The day has arrived (though my NS50 vouchers haven’t) – I no longer need to apply for an exit permit.

The letter from MINDEF titled “COMPLETION OF NATIONAL SERVICE” is self explanatory. Because I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to a properly weepy valedictory post on this momentous occasion, I thought I’ll better do a short one here.

Two and a half years of national service was a slog even though I served only as a clerk. Or, officially, an administrative assistant. And only as in “it’s only 30 months” to an 18-year-old. And being PES E may have its perks, but when you are one of the only three NSFs in a active unit (an airforce squadron, no less) of regulars, let’s forget perks and think deep-sea troughs.

What I remember not so clearly at all: traffic directing piles of paper and miles of files and leave applications and docklets, the wonders of getting daily mail and email, printing and zapping and zapping and printing, 5.5-day work week what a scam, the witless WITS (was it called WITS?), collecting and washing ration containers and throwing away tons of soggy tasteless food, getting yelled at by crabby officers at base and at Gombak, dispatch duty (this one was kind of cool actually) in a rickety GP car hauling a green mail bag around, getting to traipse about army camps and naval bases and air bases all over Singapore (ok, this was definitely cool), countless smoke breaks including one when the CO happened to be there too and who was puffing away and told me, “You don’t smoke? Good. Don’t start.”, speaking a whole lot of lousy Mandarin and being indulged by the hokkien peng who took pity on this air-level sotong with a ‘hearing problem’, the numberless loadmasters and navy specialists who passed through, the search & rescue mission for SilkAir MI185 in 1997 (I kept thinking how not apposite our squadron motto was – “Seek and destroy”?), REC -> PTE -> CPL, FDS, S1, BSO, AETI, CC, CAB and ORD LOH!!! Not forgetting kakis and the kindness of Jason, Ah Leow, Ah Poh, Yvonne, Mei, Ferris, Khong and many more. (The ‘many more’ aren’t on my facebook friend list and therefore don’t get mentioned by name. Also, actually, I can’t remember their names anymore.)

Over and out.


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