100 days to ORD.
Time flies. No seriously, time fucking flies. I could still remember the day that i enlisted: fearful of my already injured back (slip-disk) , anxious and dying to prove myself worthy of being called a commando. Yet, here we are now, with 100 days of service left before we go our separate ways into the working and studying world.
The journey here was tough. Looking back, I did not regret coming to Hendon at all. There were times when I really lost heart and had nothing to fight for; yet, my buddies were the ones that spurred me on, pushed me forward. We took turns to take care of each other, covered each other’s asses.
After earning and donning the elusive red beret, i thought things would actually tone down and be slower. On the contrary, things picked up and training grew even more hardcore. Every week the distance we walked would be slightly further and the load we carried would be even heavier. Our rights, heh what rights, werent even given to us, even though we were promised. Moreover, it was miserable watching our batch boys, our friends on the other side having a lull period while we preparing for the biggest fight of our NS life.
Week after week, mission after mission, the day finally came when we had to go for our ATEC or Army Test Evaluation Centre. We packed our bags and headed overseas for a month. Though things werent as bad compared to the times I went there as a CSLC trainee, the feeling of being away from home really sucked.
Our evaluation soon came. Planning and ops orders were on everyone’s mind. Every detachment had a niche in their specific staff aids. Being the DS of the sandmodel det, It wasnt easy dividing the workload and getting people to do stuff; BUT my det was automatic, no one wanted to skyve and avoid work. We had spent a lot of time and money beforehand preparing our symbols, vegetations and structures for our model. Moreover, the constant change of scale made things harder when we were building our model.
When the ATEC commander was present during the AOP, he made a comment which made me beam with pride. “This is how sandmodels should be made.” It was a testament to our hardwork and discipline. Being confidential, i’m unable to upload the pictures of it but they’ll forever be our pride. After the planning came the actual mission itself.
The buildup training for ATEC was really useful. One could only imagine our shag faces. “Do it for your predecessors and your juniors. You’ve been riding on the honour and glory of your seniors and it’s time to do your part for the battalion.” This was what OC5 told us. We pushed on, not giving up, motivating each other on the way. The opfor was really quite a challenge but we overcame it with our fast thinking on the battlefield itself.
The defining moment of this whole journey in NS for me was executing an airborne jump as a battalion, before marching 20+ km, and finally conquered an objective after which firmly anchored the best combat unit win. We had received letters from our loved ones who told us not to worry about home and to push on. Tears and blood were both shed but were fruitful when the results of BCU were announced.
Returning to Singapore victorious, my NS journey was shocked once again with a change in leadership role. Till now, im in denial and deep down inside, i do know that i truly earned that role.
Ex Chandrapura soon came. We had our bilateral exercise with our fellow SF counterparts in Indonesia, the Kopassus. They were a fine breed of men, fit, fierce, humble and hospitable. We exchanged battle tactics and ended off the whole exercise with an airborne jump together. I had earned my foreign wing and was beaming with pride when their commander pinned the wings on my chest. :)
Parade rehearsals soon came. SAF day and NDP rehearsals drained our weekends faster than the mosquitoes in Tekong. Going to other camps, we met our elite counterparts for the first time. Heh this Commando vs Naval Diver thing gets way out of hand. We had our mutual respect for each other but each still felt superior. Well, the commander for the whole SOTF’s our chief, so……. Still, feeling tired and shag from all the rehearsals was all totally worth it when CO received the state flag from the president on SAF day in front of us on the parade square. Every commando on that day at SAFTI was beaming with pride regardless on which camps they were posted at.
National Day Parade, Singapore’s grandest parade. We had earned and fought hard for our spot and were now blessed being able to march inside it. Rehearsals after rehearsals, the actual day soon came. Marching in front of the whole of singapore, I was so lucky to garner some screen time!!!! :)
This journey so far would not have been possible without my beloved batch boys and company mates. 5th company, the only remaining company in the battalion, that has been to war and won. It would be up to us to set the standard for the juniors ahead. This camaraderie would not have been possible if not for us being through so much and us suffering together as one. Though I did not manage to achieve my dream as an NSF ranger due to this year’s inhouse SFQC rgr, my NS experience has not been diminished. To those reading this still deciding whether it’s worth enlisting as a commando or those without a beret yet, the experience here in Hendon far exceeds those that enlist in Tekong. The mind is indeed stronger than the body. If you really want it, you can achieve it. Injuries (slip disk and worn out knee for me) aside, if you tell yourself to ignore the pain, soon it’ll go away. For Honour and Glory!!!!