SINGAPORE: Family members, friends and fellow servicemen turned up on Saturday (May 5) to pay their last respects to full-time national serviceman (NSF) Dave Lee, who died after suffering from heat injuries.
Earlier in the day, more than one hundred were at the wake in Jurong East to say their final farewells to the 19-year-old accorded with the honours of a military funeral.
The mood was sombre, with the young soldier’s parents and relatives seen sobbing.
At about 1.25pm, fellow servicemen wearing black armbands loaded the flag-covered coffin on a hearse.
The cortege, carrying black umbrellas and led by sobbing family members, followed the hearse.
The hearse arrived at the Mandai Crematorium more than half an hour later amid a light drizzle. It was accompanied by a military band and hundreds of servicemen who had lined up along the road.
The flag-draped coffin was then carried into the service hall packed with family and friends.
Following a religious rite, Lee's mother, three friends and Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Singapore Guards Major Danny Poh delivered eulogies.
Madam Jasmine Yeo, Dave Lee's mother, said: "I always imagined myself delivering a sound and touching speech on my children's wedding banquet for them to remember me. Never do I know (I will) deliver Dave's in this manner."
She said that the passing of her son has brought forth a "loud and clear message across the nation" in that "outdated traditional ‘tekan’ or punishment sessions (should) be put to an immediate stop".
She also said that all possible measures should be put to counter heatstroke: "Heatstroke kills (and it is) not to be taken lightly."
“If I have to sacrifice my own son to bring this message across, make sure it is one that bring forth solid changes to seemingly perfect training system.”
Mdm Yeo also urged fellow comrades of her son not to be sad but "continue Dave's duty as a soldier and as a son".
"Ensure your own safety during trainings and text your parents regularly to assure them you are doing fine whenever you can," she said.
As a parting note to her son, Mdm Yeo said: "Dave boy, I have collected enough kisses to last me for a lifetime ... You will remain deeply in our hearts and we will reunite in another world.
"I love you, Dave boy my son."
Two schoolmates and a platoon mate of the young solider also delivered eulogies and together, they reminisced a friend who was “the energy of (the) class” , a “hard worker” and a reliable pillar of support.
Following the eulogies, the state flag was given to the family by Chief Guards Officer Colonel Seet Uei Lim.
Three rounds were fired by six soldiers as a gun salute, followed by the bugle sounding the Last Post and a minute of silence was observed. As a final ceremonial farewell, the bugle sounded the Rouse.
The Guardsman from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards died on Monday at Changi General Hospital, almost two weeks after he was hospitalised with “signs of heat injury” upon completing an 8km fast march on the morning of Apr 18. He enlisted for National Service four months ago.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Wednesday that a Committee of Inquiry (COI), chaired by a senior official from the Ministry of Education (MOE), has been convened to investigate the incident. COIs are convened for all training-related deaths.
The police will also conduct investigations independently and a coroner's inquiry may be held depending on the outcome.
In a letter sent to SAF soldiers on Thursday, Army Chief Brigadier-General (BG) Goh Si Hou reassured his men that the army will conduct “thorough investigations” to ascertain the facts behind the death of the youth. “We will ask honest questions of ourselves,” he said.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post: "We grieve together with his family and give our deepest condolences. We pray for their comfort and healing."