I somehow managed to avoid posting anything about Exercise Swift Lion despite the fact that it was the 20th anniversary of that very dark period my life and the life of everyone I served together with. It was a moment in our youth when we had the horrible, heart-break experience of having to watch our friends come home in a body bag. It’s been 20-years since but I still remember what Ronnie’s face looked like in casket – it didn’t look anything like him. He was a good guy who had his whole life ahead of him and he didn’t deserve to have it cut down because some bureaucrat in defense procurement couldn’t be bothered to their checks properly. For me, it was a moment of being sad, scared and pissed off.
I spend 19-years making sure I had something to say about that incident because I felt and I still feel that if Ronnie and Yin Tit had to die, they shouldn’t have died in vain. It’s the feeling of knowing that you’re not much of the scale of things but you try your best to make sure that no other kids have to go through the same thing that you went through.
Well, I somehow let my usual piece lapse. I paid my respects on the online Facebook forum that was set up for our batch but that was all that I did. In one way, it’s probably a good sign that we’ve finally reached the stage where you’re able to let the dead lie where they are and you think that the sadness, pain and fear that you felt on that day has finally subsided.
Then, the news tells you otherwise – I’m now reading about a boy, who was pretty much like Ronnie (last to book out, first to book in, always helpful to colleagues and his men and never having a bad word to say about anyone) being crushed to death when his armoured vehicle turned sideways and ended up crushing him. The story can be read at - http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/parents-nsf-killed-during-exercise-wallaby-son-was-responsible-good-boy
The Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle
When I read about such incidents, my heart sinks a little bit more. You get a little pissed off with whatever divine powers are out there for thinking it’s very funny to knock of the good ones.
Then, there’s a feeling of sadness that someone out there is feeling the same sadness that you once had to experience. In a way, I’m blessed with the fact that the immediate child in my life is a girl, so she won’t have the same army type experience I had (not that girls are easy to deal with) but then again, that’s not true. There was Yooga, son of my ex-girlfriend. I’d be crushed if the little bugger was crushed by an armoured vehicle or blown up in a live firing accident. While I’ve not had these major accidents happen to me directly, having seen it once and having had to live through the aftermath and the grief, I ask myself – why should anyone be forced to live through the grief?
The Happy Part that the Minister gets to See
I don’t know why young boys get killed through accidents like these. Only sign of progress since that day 20-years ago is that there’s greater public participation in reporting these incidents. At least we got to know that the late 3SG Gavin Chan was one of the good guys and knowing that should inspire someone out there to try and do something to ensure such incidents don’t happen. I only wish we could have made it known that Ronnie and Yin Tit were part of the good guys and didn’t deserve to get cut down when they were cut down.