President's aide doing his late father proud

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15 Feb 2022 | PEOPLE

President's aide doing his late father proud

//Story Koh Eng Beng

//Photos Chua Soon Lye & courtesy of MAJ Venod

English 华文

One of the reasons this Commando officer volunteered to serve as the Singapore president’s Honorary Aide-De-Camp, is to honour his late father.

MAJ Venod is a Commando officer by training.

As he marched across the Padang during the 2015 National Day Parade (NDP) preview, then-Captain (CPT) Vaithalingam Venod Kumar could see his father watching from the seating gallery. It was a proud but emotional moment for him.

Mr Kannusamy Vaithalingam was half-paralysed from a debilitating stroke, and had developed dementia – he probably couldn't understand what's going on, or remember that it was his wish to see his children in uniform at NDP.

MAJ Venod's father watching the NDP 2015 preview.
Then-CPT Venod (second from left) was the Commando Guard-of-Honour contingent commander at NDP 2015.

"My brother was frantically trying to point and show him that that was me," said MAJ Venod, who was then the Commando Guard-of-Honour Contingent Commander.

"At that point in time, my dad was already a stroke patient and suffering from dementia. So I couldn't really relate to him that I was doing this. But I knew that he would have been very happy to see me at the parade."

Mr Kannusamy was a former police officer. He passed away in 2019 at the age of 68.

MAJ Venod with his elder brother MAJ Vijendran (right), who is the Commanding Officer of 605 Squadron in the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

His father was a major reason MAJ Venod volunteered to serve as an Honorary Aide-De-Camp, or HADC, when the opportunity was presented to him.

"If he was alive, he would have definitely told me, 'Hey, go and do it!'" said the 41-year-old, now a staff officer in Joint Service.

Then-Private Venod with father at his Basic Military Training graduation parade in 2000.

As a HADC, he attends to the needs of President Halimah Yacob, and accompanies her at state functions, ceremonies or events. He also helps to plan and coordinate these events.

MAJ Venod had been appointed as a HADC last year, but due to the COVID-19 restrictions, no appointment ceremony was held.

MAJ Venod is one of 32 SAF and Home Team personnel who received their HADC appointment letter from Madam Halimah on 14 Feb.

Lifelong dream

Being a HADC is a voluntary duty, over and above his regular job as a Commando officer. But MAJ Venod, who is married, does not mind putting in the extra hours.

Being able to stand beside the President at state events was a dream come true for him. Since his secondary school days, he had always been fascinated by images of the Singapore President being flanked by two uniformed personnel, the HADCs, on TV and newspapers.

MAJ Venod (far left) carrying out his duty as a HADC for the first time at the SAF Day parade in 2021.

One of the HADCs would often be a commando donning the distinctive Red Beret, said MAJ Venod, as he listed the names of former commandos who had served as HADCs over the decades.

"I told myself if I were to sign on with Army, the Commandos would be the unit that I want to join."

Then-CPT Venod at his United States Ranger Course graduation in 2014.
Sharing a light-hearted moment with his soldiers towards the end of their 72-km route march in 2012. He was then Officer Commanding of 5th Company in 1st Commando Battalion.

MAJ Venod hopes that as a HADC now, he too can inspire young boys to become a Commando, just as previous generations of Commando HADCs had inspired him.

Doing his mum proud

Being a HADC has also allowed her mother to see what he does at work, he added.

He had not been able to share much about his work with his mother due to the sensitive nature of Commando training and missions.

With his Australian foster mum (left), mother and father at his officer cadet graduation in Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Australia, in 2002.

"So whatever Istana events that I took part in, she would always ask me whether she can see it on Madam President's Facebook," said MAJ Venod.

He added: "I'm just happy that I can now do a role that my family members can (see) and relate to, and that my mom can be proud of right now.

"Giving her that joy at this stage of her life, I think it's priceless."

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