This incident happened during my NSdays. It was around 1995 towards the end of the year and I was out of course from Pasir Laba camp and was posted back to my unit as a lobo and assigned to a bunk full of similar people. All out of course and waiting to be downgraded or posted out. My CSM then was a damn siao on regular and looked down on people who OOC(out of course) very much. So much so that he will find means and ways to pass sarcastic remarks at us whenever the opportunity presents itself.
One day, the company is scheduled to conduct a navigation exercise at Rambutan hill and the CSM took this opportunity to group me and another fellow lobo as a team (since I was pes A and that day was the first day that lobo was upgraded to pes b from temp pes c). The thick terrain navigation was divided into 2 phases, day and night. We were required to navigate within a 300m x 300m area uphill and downhill from checkpoint to checkpoint using trees as interim landmarks and checkpoints.
The day navigation passed without any incidents and we proceeded to the night phase. As usual, the CSM took every opportunity to put us (the lobo team) down by commenting it is a “toughening” exercise for us in case we end up going for recourse or some other units which he would not want people in other units to laugh at the standard of the soldiers he sent away. At night, we were given a handset for comms, tiny glow sticks made out of rifle cleaning kit, a compass and L torch. I’m the person in front and so was tasked with the L torch while my lobo buddy holds the compass and the comms. Everything went well, we passed by some teams along the way and after 30mins or so, this is when the strange incident occurred. On the way to a particular checkpoint, my buddy told me to move ahead while he reconfirm some bearings on his compass. When i moved ahead, after approximately 5 secs of so, i heard this ..” ouch ! arrgh ! ouch!” followed by stomping of the feet. I turn back to check what happened and its during this time the bulb on my (fark up) L torch blew and i was plunged into total darkness. Rambutan hill’s tree canopy was particularly thick and at night, it is almost impossible to see your immediate surroundings w/o the help of external lighting.
I thought he stumbled and fall onto a rock and was knock unconscious and shouted/called for his name for quite sometime. Nothing was heard except for the cry of insects in the dead of the night. Finally i saw some lights coming from the corner of my eye and it was another topo team. I related the incident to them and they radioed back to the rover parked some distance away from the hill. Exercise was cut immediately and for the next 2-3 hrs, the whole company was activated to comb the hill in search of the missing soldier. It was only around 1130pm that we received word another unit having their night range managed to recover a soldier near the 300m range and he was in a severe state of shock and fully covered in mud.
He was sent to hospital and eventually admitted to IMH for 2 weeks for observation. We visited him during that time but he was very quiet and withdrawn and was holding on to a buddha/guanyin pendent all the time. Of course, i went through alot of crap after that and the CSM wanted to charge me for (not taking care of my buddy???) but eventually dropped the idea as he realised that i was not a fully trained combat soldier and he might get into trouble by sending me and the other fellow to a navigation exercise meant for active personnel who had already passed out from the BRC course. Lots of interviews with brigade hq and writing incident reports before they finally let me off (with threats of confinement from my CSM). I eventually went for recourse and since then for every navigation exercise, i’m always the designated last man.
He was eventually posted out (downgrade permanent) of the unit and after 1 year or so, some fellow platoon mates told me there are 2 possibilities
1) We could have met with something dirty and he ran/stumbled more than 3km from rambutan hill to 300m range and eventually passed out before being found by another unit.
2) It was staged by him. He did not want to go for recourse and tried to stage an accident which cannot be verified (who will write a supernatural incident report?) to ensure that he will be downgraded permanently for the rest of NS and I was the unfortunate collateral damage.
Me? I have no explanation for this either since i did not come face to face with anything dirty that night ie heard any classic howling/breathing or see any glowing eyes/fangs/floating heads. What I’m pretty sure is that standing alone in the absolute darkness of the forest accompanied by nothing but the sounds of insects is a pretty hair raising experience which I would not want to encounter again. One good thing as a result of that incident is that the rest of the people (platoon sergeants, pcs and my csm) pretty much left me alone until i went for recourse and joined back a year later. they probably thought I’m a supernatural magnet attracting all sorts of dirty things which they would not want to associate with.
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