23 September, 2019
Good morning CO 1AMB, various depot KAH, fellow batchmates and 1AMBians,
It has been 586 days since the first day I stepped into 1AMB. That sounds like a very long period of time. Yes, indeed, I ain’t going to lie. It felt so great yet surreal to be standing here right now, looking at all my batchmates in front of me, on the verge of completing our 2-year service.
We were once recruits, taking the ferry – some for the very first time – to the resort called Tekong. It was a moment of mixed feelings because we knew a little too much of what is expected of us during BMT.
Some of us were excited, maybe because you get to live your dream as a character in your First-Person Shooter game, living in barracks, holding a gun.
Some of us were overwhelmed, maybe because you watched too much Ah Boys to Men and were afraid to be tekan by your sergeants, signing extras, doing unlimited sets of 20 push-ups.
Some of us were clueless and emotionless but because this is a process of growing up as a Singaporean son, you have had no choice but to report for enlistment.
I was the third kind of recruit. I knew it was my duty as a citizen to train, to protect, to fight for what’s around me – my parents, my friends, my people, and the foundation this country is being built upon. I remember sitting by window seat, looking out to the vast sea, allowing the rhythm of the crashing wave accompany me through the journey while envisioning my military life over the next two years.
Fast forward a month later, I found myself in OETI, training to be an armour technician. I have no clue, no clue at all why I was placed there. I graduated with a Diploma in Chinese Media & Communication, it has nothing to do with science, nor engineering. I felt out of place when my peers seems rather confident in answering questions by our instructors. I was the most clueless person, no doubt.
Yet, thankfully, my peers were all very helpful. They showed me their notes and even explained to me of concepts that I was unsure of. It is camaraderie shown by them that helped me get hold of the basic concepts, that helped me through this rather steep learning curve. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be trained in 3 different platforms – Bionix, Bronco and Leopard. Without them, I would be overwhelmed by the theory and concepts so stranger to me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to bring home the honour of being the Best Recruit.
On a very significant 15 February last year, I came into 1AMB as a fresh graduate from OETI. The month ahead was another period of settling down and adjusting to another new environment – our 3rd new environment in less than 6 months.
Gedong was a whole new place to me. When I thought Tekong was far enough, I never expect Gedong was so much further. The road to Gedong is depressing, I think we all agree with that. There was no scenery at all, no vast sea, no sounds of the crashing waves. All that were left were spooky cemeteries, remnants of the old Neo Tiew Estate and rows and rows of plantation.
As much as how Gedong might seems depressing at the first glance, it turns out to be the main highlight of my 2 years in service.
This is where I learnt more about the Leopard Main Battle Tank through the regulars who are so willing to pass on their knowledge to us.
This is where I forged closer bonds with my batchmates, supporting each other during times of need. We worked together, played together, got scolded together, clean our bunks together and even nights out together.
This is where I was given the opportunity to be grow and be nurtured into a section commander, a leader to lead my men towards the betterment of our depot.
This is where all of us fought together day and sometimes, night, to maintain or even improve our vehicle turnover rate, to support our combatant counterparts in all their trainings and exercises.
This is where my mentors and friends are and I am thankful for them to walk this journey with me.
To the new OJE guys, this is just the beginning of your life as an armour technician. Learn whatever you can and do whatever you could. Serve with pride and loyalty. Though we might not be like the combatants, driving the vehicles out for battle or engaging the enemy face to face. But keep this in mind, each vocation is like our body part, and only when they work together, the body could function.
For without the hull mechanics, there will be no chance the vehicle could move out for battle.
For without the turret mechanics, we will not be able to engage the enemy and deter them with a display of our firepower.
For without the comms technicians, we will not be able to sustain a proper channel for communication during battle.
Every vocation, and every single one of you counted. I once told my fellow batchmates that no matter where you are from, you pledged your loyalty to the flag. No matter who your boss, your superior is, you work not for them but for the uniform you are wearing. No matter which unit you are supporting, you are involved in the defence capability of the state. This is your country and mine, and we play our individual parts
I know how tough it is to adjust to a military lifestyle – the discipline and regimentation. Some of you are still struggling with it till today, but it is normal. I understand because I’ve been through all these.
But remember, when you walked through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark;
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams will be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with your hope in your heart, and You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Now turn to your buddy to the left and right side of you and say, “Thank you for being here with me, and we will survive this together.”
I hope you guys will carry this battalion on, bring out your fighting spirit and always strive for your best. For loyalty, honour and a willing heart.
And this is 3SG Eddy signing off.
And to my fellow batchmates, ORD loh.