Wednesday 3 July 2013

NS officer gets SAF Medal for Distinguished Act for exceptional courage at SAF Day Parade 2013

He pulled recruit, who froze during training, away from exploding grenade
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 2 Jul 2013

A SOLDIER recruit pulled out the grenade's safety pin but accidentally released its lever. In six seconds, the bomb would explode. Alas, he froze, the explosive nestled in his palm.

Second-Lieutenant Kamalasivam Shanmuganathan, 25, who was beside the recruit, told him calmly to get rid of the grenade.

"Throw. You have to throw," were the words he remembered saying. "If I used more words, I'd have just confused myself, as well as the man. I had to remain calm," he recalled yesterday.

It worked. The grenade was tossed, detonating in mid-air, as he dragged the rookie to the ground, taking cover behind a safety barrier. He sustained a shoulder injury while the recruit hurt a finger.

For his bravery, the officer yesterday received from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen the Singapore Armed Forces Medal for Distinguished Act, which recognises individuals who show exceptional courage over regard for their personal safety.

He is only the eighth man to have received the medal, and the second NSF after 2nd Lt Kok Khew Fai in 2008, who had shielded a recruit also during a hand-grenade exercise.

The award, given out during the 3,000-strong annual SAF Day parade yesterday evening, where President Tony Tan Keng Yam was the guest of honour, is one of the highest state honours, and also puts 2nd Lt Kamalasivam in the ranks of officers who have been deployed to conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

"2nd Lt Kamalasivam has demonstrated true bravery and courage to protect his recruit and his quick action averted more serious injury to the recruit," SAF Basic Military Training Centre commander Simon Lim said at the time of the incident.

The award was the highlight of SAF Day, which also saw Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailing the soldiers, saying in a Facebook post that they give "our people reassurance, confidence and help when most needed, such as during the recent haze."

Cabinet ministers led rededication ceremonies across the country, as NSmen reaffirmed their commitment to defend Singapore.

2nd Lt Kamalasivam's two-year NS commitment ends in a fortnight. "It's a proud moment. I think it's the nicest way to end NS by getting this award," said the Ngee Ann Polytechnic diploma holder, who added that he wants to be a teacher.

The son of two parking attendants said his friends had asked him to consider signing on. "They said jokingly that I'd straightaway become a Lieutenant-Colonel."

Servicemen don uniforms to enjoy perks on SAF Day 2013
By Jermyn Chow And Debbie Lee, The Straits Times, 2 Jul 2013

ON MOST days, intern Lim Yan Pin, 24, shows up for work in fitted shirts and formal pants.

Yesterday, however, the operationally ready national serviceman cast off his office wear - and turned up in the No. 3 army uniform of olive green trousers and a short-sleeved shirt.

He was one of thousands of national servicemen marking Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day.

Mr Lim, who completed his NS three years ago, said: "I may have just been a corporal doing administrative work but I've always been very proud being in uniform."

Mr Lim took his mother Tan Lay Cheng and sister Yan Sin to the Orchard Cafe in Orchard Hotel, which was offering buffet lunch at 30 per cent off for uniformed personnel.

Across the island, thousands of other servicemen showed up in their military attire at shops, restaurants and cinemas yesterday to enjoy discounts and freebies.

Twenty-one retail, entertainment and food and beverage brands were offering perks to all military personnel - including regulars, full-time national servicemen and NSmen - as part of a first-ever campaign to pay tribute to SAF personnel. The 800,000 servicemen simply had to wear their uniforms or produce a military identity card to enjoy the benefits that range from discounted movie tickets to meals and petrol.

Housewife Wendy Chin got a discount on the Orchard Cafe buffet thanks to her 19-year-old son Thaddaeus Tan, whose NS stint was disrupted due to his medicine degree. She said the promotion was "a good start" as it encourages people to take pride in those who serve the nation. "Beyond just recognition, hopefully other people will also respect and welcome our uniformed personnel."

Most NSFs got time off to enjoy the perks offered in the appreciation drive. The Defence Ministry sent a circular to all SAF unit commanders, encouraging them to grant all "non-essential personnel" a half-day off yesterday.

Many were seen at Jurong Point, in the vicinity of three military camps. One of the participating restaurants, Fish & Co, had to open its outdoor sitting area to accommodate the large crowd of soldiers. Next door at the Golden Village cineplex, business was equally brisk with servicemen making up 60 per cent of moviegoers - up from 20 per cent, said manager Michelle Matanguihan, 26.

While all personnel who spoke to The Straits Times were happy with the benefits, some hope for more long-term recognition. "It would be good if our efforts could be recognised continuously, instead of just on SAF day," said regular Captain Sandy Lim, 33.


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