Two Years of Our Lives, Memories for a Lifetime

Two Years of Our Lives, Memories for a Lifetime

Three guys, three different units, but one common aspiration: to make the best out of their two years in their Full-time National Service (NS). We spoke to them to find out more about their contributions during NS, what motivates them and the advice they have for those who are enlisting or have just started their NS journey. 

Coming back home to serve - 2SG (NS) Joash Boey

2SG (NS) Joash Boey with his aunt.

2SG (NS) Joash Boey with his aunt.

2SG (NS) Joash Boey was studying in Australia for the past nine years, spending his primary and secondary education years there, before he returned to serve his Full-time NS after receiving the enlistment letter. He recalled feeling nervous yet excited when he first received the letter to return to serve. "I had already adapted to the Australian culture and was worried that I wouldn't get used to living in Singapore. For a start, I had to re-learn Singlish (chuckles) as well as adapt to the military environment and the many cultures that Singapore has."

However, it turned out that Joash's worries were uncalled for as he soon realised that his Basic Military Training (BMT) and Specialist Cadet School (SCS) days formed one of his best memories of NS. 

"I was obese then, and went through five months of BMT. During then, I lost 19kg and was the fittest I've ever been! Having had the experience of living in the jungle, digging shell-scrapes, as well as going through the tough and challenging exercises moulded me into someone with a stronger heart, mind and body. In SCS, I was also given the opportunity to participate in major exercises and even earned the Golden Bayonet. My BMT and SCS journeys are experiences that I will cherish for life for they have created lifelong friendships and memories." 

After SCS, Joash was posted to 10th Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (10 C4I) Battalion as a Platoon Sergeant (PS). And this, he mentioned, is one of the biggest highlights of his NS. 

"Being a PS in my unit, I performed the role of a detachment commander where we had to support homeland security operations. I was privileged to be deployed to support various operations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits, Trump-Kim Summit and National Day Parade. It always brings me a sense of pride, knowing that I am able to serve our nation in my own ways." 

Besides taking part in operations, Joash was also involved in developing a training programme to increase efficiency and effectiveness of training procedures in the unit. "I was a senior trainer in my company as well and took part in working on a training programme that enhanced the learning process for newly posted-in soldiers and made it easier for them to apply to their training and operations." For his hard work, Joash was awarded the Signal Formation's Letter of Commendation and NSF of the Year award.

2SG (NS) Joash Boey being awarded the Signal Formation's NSF of the Year award by Commander Signal Institute, COL Chua Eng Khim.

2SG (NS) Joash Boey being awarded the Signal Formation's NSF of the Year award by Commander Signal Institute, COL Chua Eng Khim.

Reflecting back, he shared that the award was only possible with the help of many individuals who had an impact on his NS journey. "There are many who have supported and guided me. Besides my Officer Commanding, Company Sergeant Major and Platoon Second-In-Charge, my batch mates were the ones who made the most impact in my NS. Even under tough and stressful situations, we worked through it together and without them, I don't think I would have made it this far."

Having spent a fruitful two years in NS, we asked Joash for some words of advice he has for fellow soldiers who are currently serving, and this is what he has to say:

"At the end of the day, we are serving two years so we might as well give our best. Step out of your comfort zone, maintain a positive attitude towards any tasks and believe that you can achieve anything so long you give it your all. Being a soldier is tough, but it will be all worth it in the end."

Contributing to NS in his own ways - CPL Raphael Yee Jun-Kai

CPL Raphael Yee

CPL Raphael Yee

CPL Raphael Yee was posted to 4th Singapore Armoured Brigade as an Administrative Support Assistant and was assisting the brigade in their day to day operations. Despite being a non-combat role, he gradually learnt that he is able to contribute to NS in his own ways. 

"When I was first posted to Armour as a non-combatant, I felt that I don't deserve the formation patch nor the black beret as I was not out in the field with them. However, when my commanders knew that I was able to code, I started embarking on an app development project and realised I was able to contribute in my own ways too."

Together with other members in the app development team, Raphael managed to successfully code and eventually, the Hand Over Take Over (HOTO) app was completed. 

The app is a digitalised checklist used during the HOTO of Armoured vehicles and has shortened the duration to perform the process of HOTO to 18 mins, down from an hour previously. Besides being more efficient, the app also has added features such as pictures to aid operators in identifying the specific features within the checklist, enhancing their work efficacy. 

When first approached to assist in the project, Raphael was thrilled and conducted many interviews with the guys on the ground to understand their pain points. "When I was approached to help code the app, I wanted to make sure that the app I've helped to create is useful right down to the last man on the ground. Therefore, I talked to many operators and got feedback from them for the design of the app interface."

With a digital interface, the app is also able to create databases for data storage, allowing for faster information archival and retrieval when required. "Previously, HOTO used to be time consuming with many paper documentation required. Now, with a database, searching for information is easier and more efficient," Raphael shared.

Looking back on his NS journey thus far, Raphael is glad that he has been given an opportunity to contribute to the formation and hopes that his work will remain useful for fellow soldiers in the future. "I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be part of this app creation as it has allowed me to contribute to the formation with my own capabilities. I hope that one day, when I become a father and my son gets posted to Armour, he will be using this app to enhance his work process too."

Fighting till the end with his buddies - CFC Hairyl Muhaimin Bin Abdul Rahim

CFC Hairyl Muhaimin Bin Abdul Rahim

CFC Hairyl Muhaimin Bin Abdul Rahim

CFC Hairyl could have collected his pink NRIC next month, and ORD together with most of his buddies who enlisted with him. However, he chose to extend his service for another four months till December to complete the Army Training Evaluation Centre (ATEC) Stage 2 evaluation with his fellow soldiers in 4th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (4 SIR). "I started my training journey with my fellow soldiers in 4 SIR, and even went for overseas exercises with them. I extended my service so I can fight alongside them and go through ATEC evaluation together."

Hairyl's NS journey was not as smooth-sailing as he envisioned it to be. Before enlisting, he wanted to contribute his best to NS as a combatant. However, he was posted to be a storeman. "I was initially disappointed about my posting and wanted to be given the opportunity to be a combatant instead. I enjoy sports a lot and love leading an active lifestyle. When I enlisted, I hoped to be able to enjoy what I do and serve my country at the same time." Dismayed, he did not give up and continued to strive to serve as a combatant. Eventually, he joined the mono intake for 4 SIR as an Infantry trooper.

Since then, he has been through many exercises and one of his most memorable experiences was taking part in an overseas exercise with his unit. "During the exercise, I had the opportunity to fly in a helicopter - something that I've never been through before. This is definitely something I will remember for a long time."

Through his NS experiences, one biggest takeaway he has is discipline. "I used to lack discipline, and just do things my way. However, NS has moulded me to take discipline seriously. I also learnt that people will take you more seriously when you respect them."

Another thing he cherishes from NS is also the brotherhood forged over time. "The brotherhood we've formed here is a huge part of my life now. Everything we do, whether training or eating, we always do it together. No one is left alone and we are very close to each other. I really will miss this camaraderie I have with my fellow soldiers."

Looking back on his NS journey, Hairyl has a word of advice for soldiers who are going to enlist soon. 

"Like many, NS used to be a phase that I have to undergo - two years of tough training. However, these two years really changed me, in a good way. It has helped shaped my character and made me a better person. BMT is really the most memorable experience you will ever have. You will never forget the time spent together and the training you went through. If you ever thought of giving up, remember that your buddies are going through the same experience as you and together, you will be able to do it."

Written by: LCP Gordon Goh
Photography by: LCP Teo Hao Yu