SINGAPORE - It was a coincidence that Madam Loh Ngiuk Lan and her family were having lunch at the same restaurant as a squadron of soldiers on Oct 8, but it saved their day.
The lift to the second-floor restaurant was out of service, and just as Madam Loh was trying to figure out how to get her wheelchair-bound mother-in-law upstairs, Master Sergeant Johan Paramasivan and his squadron mates came to the rescue.
Mr Johan, 30, told The Straits Times that about 40 soldiers from Squadron 706 of the Air Power Generation Command were gathered at Swatow Seafood Restaurant in Toa Payoh for their squadron anniversary.
The family first approached them to ask how to get up to the second floor, but they later found that the lift was not working.
Mr Johan said they heard Madam Loh's mother-in-law say she will wait downstairs while her family ate.
"We felt bad that grandma wanted to wait downstairs, so we offered to help," he said.
With two men in front, two by the side and two at the back, they turned Madam Loh's mother-in-law's wheelchair into a sedan chair and hoisted her up to the second floor.
The group of six included two regular servicemen - Mr Johan and third sergeant Sukhdial Singh - and four full-time national servicemen - lance corporals Wong Kai Xiong and Javier Teo, and privates Malcolm Ng and Ko Kai Sheng.
They provide ground logistics and medical operations in support of the Air Force.
After the Loh family had lunch, they called upon the six soldiers to help carry Madam Loh's mother-in-law downstairs.
"They thanked us and insisted on writing to Mindef," said Mr Johan. After some persuasion, the six provided Madam Loh with their names.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen shared the story on Facebook on Monday (Oct 31), with a photo of Madam Loh's letter dated Oct 14.
Said Dr Ng: "Earlier this month, six servicemen from The Republic of Singapore Air Force carried Madam Loh's 85-year-old mother-in-law up the stairs to Swatow Seafood Restaurant when the lift was not working. She later wrote in to commend them."