Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bravo Company

"Warrant Fernandez?" I approached him as he climbed out from the side of the pool.

A familiar face. I was by the pool side under the mid-day sun at my camp attending to some other business when I spotted him.

"Sir, I was from one of your SISPEC batches" I said, my face beaming as I stuck my hand out to shake his as if meeting a long lost friend.

SISPEC is the abbreviation for School of infantry specialists, the place where they train Infantry section commanders.. a place in Pulau Tekong where they churn out Sergeants for the Army.

"That was a long time ago" he replied

MWO (Master Warrant Officer) Leonardo Fernandez was the OC (Officer Commanding) of Bravo Company back in 2001. He was there for many years prior to my stint there as a trainee. Back then, Bravo company was known to be the most dreaded place to end up if you got posted to SISPEC, it was as good as telling you to go to Hell. Getting posted to Bravo company was a death sentence. Rumours were abound during basic training about the tough training and conditions in Bravo company and it was this man who gave Bravo company it's reputation.

They sat us in the multi purpose hall, waiting to be called.. Private Tan ah kow, Alpha company, Private Goh ah Seng Golf company.... and I waited and waited to be called as the people around me got lesser and lesser. Finally it hit us like a ton of bricks... "The rest of you left here are going to BRAVO COMPANY"....... die.......

I actually missed my BMT days during the first few weeks at SISPEC. The training and discipline was totally different, i guess you could call this a culture shock... an especially rude one. I thought the trainers were crazy, I'm serious. MWO Fernandez is a disciplinarian, an old school military man. He was very harsh and firm towards his men such that all those in the company feared him.

His version of welfare was NOT of long canteen breaks and early book-outs. On the contrary, he would often say that the best form of welfare a soldier can get is 'tough and realistic training' Which, after reeling from the shock of what I have just mentioned appears to be quite true, because tough training is the best way to prepare us to react in times of war.

Warrant Fernandez set his standards high, very high. The company was always on it's toes, in terms of safety, training and discipline.

I remember one incident when I almost got myself seriously injured/killed when I ran into my buddy's line of fire during section live firing. He was supposed to provide covering fire by shooting while I was to run for cover in front, but in the confusion, I crossed into his lane. Thankfully.. he was not firing at that time. My first thought was not of how I narrowly escaped being killed, neither did my life flash before my eyes.

I was afraid that my OC saw me cock up by getting myself into such a dangerous position. I was afraid of the punishment for such an infringement of safety. At that very moment, I was more afraid of him than death.

I spent six months in Bravo Company. We survived the training and we survived our OC. Throughout this time, we learnt to be responsible, we learnt to be tough, to stand up for ourselves and the true meaning of welfare.

We were put through shit and we were whipped into men

and in my opinion, we were the finest that came out of SISPEC.

So we exchanged greetings and updated each other on what happened since 4 years ago, something I wouldn't dare to do/consider as a trainee back then.

"It's nice to see you again, Sir"

"same to you"

He got dressed in his clean, pressed and seasoned Army No. 4, the best way I remember him.

What dosen't kill you, only makes you stronger


At 7:54 AM, Blogger elfonse said...

Hullo there son, have you considered a career with the army? We take care of good, responsible, strapping young men like you!

At 3:45 AM, Blogger squawks said...

In response to your comment, well, it felt really good to be above the clouds. You just cannot describe it in words.

Anyway, i was from Bravo too, but under "Linkin' Park".

As you can see from my blog, i do not appreciate army even 0.0001% as much as you did.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger siyang said...

elfonse: I've considered but I'm not about to do anything.. too old liao.. no fucking way I'm going to compete with the Ociffer Cadets in OCS 6-7 years my junior

Squawk: wooo another from Bravo! Linkin Park? it must be after Fernandez... I don't miss the tough times but I appreciate the lessons :)


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