Starry Night

I don’t remember many other names now, but I was numb from fatigue. So were Foong, Selvam and Ho Yeo as we lay on the top of our Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Foong asked why.

I said I didn’t know. Ask the stars. A lot of them tonight.

I must have been numb from fatigue, because I didn’t feel much else while lying on the top of the APC.

Foong asked again, what happened?

Not sure. APC overturned. Bravo Company. Someone died.

Why must people die like that? Foong asked the stars again.

I thought of many things then. How the accident happened. How unlucky it was for Bravo Company to be switched to point (leading) company instead of Alpha. How dark it was at 8pm when the command for Order of Movement was given. How it had rained the two days before, making the dirt tracks all but muddy slosh pits. How we had always made fun of Bravo’s incompetence. How I had spent the previous two days riding my recce bike behind and between the tanks and armoured carriers. How I had been tasked to mark out directions at track junctions. How I had seen the false track leading up a steep embankment. How I had judged that that false track would be obvious to all. How I realised I had made the assumption that it would be Alpha Company on point. How I realised that if another company had been on point, they might not have deemed the false track so obvious. How I realised what might happen when the Order of Movement was given. How I did not actually see the accident. How I realised exactly what had happened when the radio call came in to inform Battalion HQ personnel to collect the deceased’s personal effects from Bravo Company.

I thought of it all, but I couldn’t tell Foong or the rest why and how. Maybe I was just numb from fatigue. And it was late, and kind of peaceful under the Kanchanaburi sky. It had stopped raining and there sure were a lot of stars that night.

Then we fell asleep, and it must have been a good uninterrupted sleep, because we woke up only when the morning sun shone on our faces and threatened to bake us on the metal deck.


PTE Teo Ho Yeo, CFC Tan, myself, CPL Koh, PTE Sng, SSG Ang, Kanchanaburi, Thailand, 20th Oct 1989

Surf stop: Fluffy Stuff
iTunes’ party shuffle is playing a copy of: Night and Day – Ella Fitzgerald – Lady sings the Blues, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn’t steal music.
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29 thoughts on “Starry Night”

  1. I heard bout the APC accident thingy in secondary school…amazing u to read about it now. It’s been so long ago..eons ago… 😐

  2. I heard bout the APC accident thingy in secondary school…amazing u to read about it now. It’s been so long ago..eons ago… 😐

  3. hey
    im a perm-staff at saiyok now,and its nice to know that people actualy write about this god forsaken place…. the armour frame just passed, so was interesting to read about the accident.

  4. hey
    im a perm-staff at saiyok now,and its nice to know that people actualy write about this god forsaken place…. the armour frame just passed, so was interesting to read about the accident.

  5. *sigh* i’ve seen one vehicle overturn in wallaby,fortunately no one was hurt.on a lighter note after seeing those 16 year old pictures; anyone else who’s ever been in an armour battalion realise that the army’s been relying on the same old M113s since…forever.Total defence.

  6. *sigh* i’ve seen one vehicle overturn in wallaby,fortunately no one was hurt.on a lighter note after seeing those 16 year old pictures; anyone else who’s ever been in an armour battalion realise that the army’s been relying on the same old M113s since…forever.Total defence.

  7. armour tends to be a rather dangerous vocation to be in. i’ve had a number of near-death experiences myself. thank goodness i’ve peacefully ord-ed with nothing more than a lifelong loathing for grease.

    -2/4

  8. armour tends to be a rather dangerous vocation to be in. i’ve had a number of near-death experiences myself. thank goodness i’ve peacefully ord-ed with nothing more than a lifelong loathing for grease.

    -2/4

  9. Hi Mr Miyagi. I’ve always been silently supporting your blog until today, when you managed to talk about what happened. I understand the pain you must have gone through all these years. It’s not an easy burden, and I respect you for having managed it all these years.

    I’m sure many people would’ve counselled you about it and told you not to blame yourself. Well, it’s true. Many things happen beyond our control. This includes the judgemental error that you committed.

    I had a similar incident in the past, when I drove overseas. My judgement failed me, and my car turned turtle before bouncing back upright. My friend suffered from a fractured collarbone due to my failure to exercise caution. I was luckier than you in that no one died, and my friend lived to tell me that she didn’t blame me.

    I’m sure nobody blames you, except yourself. I hope you can get over it soon, or that the fact that by being able to write means that you’ve gotten over it. All the best Mr Miyagi. I’d still believe in you and go to battle with you anyday, if we’d ever have the chance, although we all hope not. *fingers crossed*

  10. Hi Mr Miyagi. I’ve always been silently supporting your blog until today, when you managed to talk about what happened. I understand the pain you must have gone through all these years. It’s not an easy burden, and I respect you for having managed it all these years.

    I’m sure many people would’ve counselled you about it and told you not to blame yourself. Well, it’s true. Many things happen beyond our control. This includes the judgemental error that you committed.

    I had a similar incident in the past, when I drove overseas. My judgement failed me, and my car turned turtle before bouncing back upright. My friend suffered from a fractured collarbone due to my failure to exercise caution. I was luckier than you in that no one died, and my friend lived to tell me that she didn’t blame me.

    I’m sure nobody blames you, except yourself. I hope you can get over it soon, or that the fact that by being able to write means that you’ve gotten over it. All the best Mr Miyagi. I’d still believe in you and go to battle with you anyday, if we’d ever have the chance, although we all hope not. *fingers crossed*

  11. You have to feel bad for the guy, but shit happens. On a FEX (field exercise) in 29 Palms, we had a guy run over by an amtrac in the middle of the night. And there’s no shortage of vocational “accidents” in the military. Compared to what the guys are going through now, we had it easy.

    Man, did I love Thailand in ’89, though!

  12. You have to feel bad for the guy, but shit happens. On a FEX (field exercise) in 29 Palms, we had a guy run over by an amtrac in the middle of the night. And there’s no shortage of vocational “accidents” in the military. Compared to what the guys are going through now, we had it easy.

    Man, did I love Thailand in ’89, though!

  13. My rabbit was in the tin can at the time the radio call came in. But I was on the rabbit in the afternoon. One-Eight Charlie rabbit was in One-Eight tin can in the afternoon, and in One-Two Alpha tin can during the night (I think). This makes as much sense to everyone else as Aramaic. Except mebbe Mel Gibson.

  14. My rabbit was in the tin can at the time the radio call came in. But I was on the rabbit in the afternoon. One-Eight Charlie rabbit was in One-Eight tin can in the afternoon, and in One-Two Alpha tin can during the night (I think). This makes as much sense to everyone else as Aramaic. Except mebbe Mel Gibson.

  15. itch.itch.itch.knee.. so.liat…

    One Eight Charlie One Eight Charlie, this One Niner Alpha, over!…..
    FOONG: “Encik, boh response…”
    ENCIK: “si tuo tou put”

  16. itch.itch.itch.knee.. so.liat…

    One Eight Charlie One Eight Charlie, this One Niner Alpha, over!…..
    FOONG: “Encik, boh response…”
    ENCIK: “si tuo tou put”

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