Prior to enlistment, 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Axel Goh wasn't sure what he would do after his two years of National Service. Today, he has his hopes set on becoming a naval officer.
"The Navy spirit was what inspired me to sign on and hopefully become a naval officer," said the 20-year-old. "My instructor told me about the role and mission of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), which made me realise the importance of safeguarding Singapore's peace and security."
Throughout the 22-week course, 3SG Goh was exposed to different types of training and exercises. He learnt various aspects of being a naval commander in the RSN, as well as the values one must possess to be a good leader. The summary exercise was one such instance.
"It put everything we learnt from the past six months to the test," said the Golden Bayonet recipient. "Our crew was put into multiple situations where we had to work together to achieve our objectives, and I felt that it was a very enriching experience for us future commanders. This is a stepping stone for us to understand what standard we require to uphold as commanders in the future.
"I would like to share (the Golden Bayonet) with all my peers, because they worked hard throughout the course, and I feel that each and every one of us has the necessary capabilities to become a competent leader."
3SG Goh was one of the 1,058 cadets who received their 3SG chevrons at the 38th Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade. Held at Pasir Laba Camp, the parade was reviewed by Senior Minister of State for Transport & Health, Dr Lam Pin Min.
In his speech, Dr Lam highlighted the importance of their role as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) specialists in safeguarding Singapore. "As you assume the role of leaders and specialists, you will realise that your responsibilities will increase many-fold.
"You will bear the responsibility of leading your soldiers to safeguard Singapore's sovereignty, to stand strong and resilient against any challenges that might arise."
He also highlighted the responsibility of commanders to answer for both the training and safety of their men.
"Train your soldiers hard, but always keep their safety as a top priority. The SAF will remain committed to ensuring the safety of each and every soldier, and as commanders you have a duty to uphold this core value of safety."
Dr Lam also reiterated the importance of having an ever-ready SAF. He said: "For most Singaporeans, the most salient impact of the SAF lies in the ordinary – the ability to go about our daily lives as per normal, without fear or disruption… All these would not have been possible without the SAF and the other security agencies guarding our nation's peace round-the-clock, even on holidays.
"Even as I speak, the SAF continues to stand guard over our waters, airspace and key installations all day and night."
His words were not lost on 3SG Jesslyn Yeo. Originally from the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC), she decided to sign on as a Regular after hearing many heartfelt stories from Operationally Ready National Servicemen and Regulars while she was a rehabilitation therapist.
"I wanted to make it a point…to commit to national defence (myself)," said the 25-year-old. "I initially joined the SAFVC to give whatever time I had to protecting our nation, and after graduating from university, I decided to become a Regular because to me, it is an all-rounded career which allows me to fulfill my aspirations."
It was actually 3SG Yeo's childhood dream to serve in the army, and after many years of holding back, she finally decided to set herself free.
"Before joining the army, I was rather introverted. However, after a few months, I learned to open up and forged strong bonds with the guys. I would say that I'm proud of myself for achieving my dreams."
For 3SG John S/O Kumaresan, becoming the leader he is today fills him with pride.
"Throughout the 22 weeks with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, I learnt the importance of both physical capabilities and mental resilience," said 3SG John. "We were trained by our commanders in a way to always be proper and professional in whatever we do, and most importantly, we were trained to never compromise safety."
The 20-year-old faced highs and lows during his time in the Specialist Cadet Course, but he learnt the importance of values such as teamwork.
"It is impossible for one soldier to handle the weapon system that we are currently dealing with, which is the RBS 70 missile system. It is physically demanding, and it requires a lot of teamwork and time management to safely and securely handle the weapon system."
The Air Defence Weapon Specialist is thankful for the opportunity to be able to graduate from the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) as a 3rd Sergeant, and he looks forward to instilling the values that he has learnt as a cadet to others.