In his father’s shoes

2LT Ngo with his family: (from left) Nicholas, 1WO Ngo and Mdm Soh
2LT Ngo with his family: (from left) Nicholas, 1WO Ngo and Mdm Soh.

For someone who had to be dragged to exercise, 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Raymond Ngo’s decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps to become a soldier took his family by surprise.

When 2LT Ngo told his parents of his decision to sign on as a Regular with the Army during his National Service (NS) in 2010, his mother did a double take.

“To me, he’s very bai bai nen nen (fair and fragile in Mandarin), and I’d always thought he’d end up in an office job, so I was shocked when he signed on as a Regular!” said Madam Soh Geok Kuan.

Father 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Ngo Guan Ann also never thought that his son would be interested in the military. After all, this was the son who needed lots of motivation to run or cycle with him.

An assistant company trainer in the Infantry Training Institute, 1WO Ngo continued: “I had no problems with him signing on because I thought it’d be good for the Army to train him to be a man…so I advised him to aim to be an officer.”

Becoming a soldier

Explaining what drew him to a career in the military, 21-year-old 2LT Ngo said: “When I was in Primary school, my dad used to take our family to his camp during Family Days, which was organised by his division. I remember trying out the High Confidence Obstacle once. It had a flying fox station and I really enjoyed it.”

On what sealed his decision, 2LT Ngo said: “During BMT (Basic Military Training), I realised that I liked the regimentation, and I started to enjoy training and fitness, so I decided to make the Army my career.”

Asked about what it’s like being a career soldier, the platoon commander (PC) in 5th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, responded: “It can be stressful because you have more responsibilities than conscripted soldiers, but it forces you to grow in the process.”

“As a PC, I find it fulfilling to see the 30 men under my charge training together and growing during their two years in NS,” 2LT Ngo said with a smile.

“I’m also looking forward to trying out the different courses that the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) offers, like the airborne…and ranger courses,” he said, after a glance at the tab on his father’s sleeve.

The power of two

So what is it like having a father who is also in the Army?

“Sometimes it’s like having a tutor,” 2LT Ngo replied. “When I was in OCS (Officer Cadet School) learning how to prepare battle orders, draw maps and give instructions, my dad gave me advice when I needed help.”

For Mdm Soh, having two army boys in the family is a boon. “My friends always give positive comments about how it’s good that both father and son are in the Army, and I feel very proud that both of them are serving the country together.”

Looking at her younger son, 16-year-old Nicholas, she said: “When the time comes for Nicholas to be enlisted, I don’t think I’ll be that worried about him.

After all, my husband’s been a soldier for so long, and my elder son is currently happy in his job, so I think Nicholas should adapt just fine.”

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