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Ups lah these peeps - we could all learn a thing or two from their experiences. Photos and screenshot: (Clockwise from top left) NDP 2022 EXCO, Sim Ding En, Lion City Sailors, and Instagram/@KaesonLim

10 NS-Related Stories That Inspired Us In 2022

This year marks the 55th anniversary of National Service (NS), and to celebrate the generations of national servicemen who have served with unwavering dedication, pride and strength to keep Singapore safe and strong, here is a list of remarkable stories involving national service and the defence of our Little Red Dot: from national gymnast Kaeson Lim clinching silverware while serving NS to three female Red Lions making an appearance at this year's National Day Parade, and how serving the nation changed Singapore's Most Sustainable Bartender 2022 Jez Carreon's life.

Click on each image to learn more about their respective moments of excellence - and be driven to level up. #SGBoleh!

As one of the biggest rising stars in Singapore football, 23-year-old Lion City Sailors midfielder Saifullah Akbar managed to pursue sporting excellence while still fulfilling one's NS duties.Photos: Lion City Sailors

Saifullah Akbar | Footballer

Check out our piece: "Singapore Sportstar Spotlight: He's Scoring Life Goals With A Career In Football"

Currently a mainstay with local footballing giant Lion City Sailors, he helped the team to their first Singapore Premier League (SPL) title in 2021. Saifullah's talents on the pitch has led him all over the world, taking him on trials with European clubs such as Metz in France and Tenerife B in Spain. 

Saifullah even enlisted early at the age of 17 (so that it wouldn't adversely affect his playing development), and learnt several important lessons during NS, with one being:

"My time in NS taught me that whatever I do has to be genuine and sincere. Keep pushing during training and control the things you can - like the amount of effort you put in training, your professionalism, your image," says Saifullah.

While fulfilling his NS duties as a Singaporean Son, national gymnast Kaeson Lim helped the team to secure a Bronze medal at the SEA Games in Hanoi in 2021, their first medal in seven years.PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/@KAESONLIM

Kaeson Lim | Gymnast

Check out our piece: "Singapore Sportstar Spotlight: This Gymnast Is Vaulting Over Greater Heights"

Not only was it Kaeson's first time at the SEA Games, he participated while still doing NS, and even went home as a medal-winner.

During his NS, 22-year-old Corporal (NS) Kaeson was a security trooper in the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 607 Squadron in the Immediate Response Force. In an interview with PIONEER, he shared how grateful he was for the amazing support and encouragement he received from his NS mates, as well as gymnastic squad mates, saying that they would help him as much as they could, and give him training tips.

"And because my seniors also went through NS before, they know my struggles and what I was going through," he added. "Because I'm away, there is a lack of manpower and I'm very thankful that they were covering my shift."

(From left) Red Lions 2WO Shirley Ng, 3WO Sandy Wong and 3WO Shirley Wong.Photo: NDP 2022 EXCO

2WO Shirley Ng, 3WO Sandy Wong and 3WO Shirley Wong | Red Lions

This year's National Day Parade was the first full-scale parade since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in another "first", three female Red Lions parachutists made free fall jumps as part of the NDP 2022 celebrations.

First-timers Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Wong and 3WO Sandy Wong made heartland jumps at Bishan and Ghim Moh on 7 Aug, as part of a team of seven parachutists at each site.

Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Shirley Ng, the more seasoned of the bunch (this is her fourth NDP), landed at The Float @ Marina Bay on 9 Aug during the crowd favourite segment, as the ninth of 10 jumpers.

Fort Siloso marked its 80th anniversary this year, and played a pivotal role in the Battle for Singapore.PHOTOS COURTESY OF NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

Fort Siloso

Check out our piece: "Happy Total Defence Day! Fort Siloso Is Now Singapore's 74th National Monument"

The 19th-century Fort Siloso, was gazetted on Total Defence Day (15 Feb) this year as a National Monument. The gazetting of Fort Siloso as a National Monument is interesting because it is the first time that a site with structures has been given this title. The fort, constructed in 1878, has 11 fort structures and gun emplacements, some of which are intact and date back to that era.

SwimRay's founders and coaches Jay Lin (left) and Ray Kua ensure you can not only swim confidently in a pool, but also out in open water. The duo were influenced by their time in the Navy during NS.PHOTOS: SWIMRAY, PEXELS/@KINDEL MEDIA

Jay Lin and Ray Kua | Founders of SwimRay

Check out our piece: "Inspired By NS Stint In The Navy, They Aim To Impart Crucial Swimming Skills To All"

If you ever want to learn how to swim or confidently navigate open waters, then you'll be in good hands if you pick up this essential life skill from this pair of swimming coaches.

