Family members of the late full-time national serviceman (NSF) Liu Kai stood side by side and held hands as they tearfully watched his casket being brought into the service hall at Mandai Crematorium yesterday afternoon.
Hundreds of people, including friends, military personnel and even strangers, gathered to say their final farewell to the 22-year-old, who was given a military funeral after he died during a training exercise last Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu's parents and two older sisters gathered around his casket and had a moment together before a memorial service. Pallbearers then carried the casket, draped with the state flag, into the hearse.
The family was visibly emotional as the hearse made its way out of the carpark in Woodlands Crescent, where the wake was held, around noon. His mother, who had to be helped out of her wheelchair, wailed uncontrollably and repeatedly cried in Mandarin: "My Liu Kai."
CFC Liu, a transport operator from Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Transport Hub West, was participating in a field training exercise in the Jalan Murai training area when a Bionix armoured vehicle reversed into the Land Rover he was in. Hewas injured and pronounced dead about 25 minutes later.
He was posthumously accorded the rank of CFC.
At Mandai Crematorium, hundreds of servicemen lined the driveway as the hearse pulled in behind a military band. The casket was brought into a packed hall, where a ceremony took place in private.
Major Elton Tan, commanding officer at Transport Hub West, delivered an eulogy at the service. Colonel Terry Tan, commander of the Combat Service Support Command, also presented CFC Liu's father with the state flag.
One of CFC Liu's sisters, who declined to be named, had earlier told reporters that the family was waiting for him to return to celebrate her birthday last Saturday.
His father, who also did not give his name, said the news was hard to accept. "But it was his duty to serve national service," he said.
CFC Liu, who enlisted in April this year, was a filial son, according to his father. When his mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier this year, he took good care of her. They were close and he told her everything, said his father.
The family moved from China to Singapore when the three siblings were in primary school. They have lived here for more than a decade.
CFC Liu had planned to go to university after his national service and get a job as an engineer.
His peers remember him as a cheerful friend who was always willing to lend a helping hand, and a dedicated soldier who was proud to serve the nation.
A safety timeout on training has since been called. A Committee of Inquiry will look into CFC Liu's death.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he had written to CFC Liu's parents to offer the Defence Ministry's and the SAF's deepest condolences, and he was praying that the family "will find comfort and healing through this difficult time".
"We honour the memory of Liu Kai, a true son of Singapore who gave his life in service of his country. May he rest in peace," he added.