Following in His Commando Dad's Footsteps

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/96fa0154-9faa-4d8f-94c4-28a4cf4b2118/25mar21_news1_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-96fa0154-9faa-4d8f-94c4-28a4cf4b2118-nxD0cN3 /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/96fa0154-9faa-4d8f-94c4-28a4cf4b2118/25mar21_news1_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-96fa0154-9faa-4d8f-94c4-28a4cf4b2118-nxD0cN3 /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2021-Q1/25mar21_news1
25mar21_news1 /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2021-Q1/25mar21_news1
25 Mar 2021 | PEOPLE

Following in His Commando Dad's Footsteps

2LT Koh aspires to be a respected commando officer just like his father LTC (Ret) Koh.

//Story by Koh Eng Beng

//Photos by Kenneth Lin and Courtesy of 2LT Koh

He grew up listening to stories of what his dad did as a commando – jumping out of a plane in full combat gear, going through some of the toughest and most gruelling training that most people would deem impossible to complete.

"These are things that as a young boy, you'd say 'That sounds cool, I want to do that when I grow up'," said 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Ryan Koh.

The 20-year-old has taken a huge step in making his childhood dream come true – he completed the nine-month officer cadet training, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 21 Mar. He will soon join the 1st Commando Battalion and attend the Commando Officer Conversion Course.

2LT Koh (left) receiving his sword at the Officer Cadet Commissioning Parade held at SAFTI Military Institute on 22 Mar.

2LT Koh decided on a military career when he was in OCS. The reason? He realised that the good values that his father had instilled in him since young actually came from the Army.

His father is Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (Ret) Richard Koh, a former commando officer who retired from the Army in 2019.

"Integrity, resilience, and other values that the Army teaches are what my father holds close to him and what he has taught us. He taught me that being a good person comes first before anything else. That is something that I also want in my life."

A young 2LT Koh (in spectacles) with his siblings and father LTC (Ret) Koh at the 2008 Army Open House.

Coincidentally, his dad was the commander of Echo Wing in OCS from 2012 to 2016, the same wing that 2LT Koh was in.

Asked if he felt any pressure to live up to his dad's name, 2LT Koh said: "This unspoken pressure is something that I put on myself! No one has said to me that since I am Richard Koh's son, I needed to step up. But I use the pressure to spur myself (on) to be the best soldier that I can be."

LTC (Ret) Koh stressed that he did not put any pressure on 2LT Koh to become a Regular or a commando. "I told him, 'Hey this is not an easy job, you're going to have a tough life, (but) it's your choice,'" he chuckled.

Leadership advice

To allow his son to have a full and authentic Army experience, LTC (Ret) Koh did not give him any insider tips or details. But he did give 2LT Koh advice on being a good leader.

"I told him, don't be a person who tells others to run nine minutes flat (for 2.4km) but you yourself cannot. You need to have some expectations of yourself so that you can expect the same from other people," said the 48-year-old senior manager at Aviva.

2LT Koh took his dad's advice and put in extra training. He cut his 2.4km timing by more than a minute, from 11:50 min to 10:15 min. The improvement came during the first six weeks of his Basic Military Training (BMT), which was conducted from home due to the Circuit Breaker.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, 2LT Koh's BMT batch attended basic soldiering lessons online as well as physical training via zoom from home. They eventually resumed training at Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong.

One of his biggest challenges in his Army journey so far, he said, was dealing with the negative perception that some people had about national servicemen who enlisted during the pandemic.

"When we hear people saying that we had an easier time in training because of COVID-19, we get very upset," said 2LT Koh.

"The way we train has changed, but the intensity has not been reduced. People have to understand that what we went through was in no way less tough – we still went through the same non-stop back-to-back missions."

Getting the Red Beret

2LT Koh's current goal was to complete the necessary training to get the coveted red beret and begin his tour as a detachment commander.

"To transition from cadet life to be a commander, to connect (with) my men, to lead them through tough times, that's my next near-term goal," he said.

His long-term goal? To continue the joy and passion of serving, even 20 years down the road, just like what his dad did. "I could see that in my father – he finds a lot of joy and passion in the Army. Even though he has left the Army, I can tell that he still looks back to those good days."

Suggested Reading
Bunkmates to buddies Feature
Bunkmates to buddies
PEOPLE
30-Jul-21

Being real buddies means being able to give each other honest feedback, even when it's unpleasant. Meet LTA (NS) Nabil Abdul Latiff and LTA (NS) Prasad Shubhangam Rajesh in PIONEER's Buddies series!

Safety Management in Saf Comparable to Top Private Firms: External Panel Feature
Safety Management in Saf Comparable to Top Private Firms: External Panel
OPS & TRAINING
15-Jul-21

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has shown that it places strong emphasis on reinforcing safety at every level.

Amputee among over 100 participants who complete SAF Day fitness challenge
Amputee among over 100 participants who complete SAF Day fitness challenge
COMMUNITY
05-Jul-21

Having only one leg is not an obstacle for former commando national serviceman James Leo, who took part in a ground-up community fitness challenge in support of SAF Day.

NDP 2021 paves the way for new normal in S'pore Feature
NDP 2021 paves the way for new normal in S'pore
COMMUNITY
02-Jul-21

This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay, with various activities held across Singapore.

Buddies without borders
Cover story
Buddies without borders
PEOPLE
02-Jul-21

One's a Singaporean who's spent his whole life living in Japan. The other is a PR who was born in the Philippines but calls Singapore home. In the first of PIONEER's Buddies series, find out how NSFs 3SG Asao Yosuke and 3SG Adzel Ardean Altoveros overcame language and cultural barriers to become best friends!

SAF preps for ops & training with endemic COVID-19
Cover story
SAF preps for ops & training with endemic COVID-19
OPS & TRAINING
01-Jul-21

In his annual SAF Day interview, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen talks about aligning with the national COVID-19 stance, how ops and training will continue and the focus for the SAF moving forward.

Practical measures to ensure continuity in SAF ops Feature
Practical measures to ensure continuity in SAF ops
OPS & TRAINING
30-Jun-21

The SAF is adopting a three-pronged strategy to prepare to operate in a COVID-19 endemic environment.

Best Combat Unit: Winning is in the Commandos' DNA
Cover story
Best Combat Unit: Winning is in the Commandos' DNA
MILESTONES
22-Jun-21

The soldiers of 1st Commando Battalion (1 CDO) have done it again! This elite fighting force has clinched its 18th consecutive Best Combat Unit award in the Singapore Armed Forces' Best Unit Competition.

Not your typical journey to becoming an officer
Not your typical journey to becoming an officer
PEOPLE
10-Jun-21

From completing his National Service as an infantry specialist, to extending it and signing-on as a combat engineer officer, 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Marimuthu "Selva" Selvaganapathy's journey to becoming an officer was anything but typical.

Nothing's impossible for this 26-year-old commando officer
Nothing's impossible for this 26-year-old commando officer
PEOPLE
09-Jun-21

Commissioning as an officer at the age of 26, Commando and Sword of Merit recipient 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Kavin Timothy S/O Trina Shanti proves that there are many paths to excellence.