Taking part in NDP a dream come true, says First Sergeant

She is first woman to helm Hunter armoured vehicle at the parade

First Sergeant Kaelynn Hong, 25, has spent every Saturday the past few months rehearsing her part in this year's National Day Parade (NDP).

Even though the sessions, which last from 7am till 9pm, eat into her weekend, she looks forward to spending the extra hours in camp.

"I said 'yes' immediately as taking part in the NDP is a dream that I've had since I was young," she said.

1SG Hong, who is with the 40th Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment, will be in command of a Hunter armoured fighting vehicle - the first time it will feature during the Total Defence Display segment of the NDP and also the first time the vehicle will be helmed by a woman during the parade.

She said: "I'm nervous, as being the first female vehicle commander (of the Hunter) is a big responsibility."

The display is returning after five years. The parade is being ramped up to full capacity, featuring ticketed shows open to the public.

Scaled-down versions, with invited guests, were held in the past two years because of the pandemic.

The Hunter is one of at least 50 different assets in the display, which was put together by the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team and will involve more than 500 participants.

During this segment, the Republic of Singapore Air Force will also debut its CH-47F heavy-lift helicopter alongside the Singapore Civil Defence Force's pumper firefighting machine and the Singapore Police Force's next-generation fast response car, the latter two having previously made their appearance in the mobile columns of past parades.

Driving the police fast response car is Sergeant Jasmine Poh, 25, a first-year police officer, who is also taking part in the NDP for the first time. "It's an honour to be driving (the car) during the display and parade," she said.

She said her colleagues were supportive of her decision to take part, helping to cover her shifts when she was rehearsing for the parade.

Cleaning up a simulated chemical spill while controlling an unmanned firefighting machine remotely will be SCDF firefighter Sergeant (3) Muhammad Syahkir Shahar.

"Most people think we only put out fires, but cleaning up hazardous materials is also an important part of the civil defence pillar (of Total Defence)," he said.

The 25-year-old added that as the father of a newborn son, he cherishes the opportunity to be part of the parade even more.

"With what is going on outside Singapore now, I can see how important it is to maintain safety and security. When my son gets older, I'll be able to tell him about the part that I played at the NDP," he said.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2022, with the headline Taking part in NDP a dream come true, says First Sergeant. Subscribe