Meet 31-year-old Ray Kua, an ex-NDU serviceman who graduated from Sports Science and Management in NTU, and 32-year-old Jay Lin. The pair got acquainted with each other not in the pool but on the court when they were on the basketball team in Jurong Junior College.

Both Ray and Jay fulfilled their NS duties in the Singapore Navy - the former a Frogman in the Naval Diving Unit (NDU), and the latter a combat medic. It was their experience in the Navy that fired their passion to impart crucial survival skills to the community, and to show why swimming isn't just about being able to glide gracefully through the water with perfect form.

LTC Wayne Ho (left), Chairman of the Show Management, oversaw teams up in the Control Room as well as onstage, offstage and understage.PHOTOS: SIM DING EN

LTC Wayne Ho | Commanding Officer, 2SIR

Check out our piece: "His Team Ensures That Everything On The NDP 2022 Stage Happens Right On Cue"

Every NDP, unsung heroes toil for hours behind the scenes contribute to the success of the celebrations. We're talking about the smooth flow of human traffic; the movement of participants and props onto and off the stage; and even the delicate execution of codes by mechanics during the show.

All these need a well-oiled team, and a capable leader to manage them. This year, the Show Management team was led by LTC Wayne Ho, who is also the Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (2SIR). Fun fact: some of his battalion's soldiers were also involved in NDP as performers and flag bearers.

LTC Emerson Ang (left), Chairman of Show Support, and his soldiers from 40SAR were delegated the extremely crucial task of ensuring the NDP 2022 performers were in costume, made up, fed, and led to the Floating Platform at exactly the right time.PHOTOS: SIM DING EN (LTC EMERSON ANG) AND NDP 2022 EXCO

LTC Emerson Ang | Commanding Officer, 40SAR

Check out our piece: "Behind The Scenes, He And His Men Are Support Pillars For NDP 2022 Performers"

Another important team in this year's NDP - Show Support - was led by LTC Emerson, who is also the Commanding Officer, 40th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (40SAR). Together with his team, LTC Emerson embarked on a months-long journey with the NDP performers, and was there for everyone logistically, physically, mentally and emotionally every step of the way, whether they were nervous first-time student participants or seasoned auntie-uncle performers.

Meet 45-year-old Lawrence Koh, who has a long history of flying high as an avid skydiver, ex-Commando, Avionics Systems Engineering degree holder, and ex-Red Lions Parachute Team Leader.PHOTO: IFLY SINGAPORE

Lawrence Koh | Founder and CEO of iFly Singapore

Check out our piece: "Top Gun: Blue Skies Ahead For iFly Singapore Boss And Ex-Red Lions Leader"

Located on Sentosa’s Siloso Beach, iFly Singapore has attained eight Guinness World Records, and trained two Gold medallists in the international indoor skydiving competitive scene.

And the man behind it all: ex-Commando and ex-Red Lions Parachute Team Leader, Lawrence Koh. With the implementation of the iFly Singapore wind tunnel, he managed to change a 40-year-old skydiving syllabus in the SAF and make it part of free-fall training.

Jez Carreon, who earned top spot in the Sustainable Cocktail Challenge says that NS "taught me was to excel in everything I do", and excel he did.PHOTO: SIM DING EN

Jez Carreon | Bartender

Check out our piece: "NS Taught Singapore's Most Sustainable Bartender Some Valuable Life Lessons"

The 30-year-old (whose Filipino parents moved to Singapore when he was four, but have returned to the Philippines) bartends at Employees Only. He won the Sustainable Cocktail Challenge hosted by Flor de Caña (a sustainably crafted ultra-premium rum) with his cocktail, New Life, a combo of Flor de Caña 12 Year Rum, Cascara Sweet Vermouth, red wine reduction, fair trade coffee-infused Bourbon and chocolate bitters.

And here comes the "hormat SAF" part: Jez recounts how his commanders in BMT inspired him to try for command school - he did so by making it to OCS and commissioning as a Platoon Commander. And looking back on his NS stint, Jez affirms that "NS taught me to believe in myself and to do better".


Fitri Mahad | then-NSF

Check out our piece: "Life Lessons From My NS Stint In The Singapore Police Force"

Talk about a real-life "ah boy to man" story: 23-year-old Fitri Mahad (and contributor!) looks back at how his NS stint with the Singapore Police Force taught him some life-changing lessons: "While my experiences are uniquely mine, the lessons are not. If you are about to enter NS or are currently serving, I hope there are some things you can take away from it, regardless of your vocation." Read and be inspired, especially if you're a pre-enlistee!

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