the final part of this reflection series.
i started my time in Bravo Company, which was a training company. Life was good right off the bat. My PC was very flexible, my PS was objective-oriented. Four of us joined an existing batch of specs – meaning we had to adapt to their culture rather than define our own. The great thing was that it was pretty easy to get used to the culture; it was a “do what’s needed” culture which in all honestly is under-rated.
Too many times do we end up overworking, especially from all my experience in training school. The fact that they were all from poly gave me a lot more to learn. Some dear friends I made in the bunk.
The batch the ORD-ed way before me – PC Charles Bey, 1SG Tank, Jeff, Wenbin, AJ, Yonglin (the monster), Sherwin, Ryan, Yi Hao, Zhen Hao, Jay, Wei Jie, Jon, Rico, Victor, Wee Tong, Edward, Don, Yongli, Derek, Joshua, Wen Jian and everyone else. Lots of fun.
My RSM disrupted my regular NS routine very early and asked if I wanted to be a part of NDP, as part of the Colour Party. Usually, only regular WOSPEC are asked to take on this role, but they were extending the privilege to me. It was a tricky choice cos I had just started The Hidden Good. But with Leon’s agreement , I decided to expand my exposure. NDP is something everyone has to participate in at least once right?
It was one of the longest, most tiring journeys I ever took. Footdrills are not just monotonous and repetitive, there’s almost nothing to look forward to other than the final day. Every Saturday for four months were burned, and that disrupted my normal work schedule. It was easy for a lot of tongues to swag during this period.
But with good friends made on site, we grew closer. From my Ensign, Dickson, and my orderly Hongbin, to the people from other formations and services, not only did I learn a lot about the Army, I learnt a lot about MINDEF and about doing Tri-Service wide activities.
On the final day, I remember the strong sense of pride standing in front of the nation, and marching through the crowd. People pointed to you and said “look at that handsome man” . That was a day to remember. Four months of tireless training and we finally reached here.
Gerald, Jiarui, Meng Yuan, Elvis, Wen Jie, Chen Rong, Brandon, Kaisheng, All the Parade SMs and all the Support Personnel from Air Force – thanks for making the NDP journey a proud one.
Immediately once I came back, I only lingered around for a while before going off for my Platoon Sergeant Course. This time, it wasn’t so much about learning anything rigid – it was experiencing sharing back in ETI. Something like an MBA course. I learnt a lot about how other Engineer Units functioned and some best practices. Being a PS was somewhat more organisational, and required a good balance between being in the office and on the ground. We were neither one nor the other.
Small batches come together fast. We hitched up pretty well , and got friendly fast. It was a great 3 weeks. None of us wanted to go back.
Thanks to Boon, Ah Tu, Adrian,Yong Jie, Raymond, Alan, De Jun, Joshua, Qing Gui, Ardy, Zhenguang, Putra, Darren, Amos, Wai Hon, Yunus for the wonderful new experiences. I’m glad we kept in touch.
When I came back, things had more or less shifted. The platoon was still there but I had new 3SGs, my new PC had settled in and the new command team was in place.
LTC Kenneth who I deeply respected and admired had been posted out, and MAJ Lim had posted in. Warrant Chew had taken over as BSM recently as well. My CSM had changed to Warrant Andrew – basically this happens a lot in the army. Luckily my RSM , Warrant Chua was still there – he was the biggest enabler of my whole army career – someone I respected a lot.
My PC was an amazing person to work with. I came to deeply respect his thought process, but more importantly the amount of care and concern he gives to his soldiers. He is really a leader with a heart. LTA Lee Cheng Qian , I will proudly salute you anyday. He honoured his word, and worked on what was necessary, rewarding fairly yet remaining strict in his principles.
My 3SGs are really last-mile leaders. I didn’t have to micromanage with them at all – they were incredibly capable and burgeoning with soft and hard leadership. Shawn (now a 2SG of course), Yao Chen, Kenneth, Chester, Colin, Nigel, Ming Zhe. The platoon is in good hands.
My platoon – I’m damn proud of them. I wasn’t there a lot – being pulled out for all kinds of activities, and when I was finally back it was time to ORD. In fact , as I type this I’m booking back in for the last time…
I can’t say I was a very good PS because I wasn’t there a lot – but I tried my best. I did hope to share with them the importance of leading a healthy life while in NS, to care about things, to live for a purpose. These lessons are probably the best I could impart. One year will pass by soon enough guys.
I must give special thanks to my OC, CPT Alastair , CSM Warrant Andrew, S1 CPT Derek, CPT Jerome, S2 CPT Wu, S3 MAJ David, SSG Qiu Guang, SSG Joon Hong, SSG BenMin, 2LT Wen Yang, 2LT Wenbin, 1SG KK, 1SG Vincent, Desmond, Damien, Kenneth, Eric, Gerard, Clarkson, Wei Kwang, Marcus, Sam, Aaron for giving a great working environment. Army is indeed a people organisation – and these people made it survivable.
So there it is, my life in Army in 3 posts. There’s probably a lot more people I met, interacted with, befriended, fought with etc. but I’m sorry if my memory didn’t capture you now. It’s going to be refreshing living as a civilian from tomorrow onwards – to be free.
Reservist Cycles only starts in 5 years so I have little to worry about. Most important in this equation were God, my Family , my BS Group and Church, my Core Friends and my Online Community for taking this journey with me.
Someone like me doesn’t just connect with others easily, he remembers them. He is grateful for the volume of experiences he accumulates, and the treasure of friendship he has plundered. I can’t wait – it’s time to remove this green uniform.