The Commandos have done it again for the 29th time.
For the 12th consecutive year, the SAF Commandos walked away with the Best Combat Unit award.
I was fortunate to be part of the Commandos family, having served the 2nd Company from 2003 to 2005 . Here's 29 things you don't know about the Commandos fraternity.
1. We are the stirrer of each other's shit
For many moons and without fail, the senior batch will always look down on the juniors, calling the recruits great pretenders who can't take hardships, and only worthy of pink berets. But to most of us, this is actually a form of motivation - commando style.
2. But we defend our own outside of Hendon Camp
It's a different story altogether when we go out of Hendon. As much as we like to stir each other, we look after our own outside, especially in other units.
3. The rivalry with Guards is kinda real
I once watched a inter-unit football match at Bedok Camp (3rd Guards) in the ultra attention-seeking white Commando t-shirt.
Needless to say, we got plenty of stares and Guardsmen singing: "We don't need no Commandos hanging around." That's fine. Because 29 times. And sandbags.
4. You need to be fit but mental strength is valued.
I was part of the Physical Training Phase (PTP) batch and couldn't do a pull-up to save my life. But that didn't stop any one of us zero fighters to give up. And physical fitness is not the most important thing out in the field and marching 72km - your mental fortitude is.
5. There's something called the 5km and 10km Standard Obstacle Course (SOC)
As the name suggests, we used to run a good 5km before clearing the SOC. For those going to the Leaders' Course, be prepared to do the 10km SOC progressively - which means 7km, 8km, 9km before hitting the real thing - plus a 1.5km coastal swim in Full Battle Order and dummy rifle. One after effect of the long distance SOC: the body will emit steam. Really.
6. The headdress maketh the man
One look at someone's headdress and you will know which stage of the Commando journey he's at. March 35km for a jungle hat and 72km for a you know what.
7. 72km route march is daunting, made worse by walking up and down East Coast Park four times.
The 72km route march signifies the last hurdle before getting the red beret. Morale is usually high because what's 72km (and around 21 hours of pain) when you've been through a year of Commando training? For my batch, the march required some serious mental fortitude for we had to march up and down the stretch of East Coast Park four times. Even the hottest girl looked bland after awhile. And that's not including the most torturous stretch of Changi coastal road where we only had the Changi Airport control tower to ogle at.
8. It always rains in the Parachute Training Wing
There's a saying that "it always rains in the Parachute Training Wing" and it's true. We were usually drenched to the skin in our sweat doing physical training, airborne drills and rolling all over the ground.
9. We must sit like a lady during airborne course
In Parachute Training Wing, there's no chance of manspreading. This is to make sure that we keep our legs locked tight when we break our fall.
10. We love to jump out of things that are working perfectly fine.
11. Aim for the grass. Not the tarmac.
First rule after jumping out of the plane: Survive.
Second rule after jumping out of the plane: Aim for the grass, skip the tarmac. Commandos usually jump at airbases so landing on the hard tarmac is a possibility.
12. The Commandos reality TV on Channel News Asia doesn't do the unit justice
For one, it's heavily sanitised. Second, the journey to the red beret takes up an entire year. It just doesn't make good TV unlike the Naval Divers, who have the adrenaline and chaos condense into the hell week. We have no hell week. But we have one hell of a year.
13. COMMANDO = Carry On Many Missions And No Day Off
Acronyms happen when Commandos do guard duty because besides having turnouts, we are usually bored out of our minds. True to our Singaporean roots, Commandos past and present up managed to come up with acronyms like COMMANDO and PRIDE - People Rest I Do Extra.
14.We really like the Red Tea Longan
Speaking of guard duty, no duty was ever completed without the Red Tea Longan (only from Mei Lin) and Nasi Lemak (from Mizzy's Corner or International) or Chicken Chop noodles supper meal from the nearby Changi Village Hawker Centre.
Even after ORD, just the taste of Red Tea Longan will transport us back to the days in Hendon Camp.
15. We train just for one thing: ATEC (Army Training Evaluation Centre)
We were built to do one thing and one thing only: Ace the ATEC. So that we can earn bragging rights for being the best combat unit again and again. And again. The pre-ATEC training was actually tougher than the actual ATEC. I guess that's a bit like the secondary school's prelim papers.
16. We are badge crazy
We love our airborne wing and we also really like these foreign airborne badges:
17. There's a difference between a Commando's airborne badge and a normal one
The crimson velvet backing represents our ability to execute jumps with full combat equipment.
18. We hate to lose
That's why we will never get tired of winning the Best Combat Unit. Because winning it comes with obvious perks.
19. We were barred once from the competition for cheating
It was reported in 2003 that the battalion was kicked out of the competition because of cheating involving record-keeping and fitness scores.
Imagine the battalion's collective disappointment and the will to win it back the next year, which we duly did.
20. Going to other camps was an ego booster
For once in our lives, we found out how it felt to be a hot babe because everyone would do a double take whenever we walked past them. Not sure about the situation now but I guess it's more likely the same case.
21. We are really good at going down on one knee
Nothing to do out in the field? High kneel. Waiting for your buddy? Take a knee. After two and a half years, your knee cap is either tough like steel or you really need physiotherapy.
22. We train how to leopard crawl by... crawling
Crawling was quite the norm back in the days. A trainer once told us: "You excuse RMJ (Running, marching, jumping)? But not RMJC (crawling) right?"
23. No, we don't go out to the field looking like this
That's just suicidal.
24. One company had a really hardcore motto
5th Company's motto was Lucifer's Friend but changed to Strike to Silence in 1986. #SoHardcore.
25. There were other options other than "For Honour and Glory"
Before "For Honour and Glory" was confirmed, several mottos were bandied around such as "Fighting Soldiers from the Sky" and "Death from Above", which sounded like a heavy metal song title.
26. I cannot emphasise how much we love our mottos
"Do it once, do it good." "The world is our drop zone." "One for Commando!" "A special breed of men. A cut above the rest." The list goes on.
27. Hendon is the home outside of home
For two and a half years, we toiled and crawled in Hendon Camp to earn our red beret. The only time we were out of the camp was for our vocational training, Tekong oufield or live firing.
28. The brotherhood is real
And because we started and ended off in the same company, we become the best buds for life. Even though we might be from different batches, we will reorg in an active Facebook group where we stir more shit and even crowdsource for funds for another red beret in need.
After all, four of us used to bathe in one cubicle together during BMT days. #TrueStory
Other than jungle training, Commandos are also trained in fighting in built up areas (FIBUA).
Bonus: Because one more for Commando!
30. There's only one universal blood type
No A, AB or O blood type for Commandos. For someone once said: "You cut all of us and we know that the blood that flows would shout Honour and Glory."
For Honour and Glory!
Top photo from commandos.sg