With a flourish, Corporal (NS) Lee Hong Cheng handed over the state flag to his nephew, Private Marcus Chin.
It was a symbolic handover of the duty to safeguard the nation, from one generation to another.
In the first combined parade of its kind, 600 men from 452nd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment, stood down from their Operationally Ready National Service cycle, while 4,200 recruits graduated from their Basic Military Training.
The men stood shoulder to shoulder in the solemn ceremony at the Marina Bay Floating Platform at dawn yesterday.
It was an emotional moment for CPL (NS) Lee as the parade marked the last time his unit would form together. He reveals that he came back from an overseas work attachment just to complete this final cycle with his buddies. Reflecting on the moment he handed over the ceremonial flag, he smiled and said that it brought back memories of his own passing out parade 12 years ago. “(Back then) everyone was tired but we tried our best to encourage one another to push on,” he told The New Paper on Sunday.
Much like the newly-minted soldiers, who had marched 24km from their camp in Pulau Tekong to reach the parade grounds.
But their fatigue was forgotten and their joy was evident as they threw their jockey caps in the air to celebrate the end of their basic military training.
Even the constant rain could not dampen their spirit as the 20,000-strong crowd, which comprised the men’s families and friends, roared their approval.
Says Private Chin: “The first thing I’ll do when I get home is take a shower.”
The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on Sunday on April 13, 2014.