Following in my grandfather & dad's footsteps

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15 Dec 2019 | PEOPLE

Following in my grandfather & dad's footsteps

// Story Koh Eng Beng

// Photos Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of Daniel Choo

English 华文

2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Daniel Choo has big shoes to fill - his grandfather is Singapore's first defence chief and his dad, a top graduand from Officer Cadet School (OCS).

Three generations of officers: 2LT Choo (right) with grandfather LG (Ret) Choo (centre) and dad Mr Choo.

For 2LT Choo, becoming an Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officer was a dream come true: he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

His grandfather is Lieutenant-General (LG) (Ret) Winston Choo, the SAF's first and longest-serving Chief of Defence Force, while his father, Mr Warren Choo, was a signal officer and a Sword of Honour recipient.

"I've always wanted to be an officer, knowing that my grandfather and father were both officers," said the 19-year-old Full-time National Serviceman (NSF).

But as he went through Basic Military Training and entered OCS, his reason in becoming an officer changed.

"(I wanted) to be a leader and mentor for my men, (to be) someone that they can turn to for help, whether it be in camp or (their) personal lives outside," added the Army officer who will be posted to 3rd Battalion, Singapore Guards (3 Gds).

2LT Choo wants to be a leader and mentor that his men can turn to for help during their two years of national service in 3 Gds.

Constant family support

His grandfather and dad have been a source of inspiration and his pillar of support throughout his National Service (NS). They often sent him text messages, asking about his training and sharing words of encouragement.

Every weekend, after booking out, he headed to his grandfather's house where he shared what he had gone through during the week. His grandfather would, in turn, give him advice.

"I tried to relate to him some of my own experiences when I was a cadet," said LG (Ret) Choo, who went through officer cadet training 60 years ago in 1959.

"What I always try to tell him is that all he needs to do is to do his best. Be a member of the team… Be determined in whatever you do," added LG (Ret) Choo.

Knowing that his grandfather had gone through similar challenges in the past gave 2LT Choo the confidence that he could overcome them as well. "To be able to talk about my experiences and have my grandfather to share similar experiences that he had - this put me at ease."

Mr Choo recalled being pleasantly surprised that his son was very upbeat about training. "Every week, he seemed quite excited and looking forward to going (back to camp for training) again."

He added: "Every week, we have family dinner on Saturday nights, (where) Daniel would share more stories and we would laugh about it. It was fun - we enjoyed the time that we had talking about (his experiences) and... my dad bringing up old stories."

Then-Officer Cadet Choo, with fellow cadets during field training.

Always do your best

For 2LT Choo, officer cadet training was tough, both physically and mentally. There were times he wasn't sure if he would be able to push on through the day.

"Physically we trained often, (and) went through acclimatisation... When you need to push on, (the strength to persevere) really comes from yourself and those around you. And it's not something that can be taught; it's something that you learn along the way."

When asked if he felt immense pressure to excel, because of his grandfather and dad's legacy, 2LT Choo replied: "They never pressured me to do as well as they did or even better."

"Whatever the outcome is, as long as I did my best, they will be proud of me. That allowed me to do the best I could without any sort of stress."

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