A Journey to Live, An Experience to Remember
On the morning of 23rd June 2004, fresh young men embraced their loved ones on the Bukit Panjang Camp Parade Square, picked up their belongings, and took their first step into the unknown that is National Service. Following their platoon sergeants up the slope towards their bunks, they were filled with apprehension, anxiety and even fear. It was the beginning of the 12th Mono Intake for the 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
The start of PTP heralded a new chapter in the lives of these young men. The sacred task of defending the country had fallen on these fresh-faced recruits, and they took on the challenge with much relish. Led by their eager commanders, they were taught the basic soldiering skills, from improving physical fitness to learning how to master their weapons. At the same time, lessons in the SAF Core values and the reasons for NS were imparted to shape their hearts and beliefs. The rich heritage of the Battalion was shared with these young soldiers over night-snack, to breed the aspirations for this Mono-Intake to write their own story in the hallowed annals of the Stingray Battalion. LTC Fadzully, CO 5 SIR, crafted his vision for the Battalion succinctly in 3 words: Dare, Dream, Deliver. Commanders and men alike held the vision close to their heart, and sought to achieve this in the myriad of endeavours the Battalion would undertake in the 2 years ahead.
The Battalion HQ believed strongly in training the core soldiering skills, and that served as the main thrust in all our training activities over the 2 years. The recruits experienced FIBUA fighting during BMT, as well as a taste of River Crossing, both very delightful tasters of better things to come. The soldiers also spent more time in the field than syllabus required, to better acclimatise them to the rigours of soldiering, and this stood the Battalion in good stead during the hectic 2nd year. This was made worse by the fact that the Stingray Battalion would bring rain every time it went outfield. By the time AIT, Section Training and Platoon Training were over, the soldiers were seasoned and fought well in the toughest of conditions.
Company and Battalion training were memorable, as the Battalion designed long missions to stretch the commanders and men to their physical limits. There were no shortcuts and most definitely no relenting when it came to training in the field, and a mixture of rain, fatigue, effective leadership, long walks, hard fights and many nights under the stars conspired to build strong friendships among friends and staunch respect for the leaders of these men. The Battalion sharpened its skills for its core business, and built the intangible aspects of camaraderie and trust along the way. COL Yeo See Peng, then Comd 3 SIB, declared the Battalion operationally ready on 13 May 05, after 4 days of Ex Buckspeed that consisted of little sleep and plenty of rain. At that point, the Battalion was a finely tuned and highly motivated fighting unit, ready to take on the world.
And take on the world we did. The Battalion was thrust into the maelstrom that was NDP 05, and we spent almost 3 months preparing for the nation's 40th Birthday celebrations. Our task was the Dynamic show, as part of Carnival @ Marina. 5 SIR soldiers worked tirelessly under torrid weather conditions, whether as Show participants, Show Support or SICUS. From 6 to 14 August, the members of 5 SIR gave everything to make each show a good one. All the late nights and exhausting labor paid off when we saw the crowds thronging the Marina Padang, looking up at the various fireworks displays and us knowing we had worked together as a Battalion to give this present to our country and our fellow Singaporeans.
From the color and lights of NDP, 5 SIR was immediately involved in jungle training overseas. Each soldier completed the Navigation and Jungle Village packages, and the respective companies completed their various exercise requirements successfully. The confidence of the men soared when they realised the magnitude of their achievements. The Battalion was tasked to host TNI-AD in the annual Ex SAFKAR INDOPURA. From the daily interactions with the TNI soldiers, 5 SIR soldiers came to the realization that they could more than hold their own against a professional army, and this continued to add onto their own sense of pride and professionalism. The end of the Exercise was immediately followed by Protection of Installations duties, as soldiers of 5 SIR really defended their country for the 1st time in their lives. From Changi Airport to Jurong Island, 5 SIR soldiers stood firm and ready, fully aware of the importance of the operational duty they were performing. The accumulated lessons of these few events quickly built up the confidence in their own abilities, their sense of pride and achievement, and a growing awareness of the realism of what defence meant to Singapore, their country and their home.
By then, we were coming to the end of the Mono-Intake. The skills of the soldiers had been well honed and their hearts and minds well won by the very experiences that they had been through. The Battalion quickly completed Stage 1 of the ATEC evaluation, before going for a truncated Chinese New Year. On the 4th morning of the New Year, the Stingray Battalion gathered at Changi Airport, and flew off for an overseas exercise. The night before we embarked on ATEC Stage II, soldiers and commanders sat around and shared their hopes and fears. But deep inside, we were quietly confident, both in ourselves and in the Battalion. ATEC would be a culmination of our training, and the Battalion would deliver again. For 5 days and 4 nights, over 3 very tough missions, the Battalion fought hard and well. The men were aggressive and determined to do their best, and the commanders led their platoons and sections with gusto and grit. The CSS trains worked hard and tirelessly, and the Battalion HQ crafted 3 beautiful plans that ultimately resulted in one of the highest scoring Battalions for the WY.
Fast forward to 12 Jun 06: Commanders and men of 5 SIR stood on the same Bukit Panjang Parade Square for their ORD parade, as they transited into their NS Battalion. They stood there as the Best Infantry Unit in the SAF for the WY 2005. In their minds, they looked back at the 2 years of their lives in 5 SIR. Beyond the IPPT, SOC, ATP, and ICCT; beyond the LRI, PATS, SMS audit; more than NDP 05 and SAFKAR INDOPURA, the journey had taken them to places they had never been, experiences they would never have again. They fought side by side with their buddies and commanders, and the bonds that formed would become friendships for a lifetime. Their sacrifices came with mud, rain, blood and sweat, and every man in the Battalion felt the pain every single step of the way. This was THEIR NS Experience, and when the awards collect dust and the photos fade, their memories of this journey would remain etched in their minds forever.
As they marched off the Parade Square for the last time, the magnitude of the moment started sinking in. The young men who stood on the Parade Square 2 years ago were marching off into the sunset as confident and seasoned young adults. The Battalion had produced another generation of fine young citizens, ready to defend the country and contribute to her prosperity and growth, equipped with the necessary values and the relevant lessons on life. They would be good sons, better husbands and great fathers. Bidding farewell to their friends and commanders, tears flowed freely as the soldiers celebrated the end of a wonderful journey. This was the journey of a group of soldiers, who did their best serving their country and gave their all. This was the journey of 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, 12th Mono-Intake, the Stingray Battalion.
Last updated on 27 Feb 2014