Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Speech that made us proud

I would want to post this speech and the following reflections up as a reminder and lesson. As my cadets days finally comes to an end, Torrents of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness keeps flowing in my heart. The moments, training, hardships, victories and more importantly, people. Wrong... the BROTHERS whom we shed blood tears and sweat together.

Coming into 59th EOCC, fresh from Infantry training in Service Term, the truth is that the 73 of us didn't know what to expect. We hadn't heard much about Engineers before that; in fact, many of us didn't put Engineers as our first choice. As the course progressed, we grew increasingly confused. I mean, what do Combat Engineers really do?

Often we wondered if we were just infantry , perhaps able to build bigger wire obstacles, clear minefields faster, perform demolition tasks, but ultimately with smaller guns

During AE phase, we thought that we were armour with our tracks, wheels and mobility with more stores, but less firepower.

For awhile some of us CBRE cadets began to think, perhaps we're some kind of non-conventional ops taskforce doing work that no one really knows about.

At our lowest points, though, we felt that all we would ever be doing was support. Supports arms supporting the manoeuvre in their action. No combat. No Fun. And alot of studying.

Even towards the end of the course, after our summary exercises during Crescendo, many of us were still searching. Where was the chiong sua and adrenaline? Where were the defining moments, a bangalore breaching the wire before the charge or the successful capture of objective after a quick flank at dawn? Where were the events that all of us could gather round? At the end of the day, we realised the truth, there were none.

We realised that 5 specialisations that made too many for your typical run-of-the-mill course summex. We realised that the amount of equipment, the types of ops we learnt about, though they were all interesting in their own way, they were just too many, too diverse. But in fact, the traits we pride ourselves on, physical and mental endurance, meticulous planning & creative thinking, and good teamwork, were all built up day by day, week by week; exercise by exercise.

So what 59EOCC found instead was that each of us had our own moments. For some, it was the sense of accomplishment when a 100m wire obstacle was set up properly or when the platoon finally finished a 12am to 6am minefield. It could have been a sect comm deploying a Class 30 after 5 tries in the noon sun to provide mobility for vehicles or it could have been finishing a short track way bridge 4min on our first try to that infantry could cross gaps.

Maybe it was wearing a bomb-suit for the first time, defusing an IED under pressure. Maybe it was completing a 4km MOPP4 route march in the required hour to condition ourselves to chemical warfare. Maybe riding a boat or an M3G, the wind blowing in our faces as we prepared for force projection across water bodies.

For some, defining moments were about finishing a complex operations like protect works for explosives; for others, simple things were enough to make an impact. For some, defining moments were happy moments; for others, they were sad. But we came to realise that even as the course defined us, the cadets of 59 EOCC we defined our own course as well, through all the experiences, big and small, easy and painful, happy and sad, that we had.

So finally we found the answer. This is what Engineers are about - embracing unity in all our colourful diversity and for us, this unity is as simple as the bonds that we built together, the memories we created together, all the time we shared as a wing. Our course didn't happen with a single exercise or a single defining moment; it was built like an engineering task, advancing and overcoming each little obstacle over the 21 weeks till we finally found ourselves here.

I greatly appreciate Hui Mun for this, as he reminded me, it isn't just the defining moments and circumstances that bring the best out of me. But my best defining each moment and circumstance. I stand proud to be his brother, and fellow Engineer.


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