NSMen Share: Celebrating Christmas In The Army

NSmen on how they spent the festive season during their time in the military.

By Sean Yee        23 December 2022

There’s a special feeling during Christmas that is just indescribable – the air somehow feels cooler, the smell of festive goodies is everywhere, and everyone just seems more joyous than ever!

For NSmen, it means time off after strenuous military operations to relish in the sweet comfort of their homes, while reconnecting with family and friends whom some have not seen in a long time. However, military camps still need guarding, and crucial military operations still need conducting.

For this special festive edition of NSmen Share, we have some NSmen share their personal experiences celebrating Christmas while they were in the army. And on a side note, remember to thank the military personnel who protect our nation while we celebrate!  Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


“Perhaps I’m getting older, but I remember Christmas being more festive for us back then. It was a sign that the year was ending, which meant public holidays and downtime for us! Of course, the “lucky” few who were picked for guard duty were not as happy, but still!

I remember the days that led up to Christmas – the food was more edible (speaks a lot about food prepared back then) and training was not as intense. Our superiors were also in a festive mood, being much more approachable and friendly as opposed to other periods in the year.” – CPL Luo Liang So, Infantry


“Christmas was always a double-edged sword for us. The lucky ones get to go home; the not-so-lucky ones however, had to be called for guard duty. I remembered the trepidation I felt as the guard duty roster was announced, fearing my name would appear on that sheet.

Thankfully, I got to go home that season! Some of my friends, however, were desperately trying to find ways to swap their duties. While I may not have celebrated Christmas in camp, I have heard stories – like how those on duty enjoyed festive snacks, with an Encik even dropping by in the afternoon to bring them prata!” – CPL Jason Chung, 613SIR


“I was and still am a huge gamer – During my time in the army, I always looked forward to revisiting MMORPGS like Ragnarök and World of Warcraft during my days off!

Christmas meant free time to indulge in my favourite games – an amazing reprieve from the regimentation of military training. These games usually have their own festive events as well, so it was the perfect penultimate conclusion to my year! I still fondly remember rushing home from camp and turning the computer on immediately, just so that I could get a headstart on the virtual festivities that awaited me! 

I did have guard duty though on New Year’s so that wasn’t the best ending! But the fact that I spent my Christmas doing what I love most made it all worthwhile.”  CPL Sean Chin, 1SIR


Sean Yee (centre)

“I actually spent my Christmas literally in camp.

Yes, I got picked to do guard duty during the festivities, guarding the perimeters on a public holiday. Of course, it wasn’t the most exciting way to spend it but I’m glad I did! It was during my Sergeant Cadet days, and I got to connect with platoon mates whom I never really engaged with during our training days. I also remembered booking out and eating plates of sashimi at Sushi Express after our shift was over; kind of my Christmas gift to myself!”  3SG Sean Yee, Signal Training School


“I really enjoy travelling so Christmas during my time in the army wasn’t the most exciting for sure! I did however, wander around Orchard Road with friends after booking out, admiring the glorious Christmas lights, followed by dinner with friends, when we likely discussed future travel plans.

These plans could finally materialise as an NSman, as I could combine leisure travel, Yuletide festivities and meeting up with friends over several fun and fulfilling tips. Covid-19 did halt my plans for a bit. Thankfully, after three long years – that’s over a thousand days, count ’em! – I’m finally able to resume my year-end holidays! I’ll be spending Christmas and New Year in Bangkok, catching up with friends, gorging myself on yummy Thai cuisine and revelling in the electrifying atmosphere of the city.”  – 3SG Alevin Chan, Computer Tech CAI Centre, SAFTI MI

In appreciation of our NSmen as we commemorate 55 Years of National Service (NS55), servicemen can enjoy over 180 exclusive NS55 deals. More info on the deals here: www.safra.sg/membership/ns55-recognition-package-singapore/ns55-deals

If you’re not yet a SAFRA member, you can get your complimentary membership as part of the NS55 Recognition Package (also valid for existing members). Register now before 31 December 2022!

Share your favourite NS memories with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!

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Main photo: Christmas at East Timor – 2WO Alfred Kwok (R) leading members of the SAF medics in a little Christmas decoration exercise (SPH Media Trust)