To be the bestPIONEER chats with some of this year's Best Unit Competition winners to find out what makes them tick.
// STORY BENITA TEO & CHIA CHONG JIN
// PHOTOS CHAI SIAN LIANG & CHUA SOON LYE
Holding their own
Congrats, guys! How do you feel to be part of a winning unit?
3SG Syakir I'm happy and proud of my unit for improving over the years. The long training hours and staying back on weekends for outfield training (has) all paid off.
2LT Soh This win didn't come easy. It was a tough journey leading up to our ATEC (Army Training Evaluation Centre) test. But going through tough yet realistic training, with constant guidance from our commanders, prepared us not just for this evaluation, but operations in the future. It gives us an understanding of our purpose in NS (National Service) and why it's necessary for us to train this hard.
What does it take to be a Commando?
LTC Ng Commandos are very adaptive. We are always put in challenging environments, whether it is the terrain or adversary we will face. So being adaptive is important as it is related to our survivability in missions.
3SG Syakir "Never give up" is our mantra because when you give up, your peers will have to carry your load and it will increase theirs.
What's a memorable exercise you went on recently?
LTC Ng Last year, I led our soldiers in a bilateral exercise with the Indonesian Special Forces, Kopassus. They are Regulars who are experienced and well-trained, while ours were NSFs (Full-time National Servicemen) who had only about a year of experience.
I was impressed by the professionalism of our soldiers - despite the difference in age and experience, they could carry themselves well and train professionally with the Kopassus. We did well and our counterparts were impressed too. I felt a sense of accomplishment seeing how our soldiers had grown.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Commandos have such a strong presence in the Changi area that a dessert stall in the Changi Village hawker centre pays tribute to them with a "Commando dessert". "It's a shaved ice dessert with red tea jelly and longan. During nights out, my batch boys like to order that," said 3SG Syakir. No news on whether friends of 1 CDO get a discount, though.
Dare to excel
Share with us your secret to winning!
MAJ Liu Our secret is that the crew stayed true to our ship's name - we dare to be exceptional and we dare to be bold. Through this daring spirit, as well as a positive attitude, we eventually got to where we are today.
3SG Koh On our ship, we sail as a family. The care that each and every one receives is similar to the care that we would receive in a family.
ME1 Luo RSS Daring is one of the most caring ships – you can see "hearts" everywhere!
How would you describe the crew of RSS Daring in three words?
3SG Koh Ever since I set foot on RSS Daring, it has been "My Second Home".
MAJ Liu Family, professional, daring. I want to emphasise "family", as it's also about standing up for one another. We're like a family. When fellow crew mates face problems, we will always be there to support them.
Was there an operation that left a deep impression on you?
3SG Koh I vividly remember an activation that took place in the middle of the night. The alarm sounded, and everyone quickly gathered at the bridge and was ready at a moment's notice. It was also a wakeup call to me, as these incidents may happen at any moment.
ME1 Luo One experience that I will never forget was when we sailed to Thailand for an exchange with the Royal Thai Navy last year. As crew of a patrol vessel, we hardly get the opportunity to sail overseas, so that was really an eye-opener for me. I feel proud to be able to represent Singapore in this defence exchange program.
DID YOU KNOW?
The sailors of RSS Daring aren't just brave, but versatile too. When RSS Resilience was deployed to assist in the operations following the collision of United States destroyer USS John S. McCain with an oil tanker last year, the crew of RSS Daring joined their sister crew on board their ship to search for survivors. It is an operation that remains close to their hearts, said MAJ Liu. "Being mariners, we know that we only have each other out in the sea, and any help we receive is likely from a fellow mariner. Thus, we are proud to have contributed (in the rescue efforts)."
Investing in people
Congrats! How do you feel about the win?
LTC Koh I feel extremely proud of the team of committed and professional airmen. It's good to win again after five years.
What's the squadron's secret to success?
ME2 Light It's about hard work - the guys work hard day-in and day-out, and this is the outcome of their dedication and their reward.
LTC Koh I believe in investing in our people by listening to them, understanding their needs and challenges, and helping them to deliver high standards of work. I also tell them to find purpose in their daily tasks. When they find satisfaction in their work, it will be easier for them to complete their tasks when the going gets tough.
What are the qualities airmen of 149 SQN must possess?
CPT Low You have to be a team player - in our missions, there's no way for anyone to complete them alone. We operate together so teamwork is very important. You must also be driven and self-motivated, because we work at such a fast tempo and there isn't always time for us to give one another pep talks.
ME2 Light Be humble - there's always room to learn and progress. After winning the Best Fighter Squadron title, we should be all the more humble because the higher we go, the more humbly we have to walk.
Tell us the spirit of 149 SQN in three words!
LTC Koh "Black and gold". We have a saying: if you cut us, we bleed black and gold. The colours represent our motto - black means we are steadfast, in peace or troubled times. Gold shows our professionalism in being a premium squadron of the Fighter Group in Air Combat Command.
DID YOU KNOW?
All airmen in 149 SQN own a squadron coin, presented to them by LTC Koh. "The coin is with us 24/7, even when we fly. I keep mine next to my heart," said fighter pilot CPT Julian Low, who carries his in the breast pocket of his flight suit. "It's a sign of our brotherhood. I will die with this coin."