Veteran officer who inspired son to sign on among 778 Mindef, SAF personnel promoted

Senior Warrant Officer Omar Osman said his proudest moment was when his son decided to follow in his footsteps. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE- Senior Warrant Officer Omar Osman is in his 26th year of being a regular with the army and during his long career, he has had several memorable experiences, including organising the recent Army Open House in May.

But ask SWO Omar, 47, for his proudest moment and his answer is swift - witnessing his son, Lieutenant Muhammad Zayan Omar signing on to be a regular with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and being commissioned as an officer.

On Thursday (June 30), SWO Omar, who was previously a Master Warrant Officer, was among 778 personnel from the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the SAF who rose in rank in this year's promotion exercise.

Topping the list was Chief of Army David Neo, who was promoted from Brigadier-General to the rank of Major-General. In addition, seven colonels were promoted to the ranks of Brigadier-General and Rear-Admiral (One-Star).

SWO Omar, who is a sergeant major with the army's 9th Singapore Division, said: "The proudest moment to me is when my son decided to make the army his career and follow in my footsteps.

"I have always allowed him to pursue his own interests. When he was growing up, I would always make it a point to take my family along to army events or ceremonies I was involved in. I also made it a point to introduce them to my team members and my working environment. So his interest was piqued when he was young and he knew that the army was a good place for a profession."

Lt Zayan, 23, a project officer with the 3rd Singapore Division, received the SAF Academic Award and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy at Nanyang Technological University.

He said: "My father has been a great inspiration to me. I have vivid memories of him in the old No. 4 uniform and recall the times he took us to army events, open houses and functions when I was young. This sparked my interest and motivated me to follow in his footsteps to serve in the army and defend our nation."

SWO Omar was among the officers who received a certificate for their promotion from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at a ceremony held at the Mindef headquarters in Bukit Gombak on Thursday.

All promotions will take effect from July 1.

Lieutenant-Colonel Magdalene Lee Li Ling, 36, a medical officer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), was also promoted.

Dr Lee, who was previously a Major, and her team at the Singapore Aeromedical Centre helped the RSAF adopt telemedicine at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RSAF adopted telemedicine with LTC Magdalene Lee's help, granting overseas personnel remote access to a doctor. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

This meant that personnel who were deployed overseas had remote access to a doctor. The adoption of telemedicine led the team to win the Mindef Dare to Do Award -which recognises individuals or teams that were able to identify new opportunities to do things better - last June.

Dr Lee said: "Being able to implement telemedicine in the RSAF was one of the biggest things that my team was able to do in the past year. We did face challenges which included having to assure doctors that what we were doing did not compromise patient safety."

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad Helmi Khaswan, who earned a promotion to Colonel, gained experience in the use of digital technology from his secondment to the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) from April 2020 to March 2022.

The 38-year-old, who was deputy director of the industry division and strategic planning division at MCI, said: "There were so many things I learnt from MCI that can easily be translated back to my work with the army and I am very fortunate for the experience.

"There are things that I could do to enhance the experience of soldiers while embracing digital technology. This can include how we run operations, for example, improving the booking-in and out procedure."

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