Singapore commemorates 50 years of national service (NS) this year (1967 – 2017). Since my enlistment at a young age of 18 years old in 1975, I had been a part of NS for 42 years.
My group of friends from the Officer Cadets School (OCS), SAFTI is planning to get together next month to celebrate 40 years after being commissioned as an officer of NS. The strong bonds among us kept us together after all these years. We met on several occasions since 1980. August 2017 will be our 4th major get-together.
I served two and a half years after taking my GCE “A” Level examinations in 1975. My university education was put on hold until my completion of full-time NS liability in 1978. We used the term run-out-date (ROD) to mark the end of full-time NS. Now it is called operationally ready date (ORD).
We then went on to serve 13 years of reservist trainings starting from 1979. These were short stints of trainings and exercises during our university breaks and when we had to take leave from our work place/employer.
National Service is one way for us to show and exercise our loyalty towards Singapore. While we were going through the trainings, we might dislike them and felt that it was disruptive to our lives. But on looking back, I was a better person for it.
I can laugh at many silly things we did. NS taught me to be independent and to be able to do things on my own. From sweeping the fallen leaves on the road to keeping our living quarters and toilets clean. I was taught housekeeping unknowingly, to shine my boots, iron my uniforms, and mend my clothes. We had to stand-by-our-beds for morning inspections. My commander would throw a coin on the bedspread over my bed and see whether the coin bounced up (it must be that taut). He would look into the barrel of my rifle and pronounced that there was an “elephant” in my barrel. I had not cleaned the barrel well enough to be free of explosive powder dust.
Those were days. They left an impressions on me. I still remember them. Happy NS50 Singapore!
Timeline of NS for me
Report on 29 December 1975 to Central Manpower Base
Did recruit training in Pulau Tekong for three months.
Completed Section Leader course in Pulau Tekong
SAFTI – OCS 4th SMC Senior Term
13 December 1976 to 30 April 1977
Trainer at OCS 6th SMC
1977 to 1978
Posted to 152 PDF (Beach Road Camp) from 20 Feb 1979
Last reporting for a full-scale exercise was from 7 January 1992 to 18 January 1992.
Completion of 13-Year Cycle of ICTs 29 January 1992 at Field Defence Squadron RSAF Tengah Air Base. Put on FDS-TAB dormant reserve for another 3 years.