Father of NSF who died in Australia: 'To lose a good son, I cannot swallow it'

This article is more than 12 months old

NSF who died during training in Australia will be accorded honours of military funeral

When Third Sergeant (3SG) Chan Hiang Cheng Gavin arrived in Australia for Exercise Wallaby on Sept 2, he sent his parents a text, as he always did when booking into camp.

"We were not worried, because we knew that he was very independent," said his father Desmond Chan, 49, a cargo sales manager.

It was the last message his parents received from him.

Last Friday, Mr Chan learnt that his son, a 21-year-old full-time national serviceman, had been involved in an incident during the annual overseas drill at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland.

3SG Chan had been guiding a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle out of difficult terrain that day, when it landed on its side.

The oldest of four was found unconscious next to the vehicle.

The driver and the other two passengers were unhurt.

He was evacuated via helicopter and transferred to Rockhampton Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 10.36pm, Singapore time.

Mr Chan and his family arrived in Australia the next morning and returned to Singapore with 3SG Chan's body on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at his son's wake yesterday, Mr Chan said he wants to tell the three servicemen in the accident that his family is doing all right.

"I want the three of them to go ahead, think positive, do not feel bad. Life moves on," he said.

Mr Chan said his son was a role model to his younger siblings.

Madam Lim Teck Kheng, 50, 3SG Chan's mother, said: "Gavin had been a very good son of mine, he never gave us any problems, did not demand anything, and just celebrated his 21st birthday.

"We wanted to hold a party and buy him dinner, but he refused. He just wanted a chocolate cake."

3SG Chan was considering going abroad to study after NS.

Mr Chan and his wife thanked the Singapore Armed Forces for arranging for the family to travel to Australia following the incident.

3SG Chan will be accorded the honours of a military funeral, and the cremation will be at Mandai Crematorium on Saturday.

Around 70 people, including 3SG Chan's relatives and friends, attended his wake in Pasir Ris yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, turned up to pay his respects.

Mr Zainal Sapari, Mr Teo's Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC colleague, was present as well.

Asked how the family was coping, Mr Chan said: "To lose a son is a painful feeling. To lose a good son, I cannot swallow it."

Choking up, he added: "(Gavin) was a good son... no words can describe how we are feeling now."

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