Tekong Kampung Unum

During my NS, I was a recruit in a warrant company. I heard several stories about my company (it was a company which is directly beside the sea) but I did not experienced anything during the first three months of my BMT.

I was posted to SISPEC to undergo training after BMT. SISPEC was still in Tekong during that time and I was posted to a company that is at the far end of SISPEC (Echo/Foxtrot/Golf). Not going to share which company I was at.

Anyway, each bunk/section only had 10 beds instead of the 12 beds in BMTC. I was assigned Bed 6. Imagine you are standing at the entrance of the bunk, there are 5 beds on your left and 5 beds on your right, with Bed 1 nearest to you on your left and Bed 5 furthest away on your left. Similarly, Bed 6 is the bed furthest away on your right. This meant that my bed was right beside the window and right opposite the forest.

First week of training passed and nothing much happened except that we were tekan-ed badly by the instructors. My company was quite well known for the least welfare and the most tekan sessions in SISPEC. It was a common sight to see trainees from other companies all showering and having admin time while we were still being tekan-ed. Our OC (a MWO) was well known for being bo chup about everything as he was about to retire and he had a reputation in the army. When the OC bo chup, this was when the instructors all became devils.

If I recall correctly about the time frame, we had a navigation exercise in week two/three. It all started with a small navigation exercise in the forest right beside SISPEC and my detail (bed 6 to 10 of my section) did very well in that exercise. After which, there was an actual navigation exercise (day and night) where for the first time in our trainee life, instructors were not going to be with us.

On the morning of the actual navigation exercise, the conducting officer did the briefing and just before we commenced the exercise, two details including mine was called up by OC for an additional briefing. He told us that as both our details did well in the training navigation exercise, he would be giving us extra tough checkpoints for this actual exercise. Extra tough checkpoints meant new checkpoints (so that we could not follow the beaten trails/paths leading to old checkpoints) and he would be opening up a previously restricted training area in the north west of Tekong known as Kampung Unum (where the cemeteries were). He also mentioned that training in this part of Tekong was usually avoided as there was a cemetery in that area.

OC also briefed us that after we completed checkpoint 1, we were not supposed to go east to cut across the cemetery to get to checkpoint 2. Checkpoint 2 was actually direct East of Checkpoint 1. However, there was a cemetery in between Checkpoint 1 and 2 and there was a long line of white tape demarcating the boundaries of the cemetery. OC wanted us to make a long detour to the south before heading to Checkpoint 2.

Off we went to Kampung Unum for our first checkpoint whereas the rest of the companies started off with the centre of Tekong for our day navigation exercise. When we arrived near the first checkpoint (or rather, we assumed we arrived), the description of the checkpoint was “50 metres west MGR xxx.xxx”. As we were all slackers except the guy on Bed 7 who was damn siao on and wanted to sign on the army, he volunteered to bash into the forest to the checkpoint while the remaining 4 of us waited at the dirt track.

He went into the forest further and further until it was definitely more than 50 metres and we almost couldn’t see him. This was when we shouted at him that he’s too far out and he should come back. Upon hearing our shouts, he came back rather quickly.

We then checked the map and realised that the actual checkpoint was a little further north. So we proceeded further and this time round, all 5 of us went to find the checkpoint together. We found the checkpoint and shaded the symbol against the yellow checkpoint plate and went back to the dirt track. Upon reaching the dirt track, we realised that we forgot to write the checkpoint numbers down and this was needed. This time round, me and Bed 8 volunteered to head back to the checkpoint while the remaining 3 remained at the dirt track.

Upon reaching the checkpoint, we wrote down the numbers and wanted to leave when we suddenly smelled something very sweet, I couldn’t really describe the smell in words but it was very sweet (not from flowers) and it was a smell that made us wanting to linger around a little longer in that area. Suddenly my friend looked at me and said “did you smell that? we should leave.” and we left and headed back to the dirt track where the rest was waiting for us.

Notice that I typed in bold and underlined “came back rather quickly” above? There’s something to it which Bed 7 told us when we got back to camp at night.

He told us that he didn’t knew he was heading to the checkpoint alone and he thought I was following him. He could hear boots right behind him stepping on the vegetation as he bashed further in and he could also hear breathing behind him. He was also talking to “me” and said “wah today damn shag, still need to do this exercise” etc and other conversations which didn’t require a response. Thus he thought I was all along behind him when in fact, I was at the dirt track with the rest of our detail.

It was when he heard our shoutings that he stopped and turned back. This was when he suddenly smelled something very sweet and wanted to stay in that area a little longer but he could see that we were waving our hands frantically and calling him back. It was also at this moment when he realised that I wasn’t with him and he ran back to the dirt track.

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