Even if the last time any of our military units saw battle was before 1965 (Konfrontasi – 1SIR), I now realise been wrongly telling people that we don’t have a martial tradition.
I think half a century of SAF makes it a tradition. Some of the operations the SAF have undertaken may not necessarily have been military in purpose, but I’m proud to remember my unit, the 46th Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment, receiving its regimental colours in 1990 as recognition for its role, in 1986, in search and rescue operations during the Hotel New World disaster.
There’ve been missions since, like Ops Flying Eagle, that demonstrate the great capability of our Armed Forces.
It’s been seven years since I attended my last ICT, and twenty six since I first enlisted, and I think my Army mates through the years at 46SAR and 433SAR would agree that the memories we’ve amassed will remain as fresh as ever.
I’m proud to have served in the most formidable Armed Forces in the region – and salute our service personnel past and present on this special SAF Day.
Sungei Gedong Camp, 1990: 297 Days to ROD, as it was known then. We spent so much time in camp, so we were asked to ‘decorate’ our bunks – We, HQ platoon, Attila Combat Team, decided to name ours “The Coconut Grove”.
This was our accommodation at Khao Meng Camp in Kanchanaburi Thailand, October 1989. We had several mishaps, including one fatality, during this our first overseas training exercise. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Near the end of our NSF stint, we were ‘rewarded’ with Exercise Starlight, and had a lot more fun in Taiwan.
August 1990 – local training was still challenging even if we knew Area D inside out. Training grounds were always so crowded with different Army units crisscrossing each other. In Area D alone, I bumped into my brother, serving in 35SCE and a year my junior, at least three times during our NSF days.
August 1990: As the company’s bikey, I was also the OC’s MG Gunner. The CVC helmet is a communications device – there’s a toggle that switches between intercom (within the combat vehicle’s crew) and company/battalion radio frequency network. We sometimes accidentally jammed the network by leaving the transmit toggle on. The other ingenious thing we did was to black tape our Walkmen earphones to the microphones – and piped in music through our fighting vehicles!
1990: Our driver, among what must now look like antiquated equipment, including a GPS that was the size of a field pack, and which returned a set of numbers which still had to be tallied against Map Grid References.
Rockhampton Airport, October 2005: Griping about budget airlines? Beat this: We got off the plane, waited for them to open the cargo door, and then picked up our bags directly from the aircraft.
Shoal water Bay, Queensland, 2005: Happy NSMan – all smiles before the long haul of a week-long exercise. I deferred from reservist/NS for 8 years, and when I returned, I got posted to 433SAR, a batch of soldiers six years younger than me. Made fast friends nonetheless.
2008: The last In-Camp before being mothballed into Mindef Reserve.
*A ‘butt’ is the end of a firing range, usually made from mounds of earth, to stop the flight of bullets from going beyond the range. When I was in NS, some ranges did not have automated targets, and soldiers took turns holding up wooden targets at the butt. Each group was called a ‘butt party’, and the ‘butt party IC’ would yell ‘butt party fall in!’, when it was his group’s turn to walk to the butt to hold up targets.