Creating a home for the familySWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy worked hard to be the best father for his children and provide for his family as he understood the difficulties of growing up without parents.
// Story by Koh Eng Beng
// Photos by Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of CPT Kurumbaesun, SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy & the RSAF
Both his parents passed away when he was in primary school, leaving SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy S/O Shanamugam and his six siblings to fend for themselves. That was in 1976.
The five brothers and two sisters had to fend for themselves as they grew up in a three-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio. To put food on the table, the eldest brother started working as a technician after completing his National Service (NS).
One by one, the siblings started working as they grew up. When SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy, who is the second youngest among the seven siblings, completed his A-levels, he too wanted to start working quickly.
SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy recalled: "When I enlisted for NS in 1985, there was an economic crisis. I felt it was important for me to quickly decide on my career and help to support the family."
So after completing his Basic Military Training, he embarked on a career with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) as an air defence systems specialist.
Reflecting on his growing up years, SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy, who has two sons and a daughter, said: "These tough moments allowed me to understand life's struggles and learn to be a good father.
"I have friends whose parents are around to care and provide for them. For us (me and my siblings), we didn't have our parents to turn to if we had any problems.
"But I was blessed to be able to provide for my children – I could give them a home, three meals a day, and a safe place for them to study and pursue their interests.
"I was very disciplined, prudent with money, and I worked very hard."
SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy, who is trained to operate the RBS 70 short-range surface-to-air missile system, rose through the ranks from Corporal to Senior Warrant Officer. The 56-year-old retired recently this May, capping his Air Force career of 36 years.
Eldest son Captain (CPT) S Kurumbaesun, who followed in his footsteps to become an RSAF Regular, sees him as his role model. "My dad’s hardworking, dedicated to whatever he’s doing, and always putting in his 100 per cent," said the 26-year-old Air Warfare Officer (Air Traffic Control).
Committed to family and country
In 2013, SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy was in the midst of conducting a graduation parade rehearsal for a group of officer cadets when he received a call that his second son was hospitalised.
As the parade was an important milestone for these cadets, he continued with the training until there was a break, before rushing to the hospital. After hearing from the doctor that his son was fine, SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy rushed back to resume training with the cadets.
On another occasion, he stayed overnight in hospital to watch over his daughter with his wife. The next day, he woke up at 5am and returned to Tengah Air Base to conduct a parade rehearsal.
"Some people say military men are tough, (have) no hearts, but I really care for both (my family and the organisation)!" he chuckled.
"I am very thankful and appreciative of my father who has been a great role model throughout my life. I am truly blessed to have him – he is someone whom I can turn to for support and guidance."
Mentor to his son
When asked about CPT Kurumbaesun following in his footsteps in joining the Air Force, SWO (Ret) Sathiamoorthy said that this was his son's own decision.
But he was proud of what his son had achieved so far in his own military career. CPT Kurumbaesun is a Sword of Honour recipient, Company's Best Recruit during Basic Military Training, and more.
CPT Kurumbaesun credited his achievements to his dad's guidance. In the early days of his career, when he was having a challenging time learning the ropes of being an air traffic controller, his dad was there for him.
"He told me not to give up, be determined, and to work hard and smart. These might sound cliche but coming from my dad, whom I've looked up to my whole life, his words provided me with a very strong sense of support and motivation!" said CPT Kurumbaesun.