Hundreds of friends, family and fellow servicemen paid their last respects to Third Sergeant Gavin Chan Hiang Cheng, who was accorded the honours of a military funeral yesterday.
The grey sky reflected the sombre mood as the cortege left his Pasir Ris home at about 10.15am. At the Mandai Crematorium, where 300 servicemen lined the driveway to receive him, there was a short downpour, which stopped before the hearse drove in.
The 21-year-old had died during overseas drill Exercise Wallaby in Australia on Sept 15. Yesterday, his fellow 3SGs from the armour formation carried his coffin.
His parents, who were composed when they arrived at Mandai, broke down as the hearse approached, before regaining their composure when the flag-draped coffin was carried past them by the eight pallbearers in their formal No. 1 uniform.
The service hall was packed for the final farewells, where eulogies were delivered before the state flag was handed over to the family. Six soldiers fired three volleys as a salute, and a minute of silence was observed as the bugler sounded the Last Post.
3SG Chan, the oldest of four siblings, was guiding a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle out of difficult terrain on Sept 15 when it landed on its side. He was found unconscious next to the vehicle and transferred to a hospital as resuscitation efforts continued. He was later pronounced dead.
His family returned to Singapore with his body on Tuesday.
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.
CAPTAIN BENEDICT CAI, on the kind of soldier 3SG Gavin Chan was.
3SG Chan's father, cargo sales manager Desmond Chan, 49, told reporters at his son's wake on Wednesday that he wanted his son's platoon mates to think positive.
Yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen wrote on Facebook: "The SAF mourns the loss of this precious son and extends our deepest condolences to the bereaved family."
In a Singapore Army post yesterday, 3SG Chan was described as professional, disciplined, and someone who led by example.
His officer, commanding Captain Benedict Cai, said: "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."
Fellow school- and course-mate 3SG Chong Jun Wei said 3SG Chan was "a good soldier and friend".
Yesterday, 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."
Friends, family bid farewell. http://str.sg/4jHg