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NDP 2019: Back together in vehicle after over 40 years

Friends for more than 40 years, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond Tan (right), 68, and former national serviceman Jeffie Koh, 60, will be in the same vehicle during this year's parade.
Friends for more than 40 years, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond Tan (right), 68, and former national serviceman Jeffie Koh, 60, will be in the same vehicle during this year's parade.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Theirs is a friendship struck up while serving in the military and it has lasted more than 40 years.

One was an officer commanding (OC) of an armour company and the other was his runner and driver.

Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond Tan, 68, was an army regular taking up his OC appointment in 1977 while Mr Jeffie Koh, 60, was a full-time national serviceman who had just enlisted.

"Armour was new then (to the army) and we had to work very hard to prove ourselves. So I wanted someone who would do the work and not be calculative as my M113 (armoured personnel carrier) driver," said LTC (Ret) Tan.

"I saw that Jeffie was really dedicated and never counted the time spent. And we could gel very well together."

Both men were part of the 41st Singapore Armoured Regiment cohort that won the unit's first Best Combat Unit award in 1978.

They maintained contact after Mr Koh, who was a lance corporal, completed his national service, meeting once every two months for long walks and chats.

 
 

When LTC (Ret) Tan was invited to be part of the group of Merdeka Generation servicemen participating in this year's National Day Parade mobile column, he was asked whether he knew anyone who wanted to join him.

The first person he thought of was Mr Koh.

Mr Koh, who is semi-retired, was not in Singapore when he received the call from LTC (Ret) Tan.

"My first thought was, what is a mobile column? But once I came back, I told him, 'I'm with you, no problem'," said Mr Koh.

"After all these years, we are back in the same vehicle and I get to look after him again: 'Sir, look out for your head'. It's a blessing and a joy."



ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A friendship forged in SAF stands the test of time

One was an Officer Commanding of an armour company, and the other was his runner and driver. Despite the disparity in their ranks, Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond Tan (right), 68, and Mr Jeffie Koh, 60, who ended his full-time national service as lance corporal, struck up a friendship and have maintained it over the past 40-plus years. Both men were part of the 41st Singapore Armoured Regiment cohort that won the unit's first Best Combat Unit award in 1978. They will be in this year's National Day Parade mobile column, a military vehicle drive-past to showcase Singapore's strength. In the lead-up to the parade on Aug 9, The Straits Times will bring you stories every day of participants, as well as tips on where and how you can capture the best photos of fireworks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Back together in vehicle after over 40 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe