Tanks for the memories
Retired colonel reminisces about his first mobile column in 1969
After 46 years, he is doing it again.
Dressed in his old, green coverall, Colonel (Retired) Goh Lye Choon stepped into the Leopard 2SG Main Battle Tank which he will be riding as part of the mobile column in this year's National Day Parade.
Col Goh was a pioneering member of the first mobile column in 1969.
For the 74-year-old, it is a privilege to be invited back to serve in this year's parade.
He said: "I am very delighted to be back to serve alongside the younger generations."
Col Goh recalled the 1969 mobile column to be an important occasion as it celebrated 150 years of modern Singapore, since its founding back in 1819.
Together with 35 other Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel, they had to put up the entire mobile column by themselves - from painting the tanks with a coat of Temasek Green to turning a sports complex into a temporary training ground.
But all the hard work paid off.
"And so, we rolled on, for the first time, from St Andrew's Road to the Padang," he said, adding that it was a significant moment for him.
"Everyone stood up and clapped for us. They were all cheering loudly.
"There was a sense of heartfelt happiness for me. I felt very proud.
"It was the first time the people were seeing the display of tanks. For us, we felt we needed to show the people that we were capable of protecting them."
This year, Col Goh is returning for an equally momentous occasion: the nation's golden jubilee.
Looking at the tanks which will be displayed at this year's parade, Col Goh feels that the country has come a long way since its independence.
Compared with the 18 tanks featured in 1969, this year's mobile column will see a total of 177 assets from SAF, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
Chairman of the Mobile Column Committee, Major Cai Dexian, said the 2-km-long convoy will include the most advanced, significant and exciting assets, to put up a special show for SG50.
In addition, 26 new assets, including the Armoured Engineer Vehicle and Protected Response Vehicle, will be seen in this year's parade.
Major Cai hopes this year's mobile column will illustrate the theme of strength. He said: "(It) will tell the story of the growth of Singapore's defence and security forces to become the strong, respected and capable forces that they are today.
"This strength is inherent not only in the equipment and vehicles but also in its people."
One of the key features in this year's mobile column is the stories of the men and women behind the vehicles.
The four-segment mobile column will also pay tribute to the contributions of our pioneers who have built up Singapore's defence and security forces.
Col Goh, who retired in 1993, said he will share his experience and expertise with the younger generations who now have the responsibility of safeguarding the country.
He hopes that with his participation in this year's mobile column, he will relive his memories of the parade 46 years ago.
He said: "As part of the mobile column, we need to learn the spirit of defence. We need to let the people know that they are safe in our hands."