From unfamiliar faces to firm friends

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/2350a619-1191-499e-af80-c332ae52d96f/29jan21_news1_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_NG96HO01018QE0Q5VUU2KN0571-2350a619-1191-499e-af80-c332ae52d96f-ntcpaoo /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/2350a619-1191-499e-af80-c332ae52d96f/29jan21_news1_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_NG96HO01018QE0Q5VUU2KN0571-2350a619-1191-499e-af80-c332ae52d96f-ntcpaoo /web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2021-Q1/29jan21_news1
/web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2021-Q1/29jan21_news1
29jan21_news1
29 Jan 2021 | PEOPLE

From unfamiliar faces to firm friends

// Story Benita Teo

// Photos courtesy of the Singapore Army & PTE Md Hadi

English 华文

Returning to serve NS after spending six years abroad, Private (PTE) Muhammad Hadi Bin Abdul Hairy used to wake up in his BMT bunk feeling like he was surrounded by strangers. Now, he counts them as some of his closest friends. Find out how he adapted to military life in the third of PIONEER's "Back to Serve" series.

1-UP-B-caption

"I was used to waking up at home and seeing my family's faces every morning, but now I had to stay in camp, and the people I was seeing were strangers," said PTE Md Hadi, 18.

His parents are still in New Zealand, where the family had been based for the last six years.

The self-professed introvert had a hard time at the beginning of his Basic Military Training (BMT) adapting to a new environment and meeting new people. But it was with them that he learnt about teamwork and found true friendship.

PTE Md Hadi (seated, in black) with his family. He returned to Singapore with his elder brothers Md Afiq (standing, in black) and CPL Md Matin (in blue) to serve their NS.

Rising to the challenge

Last January, he had come back to Singapore with his two elder brothers to stay with their grandmother while the three of them served their National Service (NS).

His eldest brother, Muhammad Afiq Bin Abdul Hairy, completed his NS as a Police Coast Guard last year while second brother Corporal (CPL) Muhammad Matin Bin Abdul Hairy is currently a Transport Operator at Sembawang Camp.

Adjusting to military life after being abroad for several years wasn't easy, but PTE Md Hadi is not one to back down from a challenge.

For instance, when his father told him that training would be tough, he took it as a challenge and was determined to do his best in NS and see how far he could go. His father had served his NS as a combat medic.

PTE Md Hadi also knew he had to come out of his shell: "To survive the four months of BMT, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and talk to these people who would later train and suffer together with me and help me throughout my BMT."

PTE Hadi (second from right) with his BMT buddies. From total strangers on enlistment day, they have become some of his closest friends.

Building bonds in BMT

He and his buddies began bonding over shared interests like playing computer games together during their free time. They would also meet up for meals or to hang out.

His BMT buddies turned out to be a very "steady" bunch. PTE Md Hadi fondly recalled an incident at the end of their BMT.

They had been tasked by their platoon and section in-charge to clean the bunks and staircase areas in preparation for their graduation the next day. However, time was short and they were worried that they wouldn't be able to complete the task in time.

"We got everyone in the platoon to help out, so that it could be done on time, and those who had to fall in early would not be late. That taught me the importance of teamwork."

Serving during a pandemic

PTE Md Hadi enlisted on 11 Aug last year, in the middle of the Circuit Breaker period. Due to the strict safety measures in place, adjustments had to be made to his training.

For instance, his batch was not able to do the route march to The Float @ Marina Bay for their graduation on 5 Dec 2020. Although they were disappointed, PTE Md Hadi and his platoon mates were glad to have formed strong bonds throughout their training.

"Our commanders always made sure to remind us to keep our masks on and to maintain safe distancing. These helped to lessen my worries. We were also able to continue with our activities and our learning wasn't compromised," he reflected.

PTE Md Hadi setting up wireless communication radio equipment as part of his training as a Supply Assistant at the Army Logistics Training Institute.

Defending what's important

PTE Md Hadi is currently in the Army Logistics Training Institute, where he is training to become a Supply Assistant.

He has no regrets about coming back to Singapore to serve his NS. "I have learned and experienced new things that I wouldn't have if I wasn't in NS – things like grenade throwing, live firing and close quarter battles. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

"I came back to serve NS because I wanted to play my part, and learn how to be a soldier so that I can defend my loved ones and the place that holds many of my childhood memories."

Suggested Reading
Overcoming the odds to become a Specialist
Overcoming the odds to become a Specialist
PEOPLE
12-Nov-21

Being diagnosed with possible muscle dystrophy did not stop this newly-minted specialist from pursuing his passion to becoming a combat-fit soldier.

Not your average Singaporean Son
Not your average Singaporean Son
PEOPLE
05-Nov-21

A childhood infection caused him to lose his right arm. But CPL Tan Kok Yew went against the grain by choosing to enlist, and has emerged an outstanding and respected soldier in his unit.

"BMT Artist" captures life on Pulau Tekong Feature
"BMT Artist" captures life on Pulau Tekong
PEOPLE
17-Sep-21

Meet Private Asher Ong - he gets busy when others are resting during admin time, filling up his notebook with sketches of his life at the Basic Military Training Centre. The 21-year-old has made over 200 sketches and notes over the past two months!

SAF Assists Home Vaccination Efforts
SAF Assists Home Vaccination Efforts
OPS & TRAINING
15-Sep-21

Medics from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) have been putting their medical training to good use by assisting with home vaccination efforts targeted at the elderly and homebound individuals.

FIRST IN HIS FAMILY
FIRST IN HIS FAMILY
PEOPLE
08-Sep-21

To most, becoming an officer of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would already be a huge honour. But for 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Muhammad Ilham Rizqullah Bin Rohaizad, being commissioned holds special meaning for him as he is now the first in his extended family to become an officer.

ICT Amid COVID-19 Crucial to Maintaining SAF's Operational Readiness: Zaqy Feature
ICT Amid COVID-19 Crucial to Maintaining SAF's Operational Readiness: Zaqy
OPS & TRAINING
26-Aug-21

NSmen from 488 SAR continue to train amid COVID-19 effectively and safely.

Bunkmates to buddies Feature
Bunkmates to buddies
PEOPLE
30-Jul-21

Being real buddies means being able to give each other honest feedback, even when it's unpleasant. Meet LTA (NS) Nabil Abdul Latiff and LTA (NS) Prasad Shubhangam Rajesh in PIONEER's Buddies series!

Safety Management in Saf Comparable to Top Private Firms: External Panel Feature
Safety Management in Saf Comparable to Top Private Firms: External Panel
OPS & TRAINING
15-Jul-21

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has shown that it places strong emphasis on reinforcing safety at every level.

Buddies without borders
Cover story
Buddies without borders
PEOPLE
02-Jul-21

One's a Singaporean who's spent his whole life living in Japan. The other is a PR who was born in the Philippines but calls Singapore home. In the first of PIONEER's Buddies series, find out how NSFs 3SG Asao Yosuke and 3SG Adzel Ardean Altoveros overcame language and cultural barriers to become best friends!

Practical measures to ensure continuity in SAF ops Feature
Practical measures to ensure continuity in SAF ops
OPS & TRAINING
30-Jun-21

The SAF is adopting a three-pronged strategy to prepare to operate in a COVID-19 endemic environment.