.

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