Thanks to all NSmen past and present

I read with much interest Mr Lim Min Zhang's article (What a bleeding stomach taught me about national service; Dec 28, 2017) and Mr Tan Teck Huat's response (Organise reunion for pioneer NS officers; Forum Online, Dec 30, 2017).

Although decades stand between their full-time national service experience, what is common is that both men gave their time and service, like the more than one million men who have served this nation in national service.

We owe much debt and gratitude to every batch of NSmen, whether they are officers or non-officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Home Team.

We owe a special "thank you" to the first batch of officer cadets, as they pioneered NS.

Upon their shoulders, NS has evolved into a nation-building experience that creates amazing bonds among those who serve together.

Last year, as part of NS50 celebrations, various events recognised the contributions of NSmen past and present, such as the launch of NS50 at the Basic Military Training Centre and the NS50 commemorative dinner.

I attended a few such events, for which pioneers who enlisted in 1967 were invited and their contributions recognised.

Although decades stand between their full-time national service experience, what is common is that both men gave their time and service, like the more than one million men who have served this nation in national service.

Pioneer batches of NSmen and their sons were also invited to watch the National Day Parade at the Floating Platform, where there was a salute to the NSmen in the audience as a special tribute.

Various constituencies also organised ceremonies to thank the NSmen and present NS50 vouchers to them.

There was also the Singapore Art Society's special exhibition to commemorate NS, the transport operators' one-day free transport for servicemen in uniform, and discounts for NSmen at retailers.

I served in NS from 1981 to last year.

Over the years, my friends and I have seen several batches of Officer Cadet School (OCS) cadets organise their own reunions.

In January 2016, my OCS platoon gathered at old Safti, visited our old bunks and corridors, had a meal with our platoon warrant officer and reminisced over our OCS days.

We did not wait for Mindef's directions, but did it on our own accord. This made it more meaningful.

OCS cadets are grateful for the trail-blazing pioneer batch; they paved the way for us.

They are much appreciated and honoured in the many events of NS50, on the murals of OCS and in the deep recesses of the hearts and minds of those who walk after them.

Leonard Yeow Ghim Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Thanks to all NSmen past and present'. Print Edition | Subscribe