Our Army goes through countless exercises and operations, constantly training and preparing our soldiers to face any potential threats that might threaten our nation. Threats, however, can arrive in a myriad of different appearances and in this case, a microscopic virus that is threatening Singapore and the world.
To support the Whole-of-Government (WoG) response to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV), Our Army stepped up to the challenge, mobilising our forces to meet the needs of our people. From the enormous task of packing 5.2 million surgical masks, to performing health monitoring and temperature scanning of passengers arriving through Changi Airport, our soldiers have performed commendably in support of the WoG effort.
Health Monitoring Operation
One of the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus is to recognise and contact high-risk individuals who came back from the affected region, so that monitoring can be carried out. This was the tasking given to CPL Kenneth Lim Bo Wen and 2SG Darrel Sahan Peiris, Signal Specialist, 41st Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment (41 SAR).
Being part of the health monitoring operation, CPL Kenneth embraced what seemed like a simple task and executed it responsibly, expressing that he felt "extremely honoured" that he was able to "contribute during this time of need."
CPL Kenneth added that even after his National Service, he will remember his role during this period for a long time to come. "This has taught me many valuable lessons such as to never take things for granted and if we all work together, we are able to deter any potential threats headed our way."
CPL Kenneth Lim Bo Wen, who was part of the health monitoring operation team.
2SG Darrel got notice of his activation whilst at a family gathering. "I actually just booked out in the morning after doing weekend duty. On the contrary to what most people would think as to how I felt, I was excited to be involved in this. My parents were very supportive and felt proud knowing that I was doing my part for the nation."
Although the idea of gathering information and health monitoring might seem dull at first thought, the impact it provides is more than significant. Both CPL Kenneth and 2SG Darrel treated the operation with the same level of vigour as they would for any other exercise, setting an example that our soldiers are always ready to give their best in a plethora of situations.
2SG Darrel Sahan Peiris from 41 SAR
Mask Packing Operation
Our soldiers packing the masks round the clock to ensure they get delivered to the various Community Centres and Clubs.
The mammoth task of packing 5.2 million masks is no small feat, and the men behind this operation worked through day and night to ensure the packing could be completed in time. From getting the masks through suppliers and distributors, to unpacking and repackaging, to finally consolidating and shipping them out to the respective Community Centres and Clubs throughout Singapore, the word 'titanic' is an understatement to describe the scale of this operation.
As part of a team that ensured supplies would be delivered on time from various distributors, 3WO Elfyshah Bin Abdul Hamid, Senior Logistics Warrant Officer, Supply Base East, did his best to ensure that packers would not be inconvenienced and had sufficient stock of the materials needed to produce the final package. 3WO Elfyshah mentioned he was touched by the initiative displayed by his colleagues, both Full-time National Servicemen and Regulars alike.
"As I don't celebrate Chinese New Year, all I can say is that I wholeheartedly salute those who did but still came to help. My previous Commanding Officer, LTC Pak Chun Hua, wasn't even activated but he volunteered to come back and help. He did the same work that I was doing, including packing and unpacking of boxes and transferring. That's leadership by example and this is what matters."
To 3WO Elfyshah, the unfortunate circumstance in which the Army was activated for a real-time operation did not dampen his spirit, but rather catapulted his determination in standing firm and aiding his country.
"This operation epitomised the meaning of Army Ready, Soldier Strong. As a military personnel, I stand ready to serve my country when called upon. It is my honour to be able to contribute to this national effort to help our fellow countrymen in time of need."
3WO Elfyshah Bin Abdul Hamid, who participated in the packing of masks.
For PTE Christopher Chang, a Supply Assistant (General) also from Supply Base East, the sheer scale of the operation shocked him initially. It was an unfathomable amount of boxes but he soon came to realise this as a unique opportunity to help others by contributing in his own way during such times of need. Over three days, PTE Chang and his team worked tirelessly around mountains of boxes to ensure the well-oiled production line doesn't slow down.
"I had a newfound understanding of the grand scale at which logistics operation work. After seeing how well-executed it was, I am more confident in the ability of the SAF to support our nation in times of crisis. This operation also served as a reminder of the important role that logistics play. In the end, my grandparents were able to pick up their packet of masks from the local Community Centre, as would every other household. Thinking back, the few days of hard work put in during the operation was not for my own benefit but for the collective benefit of every Singaporean", shared PTE Chang.
