In 1970, a SAF platoon commander died saving 2 men from detonating grenade
Second lieutenant Tay Seow Kai might not be a familiar name to most in Singapore.
But his actions have gone down in history as the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrating the bravery and selflessness of men in the Singapore Armed Forces.
Saved two fellow soldiers
Tay’s story can be found in a 2012 commentary by Samuel Chan written for the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).
The article said that Tay, a 21-year-old platoon commander and trainer at that time, was undergoing a live weapons practice with his men at the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute at Pasir Labar on Aug. 26, 1970.
A 20-year old recruit, Kwok Seong Fan, proceeded to fumble a live grenade.
Tay instinctively snatched the grenade from the trainee’s hands, to shield his recruits from danger.
Tay’s actions resulted in the grenade detonating in his hands, fatally wounding him.
Kwok and another soldier, Corporal Ou Siang Chin, survived with minor injuries, as Tay absorbed the impact of the explosion.
Tay was buried in Chua Chu Kang Cemetery with full military honours on Aug. 28, 1970.
Decades after his death, his story and ultimate sacrifice would resurface on social media, via Facebook user Sim Boon Leng’s post in November 2016.
Resurfaced on social media
Sim’s post has since been republished and gained traction again on Oct. 15, 2019, in another Facebook post by Daily Quote Singapore.
Judging by the 872 shares it received the second time round, it appears Tay’s story has not been made known widely enough as many are reading it for the first time.
Photos attached to the posts also featured an obituary for Tay on the 10th anniversary of his death.
The obituary was published in the Chinese language newspaper, Sin Chew Jit Poh.
On the obituary, a poignant tribute was written for Tay, adapted from the ancient Chinese poem, Passing by Lingdingyang by Wen Tianxiang:
No one has escaped death since time immemorial
Save for one’s heroism which shines through history
Gone, but not forgotten.
Top image adapted via Sim Boon Leng’s Facebook post