"This is a significant year for the mobile Column…it is the 50th year in which we will see (them) participate in the National Day Parade (NDP), starting from 1969 at the Padang… and it is a chance to showcase the capabilities of our servicemen and women, who are important for the defence of our country."
President Halimah Yacob said this as she visited NDP 2019 Mobile Column participants along Nicoll Highway on 13 Jun. She viewed the line-up of this year's Mobile Column, which features more than 170 military assets, such as the Singapore Army's Hunter Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Republic of Singapore Air Force's ASTER-30 Missile System.
During her visit, Madam Halimah also interacted with NDP participants, which include servicemen from the Merdeka Generation.
Expressing her appreciation to the Merdeka Generation for their service and contributions as the early builders of National Service (NS), she said: "We are grateful to them because they've seen (and contributed to) the transformation of the security and defence (of Singapore), so that we have a safe and secure country today."
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (RET) Raymond Tan, 68, and Lance Corporal (LCP) (RET) Jeffie Koh, 60, are two of the many servicemen from the Merdeka Generation who are participating in this year's NDP Mobile Column.
The duo were from 41st Battalion, Singapore Armour Regiment – the first Armour Battalion in the Singapore Armed Forces. The two men operated the Ultra M113 armoured vehicle in the late 1970s. LTC (RET) Tan was then the company commander and LCP (RET) Koh the driver.
The two men will be in a Bionix Armoured Fighting Vehicle during the mobile column segment in this year's NDP.
"When I was invited to take part in this year's NDP as part of the Mobile Column as a Merdeka Generation serviceman, I immediately called Jeffie and asked him to join me," said LTC (RET) Tan.
LCP (RET) Koh said: "Being able to be in the same armoured vehicle together after so many years, it is really a joy for both of us, as well as a blessing."
The pair, along with friends from their NS days, still meet up at least once a month to catch up with each other. They often head down to different park connectors all over Singapore to walk and talk while exercising.
Both men said that they were excited to be part of this year's Mobile Column. Sharing in that excitement, come 9 Aug, will be 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Darius Tan.
The Full-time National Serviceman was to have ended his NS on 1 Aug but decided to extend his service so that he could be a part of Singapore's Bicentennial celebrations and the mobile column's 50th year in NDP.
"Being a part of NDP 2019 makes my time in NS even more memorable and significant," said the 22-year-old Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank (MBT) commander from 48th Battalion, Singapore Armour Regiment.
"Even though university will start a few days later for me on 12 Aug, I wouldn't give up the opportunity to be part of this historic NDP."