National Service isn’t just all about blood, sweat and tears. It is also peppered with plenty of funny moments that are just as unforgettable, especially during outfield training. We speak to these NSmen on some of their truly memorable and hilarious moments.
“Once during training in Pulau Tekong, we were doing an overnight topography exercise. My team of four were bashing through some dense jungle when suddenly… in the darkness we heard a loud noise moving towards us at a very fast pace. We all panicked and my Sergeant who was in the front instinctively drew out his parang and started swinging it wildly. It was so hilarious seeing him do this as he was screaming at the same time!
Thankfully it worked and the sound moved away from us. Our fearsome unknown enemy? Probably a wild boar getting his kicks out of scaring young soldiers on outfield exercises in the dark of night!” – Derek Neville, CPL, 2 SIB
“I remember fondly an overseas outfield training in a desert. I always looked forward to nightfall as I would be able to snuggle into two thermal sleeping bags as it got very cold, while I watched shooting stars go by with my band of brothers.
There was one particular night when I was asleep and dreaming of one of my Muay Thai fights in the ring (I was actively competing in the sport during that time). Apparently, I ended up kicking my buddy in the head, which jolted him unpleasantly out of sleep. The other guys who were still awake saw this and laughed hysterically, while I remained sound asleep, completely unaware.
My friend didn’t wake me up either. Instead, he went back to sleep but with his helmet on for the rest of the night! He ended up telling me what happened the next morning, much to my embarrassment…” – Chai Kaiquan, CFC, 736 GDS/3 GDS
“During BMT, every man will go through a seven-day outfield training. The toughest part is not the training. The toughest part is to ‘endure’ in order to avoid visiting the latrine. It is a ‘minefield’, because every soldier will visit it every day, and it will get very full. The area is not very big as well, and you might just be stepping on someone else’s faeces as you dig a hole for yourself.
I managed to ‘endure’ for six days with some help from a fruit bar that helped to prevent the urge. However, on the sixth night, I finally gave in. I still remember spending one whole hour straining, as my ‘landmines’ got too hard to exit. But that was just the start of the nightmare.
Because once I released that plug, everything I ate resulted in a great urge to relieve myself. In the end, in the mere hours before returning to camp, I had visited the latrine so many times that I lost count.” – Tan Han Wen, CPL, 10 SIB
“Appointed as PC (Platoon Commander) runner, I had to carry the bulky signal set on my back and follow him around. When we stopped, my orders were to get down prone and take up defensive position. I was taking my own sweet time clearing stones as I gently got into prone position, when suddenly our battalion CO (Commanding Officer) walked by. He looked at me and asked, “You want to die young?” He told me to sit or squat, not get down prone with the signal set on my back. Well, it was CO’s orders, so I had better follow it!” – Gerald Wee, LCP, 6 SIR/649 SIR
There are only two types of people in Singapore: Those who enjoyed National Service (NS), and those who didn’t – but all will agree it was a memorable time. In this series, we speak with several NSmen who share their most memorable experiences during National Service.
Share your favourite NS memories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Main photo: Singapore Press Holdings