This happened around December 2002, in our dear Pulau Tekong. Wasn’t a personal experience, but it’s close enough i think.
I was in an Infantry Bn that was going to P.Tekong for an 5 day exercise. I suspect the sole purpose of the mission was to tekan us sec-coms and the men, for all we did was SBD after SBD, with the occasion platoon mission. At night we would move to another area in FBO to another part of Tekong to dig in and con, then repeat the cycle again next day.
We were all very tired by wednesday night having been doing drills since Monday. Now, that night after we finished our drills, we were supposed to move to another area to con, but for some reason, we were held at a training shed till ~11pm. Frankly then, me and my fellow sec-coms didn’t care why, we were just glad to get some rest.
A while later, news filtered down to us that X coy’s sec-com (let’s call him Sgt A) had gone missing during his FIBUA mission. Bn HQ was starting to worry and subsequently, the entire battalion was activated to search for him since X coy had not suceeded in locating the Sgt despite having been searching and combing the area since 7pm.
We took 5-tonners to the BUA village where Sgt A was last seen, and carried out a mass combing. Entire companies were formed up in an extended line, and we moved forward to search, all the while calling out Sgt A’s name. However by 2am, our Sgt A was still missing, and we had combed more than 2km from the BUA village. Those unlucky ones even bashed through the vegetation to search for him. All to no avail.
At around 2.30am, Thursday early morning, the search was finally called off. Sgt A had been found. We carried out our last mission on thursday afternoon and gathered at the BUA village (where Sgt A went missing) at CO’s orders.
There, the CO addressed the battalion and told us what happened …
On Wednesday evening, Sgt A was point section of his platoon to attack a BUA building. The exercise was a simple one, RV somewhere in the vegetation about 70m away from the building, then move towards it and carry out the usual drills.
It was getting dark then, and the platioon was lagging slightly. Sgt A told his men he would move ahead and check out the front, and instructed them to wait for the platoon. However, when the platoon arrived, Sgt A wasn’t there. Not sensing anything admiss at that time, the platoon carried out the attack without Sgt A. Maybe the PC decided to question Sgt A when he came back.
It was nearing 8pm, and Sgt A still hadn’t come back. The PC ordered the platoon to search for their Sgt. Soon the search expanded involved the Coy, and finally the whole Battalion.
Sgt A was eventually found at the Malay School by a mortar/scout (details are foggy, don’t remember which exactly) section at around 230am. For those who don’t know, this Malay School place was some distance away from the BUA village where Sgt A had gone missing. He was unconcious and suffering from mild hypothermia when discovered, and was immediately sent to the BMTC medical center for treatment.
Sgt A initially refused to tell anyone what exactly happened, but after some time, he finally told his side of the story …
That evening when Sgt A went ahead of his platoon alone that evening, he saw a white, seemingly female figure. This figure told Sgt A to follow. For some reason, Sgt A felt compelled to follow and couldn’t resist. He also mentioned he seem to be viewing everything from a 3rd person perspective from behind ie. he was somehow looking at himself from behind following the white figure.
Sgt A (and the figure) arrived at the Malay School Tekong.
There, the figure asked Sgt A to kill himself.
Our CO then mentioned that it was fortunate that we train with blanks instead of live rounds.
Maybe it’s wasn’t Sgt A’s time yet, so to speak. Maybe it was pure survival instinct that Sgt A didn’t commit suicide despite the white figure telling him to. Maybe that particular being didn’t have enought “power”. Or maybe it was the lack of lethal equipment, as he didn’t have live rounds to shoot himself with. In any case, it’s was fortunate that we didn’t lose a life over the incident.
For the skeptics out there :
If you don’t believe Sgt A, please remember he had no need to reason to lie and cause a big hooha that would eventually involve the entire batallion of 400+ soldiers. If he was sick he could just have fallen out. I didn’t know Sgt A personally as I was a spec in another coy, and furthermore I was from a older SISPEC batch that passed out earlier. But his fellow coy specs with whom i was more friendly with told me that Sgt A isn’t the “chao keng” type, more of the hardworking type (A was a regular btw).
It’s also highly unlikely that Sgt A got lost in Tekong and invented the story to “save face”. All Infantry specs spend 8 months “playing” in Tekong and are quite familiar with at least 75% of tekong ground having done exercise/torpor extensively on the island; and Sgt A was a fresh spec that had graduated out of SISPEC not too long ago before the incident. Furthermore, all Sgts have a damn map/compass set and are proficient using them.
Lastly, he was less than 100m from the BUA. If he needed medical help, it was 100m away. He was 100m away from all the light and noise that the rest of the coy was making in another part of the BUA …