Hello and welcome back!
As mentioned in the previous post, most of my takeaway from the army is “experience”. Experiences that I can never encounter as a civilian. To be honest, though the experience of going through it was depressing, but the experience of having the chance to do it is memorable and quite fun. Today I am going to share my experiences with the vehicles that I got to ride on while I was in the army.
Almost every Tekong boy first ride. Being enlisted in the year 2000, I was the lucky first few batches to be able to ride a proper ferry to Pulau Tekong. Just a few years before me, one would have to ride an RPL to travel to Pulau Tekong. You can google, Tekong RPL. Lucky me, the fastcraft is exactly like one you would ride to Batam. It is even managed by the same companies.
I still remember that depressing view and feeling on my first ride to Pulau Tekong. When I was in SISPEC, my platoon sergeant told us that we have to leave camp earlier to book out as we had to travel to the ferry terminal. He told us to not be late as he would want to book out also. The ferries depart once every hour, so he said that if we miss it, “1 minute late is 1 hour late.”
Our first truck was a 3 tonner. It somehow can fit 30 soldiers squeezed to the brim. If you get to sit on the seats, it was comfortable enough. Sit on the floor and be ready to have your spine bent from the bumps on the mud tracks. But a soldier can always sleep in it no matter how bumpy the ride is.
The 3 tonner was then phased out to make way for a bigger 5 tonner truck. Lucky 3rd generation army. There's aircon in the driver compartment and there are sponges on the seats together with seatbelts. You can google the images of these trucks. Anyway they are a common sight on our roads.
When I was in Taiwan, I also got the chance to ride a slightly smaller 2.5 tonner.
These small things are the most common mode of transport other than the tonners. We rode them here and there especially when we need to do our administrative matters and to transport small number of personnels.
It can only travel at a maximum of 50km/h though. Imagine how long it took when I rode it from Pasir Laba camp to Bedok Camp along the PIE.
I was “lucky” to be posted to a Guards unit. When I got posted there and was briefed about Guads operations, I was told that a Guards unit can be a seaborne unit or a heliborne unit. (The Guards Creed mentions, “Land warriors from air and sea.”) The unit that I was posted to was a heliborne unit. The next batch would be a seaborne unit. I was happy. Personally I would rather be flying than riding boats because I think riding helicopters would be a rarer experience.
I first rode a super puma in SISPEC. It was just once. When I was in Guards, I rode it numerous times that I cannot remember how many. Though it was fun, it was squeezy. I didn't like the sound of the rotors as they sound mechanical like a “wheeeeeeeee wheeeeeeee” sound.
The flights in Singapore would at most take 5 minutes per flight. There was once when I was in Australia and we boarded a super puma for a mission, the flight took 1 hour and 10 minutes. We thought it would be about 5 minutes just like in Singapore. Remember it was squeezy. We slept, woke up, slept, woke up and we were still flying. Ok it was fun. It would be more fun if it's in the day and we can see the surroundings but most flights were at night. Anyway, imagine 1 hour 10 minutes on a helicopter. How long would it take to drive back? Yup. We took a tonner back to base and it was a 4 hours journey.
The chinook was fun. Not squeezy and we faced each other like riding an MRT train. Very noisy though.
Now this is the helicopter that I have always wanted to ride. I managed to ride it just once in my life. It was for a heli rapelling training. The pilot lifted off and went on a short 5 minutes flight before we rapelled down.
Why I like this one? It sounds like a helicopter. It has the chopper sound like those you see from vietnam war movies. It is also less bulky so you can feel the thrill of it turning, banking and being blown in the wind.
I really love riding these helicopters. I really wish I can do it again.
LAND WARRIORS FROM AIR AND SEA
Though my unit was a heliborne unit, we still got the chance to try an amphibious assault, ie. a seaborne mission. We did this just once but it was really a fun experience.
The whole lot of us boarded this huge navy ship. I cannot remember its name. It is either the RSS Endurance or RSS Endeavour. You can try googling them. We sailed from Changi Naval Base to Pulau Sudong.
We were in the belly of the ship all the time so we could not see the view outside the ship during the journey. We mostly slept or chatted. The ride took a few hours, I cannot remember exactly. Maybe about 6 hours.
Inside this ship, there were smaller fast crafts. It was cool. When we were told that the time has come for our assault, we boarded these small fast crafts that were in the ship. The rear part of the bigger ship then opened up and sea water gushes in. It was really really cool. Once the door was fully opened and there was enough seawater to float the fast crafts, the crafts then zoomed out from the rear of the ship bringing us to Pulau Sudong from the middle of the sea. It was very exciting. It was like a “Saving Private Ryan” moment or a D-Day Normandy landing moment.
The fast craft then reach the beaches of Pulau Sudong and the soldiers storm out to charge at the enemy. Super cool...
After the assault, we were supposed to be airlifted out from the island via a helicopter. It was a combined mission with the US Marines and we were supposed to ride a US helicopter. But somehow on that day, the helicopter was grounded when it was my platoon's turn to board it. So we had to board a Super Puma. I cannot remember the model of the US helicopter though. I can only remember that it looks very similar to a Super Puma and was blue in colour.
LIGHT STRIKE VEHICLE
The LSV is unique to the Guards Unit. Unfortunately it was only used by the Support company. For the infantry like us, we didn't get to ride it.
BUT, I managed to ride it just once. It was once in Australia when me and some of my mates got lost in the jungle when we were retrieving our field packs after an assault. We couldn't find our way back. The surroundings looked the same. Our compasses spun around and we were stranded for a good 6 hours. A rescue team on LSVs finally found us and brought us back to the rest of the unit. I will share more details of this experience in another post. Hopefully I will remember.
So yes. Those are the vehicles that I got the chance to ride. There is one more which is a boat. Like a motorboat. I didn't really ride it. Remember my post during GCC? Where we had to do a coastal swim? Yes, in the middle of the Serangoon Harbour, some of my men were struggling to catch up with the rest. It wasn't because they were weak swimmers but the currents were really no joke. The ships kept on passing by us and with every passing, the currents would push us away. So I had to stay with the straddlers and kept pushing them. This was until we were too far behind from the main group that the safety boat had to travel to us. We didn't board the boat. We held on the side of it as the boat zoomed forward and brought us to join the main group. Haha. That was fun too.
Ok that's it for this post. I sound happier than the previous posts because I really had fond memories riding the helicopters and the fast crafts.
Do look forward for the next post next week.
NEXT WEEK : EXERCISE SEMANGAT BERSATU
Categories : The Army Series.
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