One voice activates 2,000 men and women

LTC Alvin Tjioe, 34, the parade commander, is also the commanding officer of the 1st Commando Battalion. Pupils from Hong Kah Primary School craning their necks to see the Red Lions parachutists at the parade preview yesterday.
Pupils from Hong Kah Primary School craning their necks to see the Red Lions parachutists at the parade preview yesterday.ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG
LTC Alvin Tjioe, 34, the parade commander, is also the commanding officer of the 1st Commando Battalion. Pupils from Hong Kah Primary School craning their necks to see the Red Lions parachutists at the parade preview yesterday.
LTC Alvin Tjioe, 34, the parade commander, is also the commanding officer of the 1st Commando Battalion. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG

With his voice alone, Lieutenant-Colonel Alvin Tjioe has to move more than 2,000 men and women from across 37 contingents.

Not that he is fazed by commanding the once-in-a-lifetime National Day Parade which celebrates the country's 50th year of independence. "There is, of course, an expectation... to do well but I don't let the pressure interfere with my performance," said the 34-year-old, ahead of yesterday's preview in front of around 26,000 spectators, made up mostly of Primary 5 pupils from different schools.

To ensure he gets all 21 Malay commands right and clear during the 52-minute military parade on Aug 9, the parade commander runs through them whenever he is alone at home or in the car.

But the Golden Jubilee parade is also special to the commanding officer of the 1st Commando Battalion, as he will be marching with the men who have trained under him over the past year.

The Red Berets won the Singapore Armed Forces' Best Combat Unit award for the 12th consecutive time this year, earning their spot in one of the four Guard of Honour contingents. The other three are made up of men and women from the navy, air force and police.

"These soldiers on parade are also the soldiers who have journeyed with me over the past one year to get the unit to where it is. So having trained so hard with them, being on parade with them is the icing on the cake," said LTC Tjioe, who is married.

During yesterday's preview, the spectators were wowed by the aerobatics of the Republic of Singapore Air Force ace pilots. But some of the loudest cheers were for the five parachutists from the SAF Red Lions, who swooped down on the Padang from 10,000 feet above ground.

The three-hour show, themed Majulah Singapura, was reviewed by Mr J.Y. Pillay, chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'One voice activates 2,000 men and women'. Print Edition | Subscribe