First full-scale parade marking SAF Day held in 3 years

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SINGAPORE - For the first time in three years, a full-scale parade was held at the Safti Military Institute in Jurong to commemorate Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day on Friday (July 1).

The parade was dropped in 2020 in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, while last year's version was a scaled-down affair with 350 participants.

This year's parade saw about 1,000 participants, comprising full-time national servicemen (NSF) and regulars, pay tribute to all SAF servicemen and women.

Among the spectators were President Halimah Yacob and about 1,000 operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), NSFs and regulars.

She presented the State Colours to this year's Best Combat Unit, the 1st Commando Battalion, while Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen handed out 29 best unit and best national service unit awards.

Led by the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, SAF personnel recited the SAF pledge to reaffirm their loyalty to Singapore and their commitment to its defence.

Nineteen NSmen received awards in recognition of their contributions towards national service at a ceremony after the parade.

They include Major (NS) Muhammad Fazli Zulkifli, who is part of a battalion that was deployed to assist the Ministry of Health at the community care facility at Singapore Expo in 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak at the migrant worker dormitories.

It was not an easy decision, as his daughter was three months old at the time, but he volunteered to extend his two-week deployment by an additional two weeks.

"I felt that two weeks was not enough for me to further contribute to the people in the facility," said the 35-year-old.

One of the challenges he faced was encouraging his fellow NSmen to respond to the deployment as some were fearful of contracting Covid-19 at the facility.

"(But) my comrades rallied to the call, and came together to be a part of what was a very eventful and historic deployment," he said.

President Halimah Yacob presenting the State Colours to Major Tan Rui Lin, commanding officer of 1st Commando Battalion, at Safti Military Institute. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Another award recipient, Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Graham Gerard Ong-Webb, 47, had voluntarily extended his reservist obligations, which ended in 2012, to at least 2025.

"I always believe that if one can do more to go beyond the basic call of duty, one should do so, especially if there is an opportunity to pass on skills and experience to the next generation of NSmen," he said.

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