Today is the big day of a good friend and man, Royston. We knew each other in Army when we were section commander and man. He was my first Law in Alpha Platoon 1, Section 1, and together with Jeremy, the three of us was Group 1 in the section. I remember the times when I was a harsh section commander, being really anal about everything when they were in BMT.
I remember the transition to being a Guardsmen was a trying period for me. Even though they were the ones who were physically and mentally pushed to their limits, I had to readapt to the idea that I stopped being a trainer training recruits. I am now their commander, and believe me, it was a hard time changing from vulgarities spewing, above all trainer to care for soldier and my man is my man section commander.
But I made it in the end, with the assistance of my PS and my fellow section commanders. We changed from being God and man to being commander and man. I recall the nights we spend together in the men’s bunk, eating instant noodles and talking nonsense. And laughing. The sense of bond you have with these guys are something precious that cannot be looked down upon.
I remember talking to Royston on some nights, chatting about his leg injury and how it will hurt during training. Especially when we are outfield. I remember the conversation we had about potentially downgrading, and I can still remember him telling me that he will push on. At that moment I could feel this bond between us. It’s like I can feel he knows I would care for him and help him because I am his section commander. And he will push himself and overcome his pain because he wants to remain with the rest of us.
At that moment, in the middle of NS, we became friends. Most section commanders do not really manage to go into the friends level. Some just do their duty and tour as a section commander, and then leave. But I am happy to have touched a few of their lives and remained as friends.
When I orded, we still kept in touch on MSN, and sometimes we talk on the phone. I remember the times I spoke to my section whilst I was a civilian and they were still soldiers. I remember attending their ORD parade. It all feels just so recent to me. When I orded, we were friends. No longer section commander and man. Even for reservist, when I was Platoon Sergeant, it was not commander and man. We were friends who will take care of each other.
It was especially a touching moment to get invited by your man for his own wedding. It is like a sign of affirmation of a job well done during NS, because he considered me as a friend enough to invite me to his own wedding party. As I sat there in the room, watching whilst he said “I do” to his wife, and her to him, I felt truly happy and proud. Here is my friend and man, getting married and starting his own family. And here I am, watching and looking on as he embarked on his new journey with his wife.
And it all felt worth it. I am still touched, and I cannot describe the happiness I feel inside me. Royston is the first friend I had to get married. He will be 27 this year. He is 3 years older than me. When he was in NS having that talk with me, he was 23. I’m 23 now, going to 24, and now I’m at that age he was in. Maybe one day when I find the person I want to live the rest of my life with, I’ll invite him to my wedding, and there he will be sitting amongst the audience, feeling proud because his friend and buddy is also embarking on a new journey.
To Royston and his wife, a happy marriage.
To National Service, friends, and brothers.