Meet our SAF NSmen of the Year: MAJ(NS) Wong Wei Yong and CFC(NS) Aaron Lee!

Meet our SAF NSmen of the Year: MAJ(NS) Wong Wei Yong and CFC(NS) Aaron Lee!

Recently, we had the opportunity to (virtually) speak to two of our NSmen, MAJ(NS) Wong Wei Yong and CFC(NS) Aaron Lee to understand a little more about their NS experience and how they feel about receiving the SAF NSmen of the Year award!

Hi guys, before we jump into the interview, do give us a quick introduction of yourselves!

MAJ(NS) Wong: Hello there, my name is MAJ(NS) Wong Wei Yong. I serve in the RSAF as an Air Warfare Officer (Ground-Based Air Defence). 

My current appointment is Officer Commanding (OC) in Divisional Air Defence Group (DAG), 6th Divisional Air Defence Battalion (6 DA Bn). 

Outside of my NS duties, I am a Senior Manager with Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel), taking care of Sales and Customer Experience Training.

CFC(NS) Lee: Hi, my name is CFC(NS) Aaron lee and my NS vocation is an Air Defence Weapon Operator (ADWO), operating the Improved-Homing All the Way Killer (I-Hawk) missile system at 163 Squadron. As my unit is transitioning to the new Aster 30 Missile System (Aster 30), I would see myself being deployed as an area reconnaissance force for the new system.
Outside of NS, I work as an engineer at Mediacorp's 1-Net Network Operation Centre (NOC).

First and foremost, congratulations to both on achieving the SAF NSmen of the Year award! Could you tell us how do you feel about receiving this award and is there anyone that you would like to attribute your success to?

MAJ(NS) Wong: It is a great honour and a strong testament that the SAF appreciates our NSmen and motivates me to continue to serve and do my part.

However, receiving this award is really a team effort. I couldn’t have done it alone. It starts at home with supportive and understanding family members. Next, my employer, Singtel, has always been a strong supporter and advocate of NS. Lastly, I am grateful to have a team of dedicated and committed NSmen serving together with me. I would attribute my success to them.

I would also like to specially mention my former CO and mentor, LTC(NS) Teo Ping Siong, who taught me how to be an Officer and Commander. Borrowing a quote from him,

“Being able to serve as a leader is a privilege. We must not only perform at our best to ensure mission success; our words and actions have the power to shape the lives of our men and women. Treasure and appreciate every single of them, help them find success as well.”

MAJ(NS) Wong (left) receiving the Formation NSman of the Year Award 2020 (Participation Command) from Commander Participation Command, BG Lau Boon Ping (right).

CFC(NS) Lee: I feel extremely honoured and thankful to have received this award. I would also like to dedicate this award to all the NSmen, past and present, who had dutifully served the nation during their reservist.

I would like to attribute my successful NS experience to the trainers at Delta Flight, 163 Squadron, for the comprehensive refresher courses that allowed me to continue contributing as an NSman, allowing me to upkeep and maintain 163 Squadron's motto of "Above The Best".

CFC (NS) Lee, then Corporal (CPL) (far right), during High-Key ICT in 2018.

Well-said, both! Indeed being able to serve as a leader is a privilege. So MAJ(NS) Wong, could you share with us more on your experience serving as an NSman?

MAJ(NS) Wong: I have served as an NSman for five and a half years starting from 2015. Other than being an OC with the unit, I am also currently serving as an Honorary Aide-De-Camp with the President’s Office. 

I have previously also volunteered to serve as Guest Liaison Officer in the National Day Parade, Parade and Ceremony Committee in 2016 and 2018. As Guest Liaison Officer, my responsibilities were to host civilian VIPs who were visiting the participants of their companies. I would receive and host them during the various NDP rehearsals, and these were definitely interesting experiences.

MAJ(NS) Wong serving as NDP Guest Liaison Officer in NDP 2018, together with his former CO, LTC Teo Ping Siong (Right).

How was your NS experience like, CFC(NS) Lee? 

CFC(NS) Lee: As my brothers did their NS in the Army, I had half-expected to join the same Service as them. I did not expect that I would be given the opportunity to be part of the Air Force, entrusted to safeguard Singapore's skies. Even though my siblings and my NS’ scope and responsibility were different, we were in agreement that we served the same purpose of Military Defence.

My NS experience was nothing short of spectacular. Being in a close-knitted GBAD unit at 163 Squadron, it was very fulfilling, and gave me a tremendous sense of purpose. As our 24/7 Air Defence operations requires us to be deployed 365 days a year, our unit would always come together to organise our own small celebration on occasions such as Christmas Day and Chinese New Year for the duty crew. 

Even though we might not be spending time with our loved ones at home during these events, we marked these special moments with our fellow brothers-in-arms, as we vigilantly defended Singapore’s skies together.  

CFC (NS) Aaron Lee , then Recruit (REC) (centre), with family members during Basic Military Training's (BMT) Passing Out Parade (POP) at Marina Bay Floating Platform in 2011.

I am sure those are some experiences that you would always hold dear to your heart. Are there any particular incident that was especially memorable to you during your service?

MAJ(NS) Wong: One particularly memorable experience was when I was an Officer Cadet, training in Brunei as part of Jungle Survival Training. As part of the training, we were deployed in a harsh jungle environment with very little food. After a few days in the jungle, I was feeling tired and weak from not eating much. It was also mentally and physically very tough. After 4 days in the jungle, I was nearing breaking point and considered giving up. The Jungle Survival Training was an important and pre-requisite training before I could be commissioned as an Officer. Giving up also meant giving up on my aspiration to become an officer.
However, my Instructor encouraged me and offered his advice. Till this day, I could still remember his words clearly:
“Pain is only temporary; your duty and responsibility are bigger than your pain. When the chips are down, the commander needs to stand tall. Carry on, not for yourself, but for the men and women that you will be leading in the future. Do this for them!”

In your personal opinion, why do you think it is important to serve the nation as NSmen?

CFC(NS) Lee:  Personally, I feel that as NSmen, our valuable experiences gained during our NS days allowed us to fine-tune and hone our skill-sets throughout the years, making us more skilled and seasoned soldiers.

This allowed us to better complement our NSFs and Regulars during our Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) call-ups, and continue contributing to our nation's military capabilities.

CFC (NS) Lee , then Recruit (REC) (foreground on the far right) during Basic Military Training's Outfield exercise in 2011.

How do you balance between work, NS and family commitment especially during High Key ICTs?

MAJ(NS) Wong: Being fully committed to whatever I am doing is my guiding principle. 

Firstly, I try to plan ahead to make sure the commitments do not overlap much. For example, I would try to finish my work projects ahead of time so that work would not be compromised while I am away for ICT. In addition, on days where there were no training, I will dedicate time to be with my family without distraction from work and NS.

I try to be 100% focused and present in everything I do. When in ICT, 100% attention on ICT. When with family, 100% attention on family. This way, nothing is compromised.

Exercise Brightfire in 2020 in South Africa. MAJ(NS) Wong participated as the Exercise Battery Commander.

Finally, do you have any parting advice for our readers?

MAJ(NS) Wong: Enjoy the training and forge the brotherhood that will stay with you through life.

CFC(NS) Lee: For new enlistees, try to enter NS with a positive and can-do attitude. Every experience has the potential for us to learn and grow during NS. It is important to enjoy the process.

For serving NSmen, we are given the chance and opportunity to ensure our loved ones, family and friends, are kept safe and protected through our combined reservist efforts. As such, we should always strive to give our very best during our ORNS call-ups.