Salute tribute to national servicemen gets thumbs up

Salute tribute to national servicemen gets thumbs up
The NS50 appreciation segment at the National Day Parade 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Salute tribute to national servicemen gets thumbs up

SINGAPORE — With a salute, the audience at Wednesday’s (Aug 9) National Day Parade (NDP) paid tribute to all past and present national servicemen, as the Republic marked 50 years of National Service (NS).

The gesture was praised by many that TODAY spoke to. “I saw much older men around me standing up for the salute too … (it was good) especially so for our Pioneers, who served in different organisations and have largely staffed them since their inception,” said student Tengku Sharil Tengku Abdul Kadir, 20.

For father-of-three Lee Zheng Wei, 45, whose eldest son is slated to enlist in October, it felt good to be recognised. “NS was tough, but I made so many good friends that I still keep in contact with today,” the engineer added.

Having served as a guardsman for the past year, 22-year-old full-time national serviceman, Lance Corporal Bay Cong Sheng, said he is “honoured to serve and protect the country”.

Besides the salute tribute, the parade also featured the Dynamic Defence Display, split into two segments for the first time.

The military display — a crowd favourite that returned after a two-year hiatus — got spectators pulling out their mobile phones to take photos and videos of the land, sea and air performances by the Singapore Armed Forces.

Five F-15SG fighter planes performed aerial manoeuvres over the Marina Bay Floating Platform, followed by a AH-64D Apache helicopter swooping down near the platform, the firing of its cannons simulated by special effects. 

Spectators craned their necks to watch the elite naval divers, who dropped out of the CH-47D Chinook in the waters, swarming the platform looking for “intruders” and “eliminating” their targets.

Other highlights of this first segment included the Bionix and Terrex vehicles, as well as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars).

To make the second segment, which featured mock terrorist attacks, more realistic, the performance was enhanced with action movie-style special effects. 

“Terrorists” stormed the floating platform armed with guns, and began firing at the audience, following a quick emergency broadcast, warning everyone of a possible terrorist attacks on the nation.

Police cars and military tanks moved in and four of the gunmen were taken out successfully.

But the action did not stop there — more gunmen entered, throwing “grenades”. One civilian was “shot dead” by the gunmen and his young son was taken “hostage”. The commandos saved the day, eliminating the gunmen and carrying the boy to safety.

A second terrorist simulation involved a truck driving dangerously in the Central Business District. The vehicle caught fire after being shot at by the police. But the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s Rapid Response Fire Vessel swiftly put out the blaze. 

Student Tammy Tan, 24, said the performance made her more aware of Singapore’s vulnerabilities as a nation. “(Our defence) is something that we can’t take for granted. It’s not a matter of if, but when — you never know when, or where an attack could happen,” she said.