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Copter hero awarded posthumous first-class merit
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Hu Jintao, China's Central Military Commission chairman, signed an order to bestow Senior Colonel Qiu Guanghua with a posthumous first-class merit on June 14. Born in April 1957, Qiu joined the army in April 1974 and the Communist Party of China in June 1976 respectively. In his 34 years of military service, Qiu participated in such key missions as opening air routes from Sichuan to Tibet and Qinghai to Tibet. He also participated in many scientific experiments for national defense and disaster relief missions.

Over his career, Qiu won two second-class merits and four third-class merits for his outstanding service performance.

Since the devastating earthquake jolted Sichuan on May 12, Qiu had actively participated in the disaster relief mission in the worst-hit regions, including Wenchuan, Beichuan and Maoxian.

Before his helicopter crashed on May 31, the crew, led by Qiu Guanghua, had completed 63 flights, transferring 25.8 tons of relief materials, 87 quake-relief workers and 234 victims.

On June 11, searchers found the remains of the missing helicopter and people on board in the mountains near the quake epicenter town Yingxiu. Qiu and another 17 people on board were confirmed dead.

Chengdu Military Command also awarded first-rank merits to the other four crew members, including Li Yue, Wang Huaiyuan, Chen Lin and Zhang Peng.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2008)

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