SINGAPORE – Crowds thronged the F1 Pit Building on the first day of the Army Open House 2022 on Saturday (May 28).
The event, held after a five-year break, saw long queues forming from morning as visitors waited for their turn to try out activities such as firing the SAR21 rifle and take photographs with military tanks.
All 90,000 tickets for the event, which ends on Monday, have been taken.
Slots for the same event, which will be held at Punggol from June 3 to 5 and Bishan from June 10 to 12, have also been fully booked.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen launched the open house themed “Generations of Strength”, and NS55 Showcase – an exhibition which highlights the evolution of national service and achievements of servicemen through the years.
Mr Michael See, a 46-year-old civil servant, booked 10 tickets immediately after they were released.
He said: “My son said he wants to be a tank commander so this is a good opportunity to let him see what national service is about.”
Mr Lu Yixin, 22, an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, said he was thrilled to see the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier vehicle at the “our army platforms zone”.
He said: “I used to ride the vehicle with my scouts platoon mates during national service, so being inside it brings back many memories.”
St. Gabriel’s Secondary School students Akhyan Tamang and Russell Yeo were among those who managed to secure a ferry ride on the M3G military raft, which is typically used to build bridges for military operations at the “battle rides” zone.
Akhyan, 16, said: “The M3G has been my favourite part of the open house. The feeling of the breeze in your face as you go down the river is mesmerising.”
Russell, 16, said the exhibitions and rides gave him a insight into life in national service.
He added: “During the rides, they gave many safety briefings telling you what you should not do. When I enlist, I hope the tanks will be more familiar to me.”
Mr Carvalho Edmund, 40, who visited the NS55 showcase with his family, said: “During my NS, I did a lot of field training so watching the recollections and videos makes me miss my days in the army.”
Nanyang Technological University student Ngor Cheng En, 24, said he hopes the public will understand why an operationally-ready army is needed to safeguard a small country such as Singapore.
“The Russia-Ukraine war serves as a timely reminder on how we need to be self-reliant and independent when it comes to defending our country, and that our peace should not be taken for granted.”