Their arrival was heralded by the telltale roar of high-tech machinery which only rose in volume as the 171 vehicles of the mobile column rolled past the Padang yesterday.
The military drive-past was making its return to the National Day Parade (NDP) for the first time since 2015, and comprised vehicles from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team.
Altogether, 79 types of equipment featured in the display.
It was the first appearance at the NDP for the Singapore Army's Hunter armoured fighting vehicle, the Republic's first fully digital military vehicle. The Hunter was commissioned in June and will progressively replace the army's fleet of Ultra M113 armoured fighting vehicles, which have been in service since the 1970s.
Also making their debut were the Republic of Singapore Air Force's surface-to-air Aster-30 missile system and the army's new recovery truck, the WRV or wheeled recovery vehicle.
With this year being the 50th anniversary of the mobile column, it was also fitting that Merdeka Generation servicemen were part of yesterday's display.
Among the Merdeka Generation participants were old friends Raymond Tan, 68, and Jeffie Koh, 60, who served together as officer commanding and driver respectively, in an armoured company in 1977.
"Jeffie was my driver and runner but we could talk about anything. We treated each other as brothers," said Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Tan.
Number of Red Lions in the air.
More than 60 of the mobile column vehicles will be out and about again today. They will gather at the F1 Pit Building before fanning out on four different routes to five heartland areas across Singapore.
The vehicles will reach the five destination points - near Junction 8 in Bishan; Wisma Geylang Serai; Jurong East, near Westgate; Punggol, near Waterway Point; and Woodlands, near Causeway Point - by about 6.40pm today.
SEEN AND HEARD
MR WILLIAM WEE, 81, RETIRED
"I joined the Navy under the British in 1956 as a volunteer and served until 2002. Having a strong SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) acts as a deterrent, and I wish for Singapore to stay safe, sound and secure for many more years."
MRS ANNA RAMESH, 54, EARLY CHILDHOOD CARER
"I was very excited to see the Merdeka Generation in the mobile column this year, and I think we should all respect and pay tribute to them."
ANNAT SHOAIB, 10, PUPIL
"This is the first time my mother and I are here, so we thought we'd make a special NDP headband. I look forward to the dancing segments because I love dancing. My wish for Singapore is for its people to be united as one."
MADAM HEW POH LING, 40, HOUSEWIFE, AND LYDIA, 3
"Perseverance and resilience are values our previous generation taught us, and values I hope the next generation will continue to have. I also hope they do not take things for granted because Singapore was built on hard work."