SINGAPORE - When she was six years old, Emerald Lim beamed with pride as she put a Ranger tab on her father's uniform, after he completed one of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) most gruelling courses.
But on Thursday (Feb 23), their roles were reversed. Ms Lim, now 22, one of the graduates of the 30th Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade, received the rank of third-sergeant (3SG) from her proud father, a 41-year-old warrant officer with the Commando formation.
A total of 1,125 SAF servicemen and women from the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Republic of Singapore Air Force graduated as specialists on Thursday evening, in a ceremony held at Pasir Laba Camp.
It marked the completion of 22 weeks of training in leadership and combat skills.
3SG Lim, an armour tank leader, said she was inspired by her father's example to sign on with the SAF, and when the going got tough, she turned to him for advice.
"We are (from) different vocations so he couldn't give me many tips. But when I was unsure of how to lead a group of people, he told me to do my job, do it well, and give it my best," she said.
The graduation parade was attended by Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Health Chee Hong Tat.
In a speech, Mr Chee highlighted the role SAF's specialists play in securing Singapore's peace and security, in the face of a challenging security environment, arising from radicalism and terrorism, to borderless threats such as fake news and the spread of hatred.
"Beyond equipment and technology, the true strength of the SAF lies in its people... As specialists, we will depend on you, and your men and women will depend on you to lead with strength and skill," Mr Chee said.
3SG Zachary Yeo, 22, a naval warfare system specialist with the RSN, graduated top of the navy cohort, earning the coveted golden bayonet.
The full-time national serviceman said he initially lacked the motivation to serve his National Service (NS), but was advised by his father to look at the bigger picture.
"He told me that it's compulsory to protect our nation, because we don't know what is going to hit us (Singapore). There are bombings in Indonesia, and the news also reported that there are people working for ISIS ( Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) in Singapore," he said.
"NS is the best time to learn how to be prepared, he told me," said 3SG Yeo.
3SG Yeo eventually found the challenges of being a naval serviceman fulfilling and immersed himself in the seafaring culture - from tying knots to navigating a vessel.
"I gained a new perspective. Every day, I looked forward to learning new things," he said.