SINGAPORE - The family of the late full-time national serviceman (NSF) Liu Kai held hands as they tearfully watched his casket being taken into the service hall at Mandai Crematorium on Tuesday (Nov 6).
Hundreds of people, including friends, military personnel and even strangers, gathered to say their final farewell to Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu, who died during a training exercise last Saturday.
The 22-year-old, who was posthumously accorded the rank of CFC, was given a military funeral. Colonel Terry Tan, commander of the Combat Service Support Command (CSSCOM), also presented his father with the state flag.
Earlier in the day, CFC Liu's parents and two elder sisters gathered around his casket and had a brief moment together before the funeral service started. 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.
His mother, who had to be helped out of her wheelchair, was seen wailing uncontrollably and repeatedly saying 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. He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by medical officers about 25 minutes later.
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 service hall, where a ceremony took place in private.
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 had a close relationship 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 determined soldier who was proud to serve the nation.
An army-wide safety timeout on training has since been called to ensure appropriate measures are in place. A Committee of Inquiry will be convened to look into CFC Liu's death.
The incident last Saturday is the third national service training-related death in 14 months.
CFC Dave Lee died of heat injuries following an 8km fast march in April this year, while Third Sergeant Gavin Chan was killed after the Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle he was guiding out of difficult terrain overturned during an overseas exercise in Australia in September last year.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen offered his deepest condolences to CFC Liu's parents, and hoped that his 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," the minister added.