Recognising NSmen for their contributions to defence

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28 Feb 2019 | MILESTONES

Recognising NSmen for their contributions to defence

// Report by Chia Chong Jin

// Photos by Tan Yong Quan

English 华文

Colonel (COL) (NS) See Tow Pak Onn's service has been nothing less than extraordinary. He served as an Honorary Aide-de-Camp to the President from 1993 to 1996, and was the Parade Commander for the 2007 National Day Parade during his 42 years of service.

A comment by one of his ex-managers was what motivated COL (NS) See Tow, who is now 60-years-old, to continuously contribute to Singapore's defence.

"He said: 'Why are we defending Singapore? We can't win if we fight.' That made me want to study more about Singapore's defence to understand what are we really doing to protect Singapore."

"As I got deeper into the topic, I learnt more about Singapore's defence, and through that period of learning, I made a lot of friends and the bonds that I made was what kept me going," said COL (NS) See Tow, who is an operations manager based overseas.

COL (NS) See Tow was among 95 Key Appointment Holders, ROVERS and Volunteers who were recognised at an appreciation dinner held at Temasek Club on 27 Feb.

ROVERS are Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) who serve beyond their NS training cycle, which they have completed, but have not reached their statutory age ceiling.

Volunteers are NSmen who serve beyond their statutory age ceiling.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Goh Si Hou expressed his gratitude towards the recipients who have served the nation beyond their call of duty.

"You are a group of extraordinary Singaporeans, because all of you have served beyond your call of duty…contributing for so many years even though your National Service liabilities have ended."

"You can be very proud of your service, just as we (Singaporeans) are very grateful for your contributions."

MG Goh also thanked the spouses and employers for their unwavering support for the NSmen.

Almost 17 years ago, 2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) (NS) Ching Kheng Soon received a call-up for an overseas In-Camp Training (ICT) that was to have lasted three weeks.

At the same time, 2WO (NS) Ching's wife, Eleen, had recently gave birth to their son, and he was barely about a year old.

"Initially, I was hesitant about going for the ICT, as I wanted to spend time to take care of my wife and son," said 2WO (NS) Ching, who has served with the Republic of Singapore Navy for 33 years. 

"However, my wife insisted as I should go as my unit needed me, and it would be irresponsible if I didn't go," said 2WO (NS) Ching. 

When asked what advice he would give to the NSmen who were thinking of extending their service, 2WO (NS) Ching said: "They must have the heart to serve, and must be willing to give more than what they are expected of, without expecting anything in return."

Similarly, 1st Sergeant (1SG) (NS) Ray Rajagopal's wife supported him throughout his ICTs by taking care of both family and work matters, as the pair work together in their own business. 

1SG (NS) Ray, who has served in the Singapore Army for 21 years, said: "If it weren't for my wife, I wouldn't be able to extend my service to our nation, and that I am really thankful for her."

The dinner was also attended by senior SAF commanders, families and employers of the NSmen.

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