Having spent his formative years overseas, 20-year-old Kyle Brendan Coughlan initially experienced culture shock when he enlisted in the Singapore Armed Forces.
However, he was able to quickly find his footing - and excel.
Yesterday evening, he was one of 21 graduates to receive the Distinguished Honour Graduate award, the highest achievement given at the 31st Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade held at Pasir Laba Camp.
The reviewing officer for the parade was Minister of State Sam Tan.
Third sergeant Coughlan was one of 1,200 Specialist Cadets on parade, comprising 1,076 from the Singapore Army, 55 from the Republic of Singapore Navy and 69 from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.
The parade marks the completion of the cadets' 22-week combat and leadership course and their graduation as SAF Specialists, receiving the rank of 3SG.
3SG Coughlan made a conscious choice to do his national service. Born to an Irish father and a Singaporean mother, he held citizenships in both countries. Although born in Singapore, he moved soon after and had lived in several countries. Between the ages of 15 and 18, he studied in Singapore at United World College of South-east Asia. At 18, he decided to drop his Irish passport.
"I knew that all my friends would be going overseas to study after graduating and if I chose the Singapore citizenship, I would have to stay and do NS. I always knew I was going to choose Singapore, I'm close to family here and I've made really good friends in the army."
In his speech, Mr Tan emphasised the need for a strong defence force in the light of recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and Jakarta. "NS has been the cornerstone of our defence, securing our peace and stability."