Not your typical R+J love story

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16 Feb 2024 | PEOPLE

Not your typical R+J love story

This Air Force couple are in sync when it comes to balancing long overseas exercises and making time for family.

//Story by Thrina Tham / Photos by Kenneth Lin & courtesy of MAJ Kuah


From mission planning to planning their lives together: MAJ Kuah (left) and MAJ Goh have found a balance between work and caring for their two kids.
English 华文

It was the end of their Officer Cadet Course. Major (MAJ) Raymeo Kuah went around collecting autographs from his course mates on their class photo as a keepsake.

He collected all but one signature – that of MAJ Joline Goh.

"I remember the photo being passed around but I didn't know who it was for, so I didn't sign it!" she said.

Five years down the road, "she signed on the correct paper" – their marriage certificate, said MAJ Kuah.

MAJ Kuah (first row, far left) and MAJ Goh (second row, third from right) grew closer as friends during their officer cadet course in AFTC.

This was something the couple fondly looked back on as they recalled how they first met as course mates in 2012.

Back then, there was nothing more to their friendship, but they got close and built camaraderie through tough training as trainee air warfare officers in Ground-Based Air Defence.

"We went through all the hard times outfield together, the chiong sua (hokkien for charging up the hill), and we got to know each other better," said MAJ Kuah.

The months flew past, and their commissioning came and went in January 2013.

MAJ Goh was posted to 165 Squadron and MAJ Kuah to Air Force Training Command (AFTC) – where his colleague was their former course commander.

As he kept a picture of his course mates at work, his colleague asked him how things were between him and MAJ Goh.

"I told him, 'There was nothing, why?' But that's when I also thought, no harm in linking up with her again and rekindling the friendship," he said.

They went for their first "date" at Jurong Point, near her workplace at Lim Chu Kang Camp II.

Then, MAJ Kuah planned a birthday party for her, making a scrapbook and asking their friends to pen their well wishes in it. At the end of the book was his confession letter.

A week later, she replied with another letter saying yes.

Finding a balance

Needless to say, their colleagues were thrilled for them.

"In the birthday scrapbook, many of them wrote 'You should accept him!'" said MAJ Goh.

Eleven years and two children down the road later, the two, now 31, have a found a balance between family and their work in the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The pair got married in December 2017, with their course mates and instructor as their sword bearers.

"We were quite deliberate in rotating our command and staff posts because we have young kids," said MAJ Kuah.

He is currently serving as the Bravo Battery Commander at 3rd Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion, while MAJ Goh is a staff officer in the Air Plans Department.

Things can still get challenging at times, as MAJ Goh holds the fort at home alone when MAJ Kuah is away. (In fact, he only arrived home past 8am from a straight 24-hour shift for this interview).

The toughest time for her was when he was away for five weeks during Exercise Wallaby and an overseas planning conference last year.

"It was just the two kids and me; I was outnumbered. The biggest thing is the mental load 'cos I have to make a lot of the decisions instead of us discussing," she explained.

It isn't always easy on the dad's side either, said MAJ Kuah.

Recalling a three-week deployment while his eldest daughter was a few months old, he said: "Before I flew, we were best buds, so chummy; she was always happy to see me. When I came back, she totally forgot me. And she cried when she saw me."

"That was especially hard for me, I didn't quite expect it," he added.

Although it is difficult, the two try to fix monthly "protected time", where they leave their kids in the care of their in-laws and go out together.

Mutual understanding

What helps the couple is the mutual understanding they have for each other.

"We understand each other's jobs and the sacrifices required of the job," said MAJ Goh.

"And we trust that we can build back (on that time lost) when we come back from long deployment," added MAJ Kuah.

And when it comes to disciplining their two daughters – aged five and one –mutual trust and communication are also key.

MAJ Kuah is the one who gives "the first warning shots" when they misbehave, while his wife goes from "zero to 100" when things get out of hand, he quipped.

While their approaches may differ slightly, they stay consistent and supportive of each other's decisions, noted MAJ Goh.

They're a united front, he agreed.

"We're an SAF couple, of course we..." What do military couples have in common?

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