4 months of gruelling training and conditioning that culminates at the Marina Floating Platform.
The signalling of the end of one journey, and the beginning of another.
Every recruit goes through this moment, and rejoices.
Passing Out Parade.
It all begins with the entry into BMT, during which time a recruit is put through his paces.
He trains with his comrades, learning skills that will give him the basics of military life.
He learns to shoot, cope with mental and physical stresses, lead men.
After which he is sent on the final leg of his journey that begins with a 24km march.
But here is the story of the 24km march, and my POP.
It starts with us setting off from the start point, at Changi Beach Park, at 6:30pm.
The first 4km was not a problem. The sun was setting and the sea breeze was blowing. Morale was high and we were singing songs about our sergeants, chatting and joking about.
But after that, things got bad...
At the 8km mark, my feet were raw from walking. Each step I took hurt. And to add to that, my left knee started giving me problems as well... It was sheer agony to walk. My breathing was laboured, and sweat fell down my brow in huge droplets. I was screming every few steps I took, just to distract myself from the pain. It was worse when I had to pretend that everything was alright in front of my officers, lest they pull me out from the march and prevent me from taking part in the parade.
There were only a few things on my mind through out the arduous march. The unbearable pain, my family and Yoshi. The pain was hard to ignore, prompting me to fall out all the time. But thinking of my family, of Yoshi, kept me going. I was not doing this march for myself. I was doing it for them. I was not serving NS for myself, I was doing it for them. To do them proud, to let them be proud of me, that's what went through my mind and kept me going.
I pushed on despite the pain, and eventually, I was rewarded.
We arrived at the endpoint, at the F1 Paddock at 3.00am, after marching 9 hours through East Coast Park.
I threw off my field pack, my helmet and combat vest. Collapsed on the ground and wept.
I made it. I survived the march and pushed myself beyond my limits. A huge sense of pride surged through me, along with relief and ecstacy. I did it!
After a precious few hours of sleep, we made our way to the Floating Platform, and the end was about to begin. The Parade started promptly at 8.00am, and we, the men of Scorpion Company, marched proudly out on to the parade ground led by our Officer Commanding and Company Sergeant Major.
As we marched out the city skyline came into view. And suddenly I knew why I was servng NS. I new why I had to. I had always known, but now it struck me deeper. The parade was over in less than an hour, and at the end we tossed our jockey caps into the sky. We were officialy trained soldiers.
Ecstatic, and tired. That's what most of us were. We went through 4 months of tough training. It didn't go to waste. To be on the parade ground that day made the 4 months of hell all worthwhile.
Passing Out Parade at Marina Floating Platform.
Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum in the backdrop.
Me and a few platoon mates, along with my OC.
The men of Scorpion Company, Platoon 2, Section 1.
(Photo taken during our field camp)