PTE Christopher Chang, Supply Assistant (General) from Supply Base East
LTA Huang Yongyi, Platoon Commander, Supply Base (East) was involved in the packing process as well. In charge of accounting for the packed boxes, doing last checks and linking up with the Transport Battalions for delivery, LTA Huang felt honoured that he was able to play a part in serving fellow Singaporeans.
"It's an honour, being part of the packing crew and having a direct impact in serving Singaporeans. There is a lot of hardwork and sacrifices made, especially during this festive period, but all of our efforts are worth it, knowing that every carton of masks that we have packed will go towards helping our fellow Singaporeans in this time of need."
LTA Huang Yongyi (centre), with his fellow servicemen.
Mask Delivery Operation
1SG Jurgen Yap Jun Wei, Platoon Sergeant, 3rd SAF Transport Battalion, was assigned with delivering the masks to the various Community Centres and Clubs located around the island.
"To me, it was a proud moment. Especially when I was doing my rounds to transport the masks to the various Community Centres. There were residents actually coming forth to thank me for my help, and it was really heart-warming."
Despite being activated during the Chinese New Year holidays, 1SG Jurgen's spirits remained high, knowing that what he was doing would directly impact people positively. "I have always believed that being able to give is a blessing, and in this situation, I'm blessed to be able to contribute."
1SG Jurgen Yap, who was tasked with the delivery of masks.
This sentiment was shared by 1SG Yasmin Binte Harunnarashid, Section Commander, 1st Transport Battalion (North). "It was humbling to realise that a little part of my effort contributed to safeguarding my loved ones."
1SG Yasmin, like 1SG Jurgen, was also tasked with the transportation of masks to the Community Centres. Recognising the sacrifices made by the participants, 1SG Yasmin thanked those who put country ahead of personal commitments.
"I would like to thank those who came down to help over the weekend despite their commitments. It is only with their selfless sacrifices that this operation can be a success."
1SG Yasmin Binte Harunnarashid from 1st Transport Battalion
Temperature Screening Operation
One of our soldiers monitoring the thermal scanner to ensure those with feverish symptoms were highlighted to on-site nurses.
2SG Wilfred Sim Hong Jin, Section Commander, 35th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers (35 SCE), and 2SG Hong Ken Wei, Section Commander, 35 SCE, were involved in the temperature screening operation at the airport.
The team was tasked with using thermal scanners to scan the temperatures of incoming passengers, and sounding out to on-site nurses if feverish symptoms were present. Additionally, 2SG Wilfred and 2SG Hong Ken ensured that the soldiers on duty were well-equipped with gloves and masks.
Undeterred that he was activated during the Chinese New Year holidays, 2SG Wilfred carried out his duties professionally, citing his family's support as the key motivator for him to focus on his duties.
"It was a pity that I couldn't join my family gatherings, but they understood that this was a duty to be performed. I am glad that my contributions will directly impact my loved ones in terms of ensuring their health and safety. This motivated me to stay focused and be diligent in performing my duty."
2SG Wilfred Sim Hong Jin manning his post at the thermal scanner.
Echoing 2SG Wilfred's sentiments, 2SG Ken Wei also acknowledged the need to fulfil the vow of protecting his country dutifully over personal commitments.
"I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to participate in this operation, and also proud that I am serving my nation in her time of need. As I was performing my duty, I felt comforted, knowing that my role here would impact not just my loved ones, but Singapore as a whole."
Lauding the reliability and proactiveness of his fellow servicemen, 2SG Ken Wei would like to encourage those who have been safeguarding the nation in her time of vulnerability with him.
"I recognise the fact that our training and lifestyles have been affected in some ways, but know that every effort you put in here is playing a big role in helping our nation. Stay strong and keep it up! Do not forget that your own health is of utmost importance, take care and stay healthy."
2SG Hong Ken Wei from 35 SCE
When our nation needs us, we will always be ready to do whatever we can to help. No matter the enemy, no matter the situation, no matter the strength, Our Army stands ready. It is with the selfless actions of our soldiers that we have been able to fight this invisible enemy, and their sense of duty shall serve as an inspiration.
A huge thank you to Our Army!
Written by: PTE Douglas Toh