“Country above self” is a saying that many of us might be familiar with. For ME2 Toh Yi Jun, an Air Force Engineer (AFE) who participated in Exercise Pitch Black 2022 (XPB 22), being a part of the multilateral exercise meant having to put the requirements of her country first and postponing her wedding. We caught up with her to find out more.
Hi ME2 Yi Jun! Could you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Hello, I am ME2 Toh Yi Jun, an Air Force Engineer from 817 SQN. I specialise in the maintenance of the F-15SG, and my day-to-day role involves generating and sustaining air power for the RSAF.
Was this your first time participating in XPB?
Yes, this was my first time at XPB! My main role in the exercise was to ensure that our F-15SGs are in serviceable condition and ready for flight to take part in the exercise. This includes ensuring that the various aspects of the F-15SG fighter aircraft, such as the tyres, life support, pneudraulics and fuel systems were properly maintained. Although I had previous experience training overseas during the Darwin Detachments in 2020 and 2021, I had always wanted to be a part of this exercise in order to learn more from the other participating countries. Thus, I volunteered to participate in this year’s edition.
How was the experience like at XPB 22?
It was a fantastic experience where I learned a lot about the importance of teamwork and cohesiveness. These were key to overcome the daily challenges due to the high tempo of the exercise. We aimed to deliver quality service to our participating aircraft, and this provided an additional level of stress to the team. But we were able to complete the exercise and missions safely without any safety accidents.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to interact with the participants from other air forces, and learn more about their roles and practices. It was a fruitful and memorable experience that I will never forget, and I am grateful to the RSAF for giving me such an opportunity.
Sounds like you had a fruitful time there! Were there any challenges that you had to manage?
Initially, my fiancé and I were planning to hold our wedding on 6 Aug 22, the same date that he proposed on last year. This date held special significance to the both of us. However, when I got notified of the exercise dates, we had several discussions and we agreed to postpone our wedding date as he did not want me to have any regrets for not being able to participate in the exercise.
What motivated your decision to do so?
I feel that multilateral exercises are crucial not just to the RSAF, but also to Singapore and the SAF, as it allows us to demonstrate our capabilities to other participating nations while giving our own personnel the opportunity to train realistically in a much larger and more challenging environment.
It is a chance for us to showcase our operational readiness while learning from other best practices to enhance our own operating procedures. By participating in XPB 22, I aimed to put my training to good use and strengthen our knowledge of our current processes.
How did your fiancé and family members support your decision?
My fiancé and I are both RSAF regular servicemen, so we understand the importance to contribute to the defence of our nation. Since our decision, my fiancé also had the opportunity to be part of the National Day Parade 2022 celebrations as part of the pyrotechnics crew.
My family had also been supportive of our decision. This, coupled with the relaxation in the national COVID-19 restrictions, also meant that we can look forward to a wedding where more of our relatives and friends can attend.
While I was away for XPB 22, my sister and fiancé have also been helping out with wedding preparations back at home, such as the confirmation of the venue, and selection of pre-wedding photos. I am really grateful to my fiancé and my family for their support.
We salute you for your dedication and thank your family and fiancé for the support that they have provided so that you can continue to carry out your duties! Now that XPB 22 has come to a close, here’s wishing you all the best in planning your wedding, and a happy marriage ahead!