When sparks flyArtillery soldiers 2WO Ho Zanpeng and 3WO Oh Pui Cheng spill the beans on their love story – from feeling that instant connection when they met during an overseas exercise, to working on the ground in the same formation.
Story by Teo Jing Ting // Photos by Kenneth Lin & courtesy of interviewees
An eight-year age gap did not stop them from hitting it off immediately.
3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Oh Pui Cheng, 33, and 2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) Ho Zanpeng, 41, first met at an overseas exercise in January 2019.
She was then a radar liaison officer from 24th Battalion, Singapore Artillery (24 SA) while 2WO Ho was a trainer in Artillery Reservist Training Centre, in charge of training Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen).
Sparks flew from their first conversation – even though the conversation was purely about work, they both knew that there could be something more.
As 3WO Oh was the only servicewoman from the radar team positioned at the weapons site, 2WO Ho made sure that she was well-taken care of.
"He would always ask me if I had eaten and told me to stay in the vehicle instead of waiting for information out in the cold New Zealand weather.
"He would also tell me when the information (I needed) was ready. These gestures made me a little more interested in him," recalled 3WO Oh with a laugh.
For 2WO Ho, it was her personality which attracted him.
"She's very daring and not afraid to talk to anyone – that captured my attention. And of course, she's pretty!" admitted 2WO Ho bashfully.
Locking eyes on you
After returning from their three-week exercise, the pair wasted no time in dating. A week later, they became an official couple.
Aside from going to cafes and watching movies like most Singaporean couples, 2WO Ho and 3WO Oh often run together. In fact, it was 3WO Oh who influenced her husband to do so.
"I love running and I've been scoring 100 points for IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test) for a few years, so I made him run with me," quipped 3WO Oh.
"Now, he's much better – he scores gold on his first attempt instead of several tries like how he did in the past!"
Finding a balance
While being in the same formation allows them to understand each other's work, there were also instances when their relationship was put to the test.
During 3WO Oh's tour as a Company Sergeant Major in 23 SA, she frequently had to engage her soldiers after work. This meant the couple's meeting time for dates were often pushed back.
"Even though our meet-up time was 8pm, I was often swamped with engaging my soldiers after their last parade. By the time I was done, it was already 10pm and he would have been waiting at the bus stop outside my camp for two hours!" said 3WO Oh with a sheepish laugh.
Now that they are married, the tables are turned.
Currently an ops warrant in Headquarters Singapore Artillery (HQ SA), 2WO Ho often has to attend to work and soldier matters after hours.
"It's challenging because, as a spouse, I want him to spend time with me. But I also need to be supportive and understanding of his work, so it's really about finding that balance," said 3WO Oh, who is now an outreach warrant officer in the Army Recruitment Centre.
"I know that my husband needs to be there for his NSmen, so I'm willing to sacrifice our time together for him to be a committed leader."
A simple romance
Despite these kinks, there have been many sweet moments which kept their relationship strong.
For instance, 2WO Ho planned a birthday trip for 3WO Oh to Japan a few months after they started dating as he knew she had always wanted to go there.
"He knows I love sashimi and I'd never been to Japan before, so he planned the entire trip and we celebrated my birthday there," 3WO Oh recalled with a smile.
There was also the proposal, which caught 3WO Oh by surprise as 2WO Ho was an "unromantic and practical" person.
Armed with a ring and bouquet of roses, 2WO Ho proposed to 3WO Oh in a cable car ride on Christmas Day in 2020.
There was nothing fancy about the occasion, but what touched 3WO Oh was that 2WO Ho knew exactly the type of ring she wanted.
"I love gold and I don't like diamonds, but an all gold ring can look quite old fashioned so he managed to customise a gold band engagement ring with a diamond on top and I loved it," gushed 3WO Oh.
The couple got married in December 2021.
For 2WO Ho, it was her caring personality and the little things she did over the years which moved him.
"If she sees something I like, she will buy and surprise me with it. When I'm sick, she will make sure that I'm well-taken care of – this is good enough for me," said 2WO Ho with a smile.
Gunning for more
Now that they have been married for more than a year, the couple are ready to take the next step and start a family.
Career-wise, they are also excited about what the organisation has in store for them.
"I joined the Army as I wanted a unique career and I've never once regretted my decision.
"I'm happy to be given the opportunity to influence and train soldiers so that they are capable of protecting the nation and their loved ones. I also enjoy the camaraderie and friendships forged with people from different backgrounds," said 3WO Oh.
For 2WO Ho, it's simply a call of duty.
"It's my duty to contribute to national defence, and I want to be there when the nation is in need."