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These trailblazing individuals - including CPT Yap Hui Jun (centre right) with Chief of Army Major-General David Neo - are forging the future with the pioneering milestones they've made in Singapore's military history. IMAGES (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT): FACEBOOK/@SINGAPORENAVY, LINKEDIN/@david-neo-791a01a, FACEBOOK/@DEFENCEPIONEERSG, FACEBOOK/@NGENGHEN, AND FACEBOOK/@SINGAPORENAVY

Glass Ceiling, Shattered: Celebrating Women's 'Firsts' In the SAF

In October 2023, CPT Yap Hui Jun left her mark in the history books of the 65-day Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Ranger Course by becoming the first woman to complete the gruelling training programme.

As reported by Mothership, Chief of Army Major-General David Neo even tagged her in a LinkedIn post, commenting: "Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome our first female Ranger in the 50 year history of the SAF Ranger course, CPT YAP Hui Jun! Immensely proud". Ups lah!

To commemorate CPT Yap's outstanding accomplishment, we take a look at other trailblazing women who have forged the future with the pioneering milestones they've made in Singapore's military history:

SLTC Lee Mei Yi

Achievement unlocked: First woman in Singapore to command a fighter squadron

Year: 2022

SLTC Lee Mei Yi is the Commanding Officer (CO) of RSAF's 140 Squadron, leading the men and women who fly and maintain the F-16 jets. If you find her familiar, yep, she was the leader of the squadron that led the “Salute to the Nation” bomb burst at the Marina Bay floating platform during Singapore's 57th National Day Parade in 2022. This year, she was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame on 8 Mar, which was International Women's Day.

CPT (Dr) Chiew Wenqi

Achievement unlocked: First Singaporean woman to undergo the US Navy Diving Medical Officers' Course

Year: 2022

CPT (Dr) Chiew Wenqi joined the SAF in 2015, and is a recipient of the SAF Medicine Scholarship. Currently the formation medical officer in the Naval Diving Unit, the 28-year-old treats illnesses and injuries related to diving such as decompression sickness, which happens when a diver ascends too rapidly to the surface.


COL (Dr) Shalini D/O Arulanandam

Achievement unlocked: First woman officer appointed to head SAF's Military Medicine Institute

Year: 2021

COL (Dr) Shalini is no stranger to "firsts": she was the first woman to receive the SAF scholarship back in 1998. In 2021, she was the first woman to be appointed the commander of the SAF Medical Corps' Military Medicine Institute (MMI), and was described in a Facebook by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen as having "actively contributed to combating the pandemic on the frontlines".

Gan Siow Huang

Achievement unlocked: The SAF's first female brigadier-general

Year: 2015

Starting out as an Air Traffic Controller, Gan Siow Huang - who is currently Minister of State for Education - worked her way through the ranks in the Singapore Armed Forces. Along the way, she became the first female commander of Air Surveillance and Control Group, and was the first female military officer to be sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston where she attained an MBA. She received the rank of Brigadier-General on 1 Jul 2015, making her the SAF's first female general.


2WO Shirley Ng

Achievement unlocked: Singapore’s first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at NDP

Year: 2014

2WO Shirley Ng was supposed to make her debut as the first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at the National Day Parade in 2013. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, the jump was cancelled. She got a second chance at NDP the following year.

COL Jerica Goh

Achievement unlocked: Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) first female CO of a frigate and the first female to receive the rank of Colonel in the RSN

Year: 2013

COL Goh joined the Navy in 1993. In her 30-year career, she has been deployed twice to the Gulf of Aden for counter-piracy operations. In 2013, she became the first female CO of the RSN's Formidable-class frigates, heading RSS Supreme. During her tenure, she has also taken part in the search operations for AirAsia QZ8501.

Khoo Teh Lynn

Achievement unlocked: The Republic of Singapore Airforce's (RSAF's) first female fighter pilot.

Year: 2003

Joining the RSAF in 2000 at the age of 19, Khoo Teh Lynn rose through the ranks, starting off as a wingman before achieving her wings and being posted to 143 Squadron, which operates the F-16C/Ds. She was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014 – the same year she became a mum.

Anastasia Gan

Achievement unlocked: First female Qualified Flying Instructor in the RSAF

Year: 1980

Anastasia Gan soared across two worlds - military and civilian. In 1979, she was part of the pioneer batch of female pilots in the Republic of Singapore Air Force, and served in the force till 2000, before joining Silkair in 2001 and becoming Singapore's first female commercial pilot. While in the force, her enrolment in the Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) course was a pioneering step, as she went on to make history as the first female QFI in the RSAF in 1980.

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