Longest Presidential Gun Salute sailpast, first Onward March for NDP 2024

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Longest Presidential Gun Salute sailpast, first Onward March for NDP 2024 https://www.defencepioneer.sg/pioneer-articles/10jul24_news1
10 Jul 2024 | COMMUNITY

Longest Presidential Gun Salute sailpast, first Onward March for NDP 2024

This NDP, the PGS will be travelling a total of 5.87km – its longest ever – for the sailpast.
//Story by Joshua de Souza //Photos by PIONEER photographers & Joshua de Souza
This NDP, the PGS will be travelling a total of 5.87km – its longest ever – for the sailpast.

As NDP draws near, here's a look at what goes on behind the scenes, as well as the faces behind the Presidential Gun Salute and marching contingent.

This NDP, the PGS will be travelling a total of 5.87km – its longest ever – for the sailpast.

If you happen to be at the Marina Bay over these few Saturdays, you may have caught a glimpse of the Presidential Gun Salute (PGS) sailing past the area.

This National Day Parade (NDP), the PGS will be embarking on the longest sailpast, travelling a total of 5.87km in an effort to engage more Singaporeans.

The booms may be grand and resounding but it takes a lot of work to bring these big guns to the bay. Here’s a look at what goes on behind the scenes, as well as the faces of personnel who are giving their all to put up a good show come 9 Aug.

Preparations for the PGS start at about 7am.

Preparations for the PGS start early in the morning, at about 7am. Five Mobility 3rd Generation (M3G) Rafts are first pushed out into the Kallang Basin. They are then interconnected in the water to form the combined raft within an hour, ready for the 25-pounders to be brought onboard.

Don't forget to wave to the PGS crew as they sail past!

Did you know that Hormat means “to give respect or salute”, and the highest military honour is the PGS?

This NDP crowd favourite is synchronised with the Presidential Inspection of the parade during the Parade and Ceremony (P&C) segment, with each shot of the 21-gun salute matching the President’s inspection.

CPT Chia is glad that the longest PGS sailpast will help to engage more Singaporeans.

This year, the decision for the longest sailpast route was made “to have more interaction with Singaporeans”, said Captain (CPT) Kimberly Chia.

In 2018, CPT Chia was the Deputy Organising Secretary for the PGS during NDP.

Today, the 31-year-old steps up as the Organising Secretary, helping to ensure that the training and participation of the PGS goes smoothly.

Even as the longest sailpast comes with a greater challenge of having “more stakeholders and entities to engage and look after”, CPT Chia is glad that it will engage more Singaporeans.

“(The new sailpast route) will let more people have a glimpse of what the PGS does and see (the crew) in action.”

1SG Senthil Kumaran is proud to be part of the PGS.

The 25-pounders may deliver the bang, but it’s the efforts of the Singapore Army’s Engineers operating the M3G Raft that help to deliver the guns to their position at the Marina Bay.

For Raft Commander 1st Sergeant (1SG) Gautham Senthil Kumaran, the safety of his and the PGS crew remains his top priority. The 25-year-old also in charge of ensuring that the PGS arrives on time and is able to deliver a good performance.

“The experience (as part of the PGS) is exhilarating. I take a lot of pride in it as the PGS is one of the most important segments in NDP.”

The Volunteer Contingent returns to the parade after five years.

Returning to NDP after five years in the P&C segment is the Volunteer Contingent, whose last appearance was in 2019.

This year, the contingent comprises 61 members of the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC), and the Home Team Volunteer Network.

Strong family support: SV2 Tan's nieces are proud of her for marching in the parade.

Leading the Volunteer Contingent this year is Contingent Commander SAFVC Volunteer (SV) 2 Jasmine Tan Kaijun, who has had tremendous support from her family, especially her four nieces. 

“My nieces have all watched (the parade) already,” said the 39-year-old.

“They would ask me for my marching schedule so when they watch with their classmates (during the National Education shows), they can tell their friends that it’s their aunt who’s marching in the parade.”

ME1T Ng (second from right) feels a sense of nostalgia marching in the parade as she did it before 10 years ago.

As part of the P&C segment, the marching contingents will execute different formations and drills from the Total Defence 40 (TD40) formation to the first Onward March, where the parade contingents will march up the spectator stands.

For Military Expert 1 Trainee (ME1T) Charmaine Ng, this is a nostalgic throwback to her NDP participation 10 years ago. ­

“It was nice seeing many of my secondary school juniors marching as part of the Girls’ Brigade Contingent this year,” said the 23-year-old, who was part of the TD30 formation in NDP 2014 with the Girls’ Brigade.

This NDP, ME1T Ng is marching in the TD40 formation with the Republic of Singapore Navy. Incidentally, it was her participation back in 2014 which inspired her to join the SAF!

“The parade trainers (in 2014) were Regulars, and they were the ones who inspired me to sign on with their stories.”

Hoist the Colours high: The Colours Party leading the Guard-of-Honour contingents into the Padang.

The Feu-de-Joie brings a military-style applause for the nation's birthday.

A crowd favourite, the Feu-de-Joie, or “Fire of Joy”, brings a military-style applause in celebration of the nation’s birthday.

This requires a close coordination of five GOH contingents, delivering precision through the continuous fire of guns.

First-time participant MAJ Ee (foreground, holding sword) can feel a strong energy among participants as he trains with them on the parade ground.

For Major (MAJ) Ee Guorong, participating in the parade is exhilarating as he feels an “overwhelming” energy from the parade.

“I never had the opportunity to feel (the energy from the parade) live as compared to (watching it) on TV,” said the 34-year-old, who is participating in NDP for the first time.

As the Contingent Commander for the Singapore Army’s Guard-of-Honour (GOH) contingent, MAJ Ee shared that there are major responsibilities to handle on and off the parade ground.

“(When the GOH marches in), I’ll pace the GOH contingents as the first contingent.

“And when we’re off the parade ground, I need to motivate my guys to give it their all.”

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