He fulfils dad's wish, with help from his mates

2LT Goh Jin Qiang was one of the 568 officer cadets commissioned yesterday. His dad died while he was undergoing the Officer Cadet Course.
2LT Goh Jin Qiang was one of the 568 officer cadets commissioned yesterday. His dad died while he was undergoing the Officer Cadet Course.PHOTO: MINDEF

Full-time national serviceman Goh Jin Qiang was looking forward to his family visiting him two weeks after he started the Officer Cadet Course.

But one day before their visit to the Officer Cadet School at Safti Military Institute in November last year, his father died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

Recalling the incident, the 23-year-old signals officer said: "It came as a shock because we didn't know my dad had heart issues... I wanted to drop out of the course as I wanted to spend more time with my mother and my three siblings."

He has two older sisters, aged 26 and 25, and a younger brother, aged 21. His mother is 49 years old.

"But my section mates and commanders supported and encouraged me, so I stayed on. This was also my father's wish - for me to be an officer."

Yesterday, 2nd Lieutenant Goh was one of 568 officer cadets to be commissioned after completing the 38-week Officer Cadet Course.

The commissioning parade was held at the Safti Military Institute in Upper Jurong Road and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean was the reviewing officer.

To commemorate 50 years of the Singapore Armed Forces, 64 officers and instructors from the inaugural Officer Cadet Course in 1966 were also present at the parade.

DPM Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, said: "The SAF is the final guarantor of our sovereignty and independence. It must maintain a decisive edge, by leveraging technology, keeping our systems strong, and our people ready and committed."

2LT Goh, who also has a diploma in information technology from Singapore Polytechnic, hopes to pay it forward and motivate other soldiers - the way his section mates and commanders did.

"They really looked out for me after I lost my dad," he said.

"Some new soldiers will think national service is a waste of time, but I hope I will be able to share my story with them and change their mindsets."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'He fulfils dad's wish, with help from his mates'. Print Edition | Subscribe