Fear of heights did not ground his Red Lions dream

This National Day, Second Warrant Officer Russell Ong will free-fall with eight fellow Red Lions from a height of over 3,000m to land on the Padang.
This National Day, Second Warrant Officer Russell Ong will free-fall with eight fellow Red Lions from a height of over 3,000m to land on the Padang.PHOTO: THE SINGAPORE ARMY/FACEBOOK

It took Red Lions member Russell Ong two years of skydiving before he got over his fear of heights and started loving the sport.

Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Ong said he took the leap because he wanted to fit in with the rest of his commando team.

"When you don the red beret, there's pride," said 2WO Ong, 39, speaking to the media last Saturday. "You just want to be a part of them, part of the family and to be able to be a skydiver,"

This National Day, 2WO Ong will free-fall with fellow Red Lions from a height of over 3,000m to land on the Padang. The team of nine is led by First Warrant Officer (1WO) Melvin Ho, 46.

They will free-fall out of the helicopter one by one and come together in mid-air to form a ring by linking their arms together.

This manoeuvre, which has been around since the Red Lions' early days, is known as a "bomb burst", and "looks like a flower opening up", said 1WO Ho. He added: "This year happens to be our Bicentennial so we wanted everything to go back to the good old days."

At a separate event with parade participants last Saturday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said commemorating the Bicentennial is just one focus of this year's parade, which will also feature the Merdeka Generation, in the light of the Merdeka Generation Package.

 

Dr Ng said it would be difficult to try to portray 200 years through a show, adding that the parade is not meant to be the main event for the Bicentennial.

"I think it's a good balance, and I think the messages there resonate with what commemorating a bicentennial means," he added.

  • Additional reporting by Lim Min Zhang
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2019, with the headline 'Fear of heights did not ground his Red Lions dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe