Emerging stronger after Specialist Cadet Course

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23 Feb 2018 | MILESTONES
Melayu 华文

Emerging stronger after Specialist Cadet Course

// STORY Benita Teo
// PHOTOS Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of the Singapore Army

English 华文

That was nearly the plight of 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Subash s/o Satapha. Growing up with a fear of deep waters, he feared the worst when he learnt that he had been selected to join the Naval Diving Unit (NDU) in National Service.

"I came in as a non-swimmer, and that was the scariest part of becoming a diver. I didn't know how I was going to make it," said the 21-year-old, laughing at the memory.

However, he chose not to shy away from the challenge, and resolved to learn to swim. He approached his schoolmate from Singapore Polytechnic, where he was pursuing a diploma in Interior Design, and asked the swimming team member to coach him.

After about two months of training, he had gained the confidence to do a basic freestyle. But this was not enough for the elite unit. He initially struggled with swimming training, until he met NDU instructor Military Expert 4 Lloyd Chua.

"He was the person who taught me to swim in two weeks," 3SG Subash recounted. "He gave me personalised training: he got me to lie down on the ground and he would pull my leg or push my hand to show me the motion (of the strokes). I got the muscle memory and soon I was able to do laps."

He did not forget the kindness and efforts of his "coaches". During the Combat Diver Course, he worked hard to master the bobbing technique for the drown-proofing test. As with learning to swim, he would practise during his spare time. When he saw his course mates struggle, he would train repeatedly with them too.

"We did it together because we wanted everyone to pass the test. You couldn't progress to the next phase of the course otherwise," he said.

3SG Subash's hard work and efforts paid off when he received his rank chevrons at the 34th Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade (SCGP) on 23 Feb.

Held at Pasir Laba Camp, a total of 1,128 Cadets, comprising 1,023 from the Singapore Army, 70 from the Republic of Singapore Navy and 35 from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, graduated as specialists of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

The parade was reviewed by Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry and National Development Dr Koh Poh Koon.

In his speech, Dr Koh highlighted the current threats faced by Singapore and the world, including radical terrorism and ISIS militants who were turning their recruitment efforts to Southeast Asia.

Noting that SAF units were now conducting Peacetime Contingency Operations training together with the Home Team in their efforts to gear up against these growing terror threats, Dr Koh highlighted the important role the graduands would play in keeping our home safe.

"As Specialists on the ground, you play a vital role in such operations. If ever called into action, it is essential that you discharge your duties with the professionalism and discipline that your training has taught you.

"Your leadership is pivotal in times of crisis. Inspire those under your charge to work towards the common mission of keeping our Singapore safe and secure," said Dr Koh.

These words were not lost on the graduands, who had forged strong bonds during the course.

The support of good friends helped 3SG Mohamed Akif bin Mohamed Salim to graduate from the Air Warfare Training Institute. As part of his training as an Air Defence Systems Specialist, he had to undergo practical operations and online tests and quizzes, which he admitted were not his forte.

"I'm not very good with tests, so after dinner, they would study with me until lights-out," said the 21-year-old. "We studied together every day in the days leading up to the test. I'm definitely thankful to them, I wouldn't be here if not for them!"

The Golden Bayonet recipient was also grateful to his superiors for instilling discipline in him: "They pushed us to really put in effort in all that we do, and were very meticulous about (correcting) our mistakes."

Like 3SG Mohamed Aqif, 3SG Stuwat Chen was happy for the strong bonds he forged with his course mates. The 20-year-old recalled the "Sergeant Rocky Challenge", a competition in Specialist Cadet School where sections would take part in mini-missions while completing a 16km route march.

Despite completing the progressive training of up to 8km, he had to drop out of the final 16km march due to an injury. Though he was disappointed to miss the competition, he wanted to encourage his section-mates.

"At first I was worried that they would forget about me. On the day of the competition, I showed my support by grabbing drinks for them during breaks and cheering them on. They could see that I was trying my best to fit in (and) I felt the brotherhood was there."

The parade was also special for the Armoured Infantry Specialist, as it was one of the rare times his single mother was witnessing him receive an award, and the prestigious Golden Bayonet at that.

"I'd never won awards before until (I won) Best Recruit in Basic Military Training. Now she's here to see me win the Golden Bayonet.

"When I was young, I may have said some hurtful things to her Now I'm trying to make it up to her. I want to tell her that I can support her now," he said.

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