Friends, family and fellow servicemen see off 3SG Gavin Chan at military funeral

ST VIDEO: NG JUN SEN
Servicemen of all ranks lined up on both sides of the driveway of Mandai Crematorium, from lance corporals to colonels, and the officers saluted the hearse as it arrived.
Servicemen of all ranks lined up on both sides of the driveway of Mandai Crematorium, from lance corporals to colonels, and the officers saluted the hearse as it arrived. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Servicemen of all ranks lined up on both sides of driveway of Mandai Crematorium, and the officers saluted the hearse as it arrived.
Servicemen of all ranks lined up on both sides of driveway of Mandai Crematorium, and the officers saluted the hearse as it arrived. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Family members and friends broke down when the hearse reached Mandai Crematorium.
Family members and friends broke down when the hearse reached Mandai Crematorium.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Eight pallbearers in No. 1 uniform carrying the coffin into the service hall.
Eight pallbearers in No. 1 uniform carrying the coffin into the service hall.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Family members watch as pallbearers carried the coffin into the service hall.
Family members watch as pallbearers carried the coffin into the service hall.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Under a grey sky, more than 100 friends, family and fellow servicemen paid their final respects to the late Third Sergeant Gavin Chan Hiang Cheng at his Pasir Ris home on Saturday (Sept 23).

The 21-year-old, who died in Australia during overseas drill Exercise Wallaby, was accorded the honours of a military funeral, and his fellow 3SGs bore his coffin.

When the cortege left Pasir Ris at about 10.15am for Mandai Crematorium, rain started pouring.

More than 300 people were waiting at the crematorium to receive him, including his parents. They were composed when they arrived, then broke down when the hearse approached, before regaining their composure as the flag-draped coffin was carried past them.

Servicemen of all ranks lined up on both sides of the driveway at Mandai Crematorium, from lance corporals to colonels, and the officers saluted the hearse as it arrived. All of them wore black armbands on their left arm.

Eight pallbearers in No. 1 uniform carried the coffin past the family into the service hall, where eulogies are being delivered, and the state flag was handed over to the family.

Those paying their respects filled the service hall. 

Three rounds were fired by six soldiers as a salute, followed by a last post ceremony, a final farewell to the late serviceman where all uniformed servicemen at the funeral salute. 

Mourners then observed a minute of silence and a rouse or bugle call was sounded. 

3SG Chan, the oldest of four siblings, was guiding a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle out of difficult terrain last Friday (Sept 15), when it landed on its side.

He was found unconscious next to the vehicle, and transferred to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

His family returned to Singapore with his body on Tuesday.

3SG Chan's father, Mr Desmond Chan, told reporters at his son's wake on Wednesday that he wanted his platoon-mates not to feel bad, and instead to think positive.

"Life still moves on," said the 49-year-old cargo sales manager.

3SG Chan's friends had posted tributes to him online after the news of his death.

On Saturday morning, Serangoon Junior College, which he had attended, posted a tribute to him on Instagram.

It called him "a young man with the heart of an angel".

"Gavin's passing is not the way things should be," wrote the school. "But we hold on to the way he showed us life should be - driven by deep feeling and purpose, poured out for others in word and deed. ​May this live on through the hearts and hands of those of us whom Gavin has touched."

It was 5 August 2013, and Gavin Chan,​ ​Vice-President of the Community Champions Council, addressed SR to advocate on behalf of the less-privileged​, . '​T​here are still some people... that perhaps aren’t as lucky as us to enjoy the everyday comforts that we may sometimes take for granted.​ ​These people are like us, just that maybe they aren’t as well off in terms of socio-economic conditions.​ ​Some were born with disabilities or diseases that limit them.​ ​But that is not the way things should be.'​ . Gavin was then, by his own count, 16 years, 11 months and 7 days old​. It seemed too little life experience to understand or speak convincingly of suffering. Yet, ​the things we often attribute to age and wisdom were​​ strangely present in ​him, for he had lived a​ ​rich and full ​lif​​e​ of service. Every time he spoke​ up​ ​for ​communities​-​in-need​ -​​ whether they be the children he reached out to every week, or the quake victims of Nepal where he had been on SRGCE -​ ​​a fire seemed to possess his soft-spoken, unassuming being, a​​nd he captivated us, students and teachers alike. ​In a world where we too often prioritise and achieve for self, he was someone for whom achievement was learning to serve others. . SR bids farewell to an ​inspiring​​ Community Champion, Student Leader, College Ambassador, ​and most of all, ​a young man with ​the heart of an angel​. Gavin's passing is not the way things should be. But we hold on to the way he showed us life should be - driven by deep feeling and purpose, poured out for others in word and deed. ​May this live on through the hearts and hands of those of us whom Gavin has touched.
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It was 5 August 2013, and Gavin Chan,​ ​Vice-President of the Community Champions Council, addressed SR to advocate on behalf of the less-privileged​, . '​T​here are still some people... that perhaps aren’t as lucky as us to enjoy the everyday comforts that we may sometimes take for granted.​ ​These people are like us, just that maybe they aren’t as well off in terms of socio-economic conditions.​ ​Some were born with disabilities or diseases that limit them.​ ​But that is not the way things should be.'​ . Gavin was then, by his own count, 16 years, 11 months and 7 days old​. It seemed too little life experience to understand or speak convincingly of suffering. Yet, ​the things we often attribute to age and wisdom were​​ strangely present in ​him, for he had lived a​ ​rich and full ​lif​​e​ of service. Every time he spoke​ up​ ​for ​communities​-​in-need​ -​​ whether they be the children he reached out to every week, or the quake victims of Nepal where he had been on SRGCE -​ ​​a fire seemed to possess his soft-spoken, unassuming being, a​​nd he captivated us, students and teachers alike. ​In a world where we too often prioritise and achieve for self, he was someone for whom achievement was learning to serve others. . SR bids farewell to an ​inspiring​​ Community Champion, Student Leader, College Ambassador, ​and most of all, ​a young man with ​the heart of an angel​. Gavin's passing is not the way things should be. But we hold on to the way he showed us life should be - driven by deep feeling and purpose, poured out for others in word and deed. ​May this live on through the hearts and hands of those of us whom Gavin has touched.

A post shared by Serangoon Junior College (@srjc_official) on

Minister of Defence Ng Eng Hen also posted a message on his Facebook page saying, "The SAF mourns the loss of this precious son and extends our deepest condolences to the bereaved family."

The Singapore Army posted a tribute on its Facebook page, saying he was a leader and role model to all who knew him, and will be dearly missed.

His Officer Commanding (OC), CPT Benedict Cai said: "Gavin was professional and disciplined and set high standards for himself and the soldiers he led. We will remember his steady confidence, his drive for perfection, his humility, and his leading by example. It was our privilege and honour to have Gavin as part of our family."