I am 2LT Bryan Tan Guang Jun, recipient of the Sword-of-Honour for the 117/19 Officer Cadet Course. I recently commissioned and am currently serving in 165 SQN as an Air Warfare Officer (Air Defence Weapons). I would like to share my journey which I believe had prepared me and brought me to where I am today with the RSAF, upholding my duty towards the nation’s defence.
To me, life is just like a marathon. Some may say that I had a slow start in life. Indeed, I see myself as a late bloomer. Being streamed into the Normal Academic stream in secondary school, I took a slightly longer academic pathway as compared to my fellow peers – I enrolled in the Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP), which required me to complete 2 years of study with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) before I could progress to a local Polytechnic to further pursue my education.
During my time in ITE, I discovered my passion in volunteering through my Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) involvement with the Student Council. A person who played an integral part in shaping my perspective in life is probably none other than my CCA Teacher-in-Charge and my Mentor, Mr Kenneth Wong, who was able to spot my passion and leadership qualities, provide me with opportunities to lead and serve and share with me the joys of altruism. He groomed me to the best I could be, where I learnt and grew under his guidance. As I continued to volunteer, I was able to understand myself better, discover my strengths in leadership, while at the same time, work on the areas I was weak on.
Two years in ITE ended in a high note – I graduated as the Valedictorian for my Cohort, paving a new road for me to pursue my Diploma studies with Singapore Polytechnic (SP). Through the support and strong camaraderie with my classmates, I managed to juggle between studies and volunteering – serving 3 CCAs with SP and securing a place in the National University of Singapore to pursue my undergraduate studies in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. As an ITE alumnus, I would be delighted if my story could serve as encouragement to my juniors. It does not matter if you have a slow start in life. What matters most is how you end your journey! If I can overcome all odds, so can you!
I knew that I was entering a new phase in my life when I received the enlistment letter for National Service. Having taken the longer academic pathway, it was inevitable for me to have the anxiety and fear of possible ostracisation by my fellow enlistees as I am older than them. I was also worried that I would not be able to adapt and transit from a civilian to military lifestyle. However, the strong camaraderie and brotherhood forged between my peers saw me through all challenges. My worries were unfounded. I told myself repeatedly during my training, “No matter what the outcome may be, I just have to put in my very best effort in every task given to me and never waste the opportunity given.” With this mindset, I pushed myself to excel in my Basic Military Training (BMT) and earned the opportunity to enter the Officer Cadet School (OCS).
RSAF training during my Professional Term in OCS as an AWO (ADW) was certainly not easy. We had to take multiple theory and practical tests to ascertain our weapon knowledge and operational capabilities. During the midst of training, we were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak; causing us to change our training with the new measures in place. While the measures brought about certain restrictions to training, we managed to overcome them. As the saying goes “The only constant in life is change” and through it all, I learnt to always expect the unexpected.
My fondest memory during training would definitely be the last outfield training I had with my fellow peers. It was the compilation of all the knowledge we have learnt, from planning to execution, being tested in an entire outfield. I was selected as the Team Commander and I had the opportunity to lead my team for this Exercise. As tired as we might be during the exercise, many great memories and bonds were formed as a team. Even now, when we look back at the tough times we had, we would reminisce and laugh together at all these shared memories. Through these 9 months of training, I am grateful to have forged great camaraderie amongst my cohort and these bonds united us in overcoming challenges and many ups and downs during our weapon systems training as one family.
Till this day, I still could not believe that I have been selected as the Sword-of-Honour recipient for my cohort. I am very thankful to have had strong and unwavering support from my instructors and coursemates who believed in me, allowing me to receive this opportunity to be the Sword-of-Honour recipient. I will continue to strive for the best, and to be someone whom others can look up to and uphold the standards and image of an RSAF officer.
I believe that no matter what we are pursuing in life, what stages we are at, we ought to strive to do our very best. For my two years of National Service, I seek to continue to learn and develop myself holistically, fulfil my time in a meaningful manner and impact the lives of my team members and the SQN.