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AWOLnation…al Service

Un altro racconto di guerra; questa volta l’utente SingaporeanSloth scrive:

Inspired by another story in this sub about a guy called Garcia going AWOL, I have to recount the best AWOL story I have from my time doing National Service (NS) as an infantryman in the Singapore Army.

We'll call the star of this story, and my platoonmate, Shady, because that's very, very similar to his actual nickname, and because he bore a vague resemblance to a Chinese Eminem (what you get when you buy your rappers from Wish). This story is really one of the craziest I have, so I expect that some people may disbelieve, and I don't have any way of proving it without doxxing myself and Shady. However, I can personally vouch that everything in it is 100% true, and I'd love if some of my fellow Singapore Army servicemen who have heard this story chime in, because Shady was such a legend by the end of this story that most of Selarang Camp (the base where I was stationed) knew about him, including my secondary school friend who was a medic, mentioned in my previous story, and probably a decent portion of the Singapore Army who served 2016-2018 (you'll soon see why). But please don't dox him.

So, my first impression of Shady was formed when, on the first day we were assigned to our unit, 3rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, “Scorpions”, Shady decided to steal another platoonmate's PT shoes. A pair of shoes with a hole in them. Yeah. We found the shoes pretty quickly, and Shady had an unpleasant talking to with my platoon sergeant (PS), who we'll call First Sergeant (1SG) Highspeed (he was a career soldier, and a badass who served in several “cool-guy” units before and after his stint as our platoon sergeant). 1SG Highspeed decided not to charge Shady, but made it clear that Shady had better wake up his idea (Singapore Army slang that means to unfuck oneself). Shady did not take this message to heart, as you shall soon see.

AWOL Story 1: Shady Begins

So, less than a month after that, Shady goes AWOL the “normal” way, not booking-in after booking-out for the weekend. Oh well, no big surprise. If anyone from the platoon would go AWOL, it would be him. Life, mostly focused on training to be infantrymen, goes on as usual, and my platoon commander (PC), 1st Lieutenant (LTA) Horlan (Singapore Army slang for lost, some stereotypes are universal) and 1SG Highspeed carry out the normal procedures, reporting Shady as AWOL. LTA Horlan and 1SG Highspeed visit his house, no sign of Shady. So they turn the case over to the military police (MPs), making it “official”, and they make regular visits to his house and Shady's particulars are taken down so that if he ever has a run in with the normal Singapore Police Force (SPF), they'll see that he's flagged as AWOL.

Shady ends up booking-in again after about a month, and ends up charged, and sent to the detention barracks (DB, the Singapore Army's prison) for about a month (the typical punishment is imprisonment as long as you were AWOL, also, the time you need to serve is extended by the same duration). We find out that he went AWOL because his girlfriend was jealous and couldn't stand being apart from him (which I don't understand, since we could leave on weekends, and it wasn't exactly like Shady was having beach parties surrounded by hot chicks during the week). But I heard she had a great pair of tits, so I can understand Shady's devotion to her, at least a little.

Shady initially seems like he's become a born-again model soldier, and we're strictly told by our PC and PS not to tease him about going AWOL or his time in the DB (for example, we would be charged ourselves if we asked if he became anyone's prison bitch). The unit holds Scorpion Open House, a family day event, and I notice with some amusement Shady, his parents and girlfriend having an amicable conversation with our unit's officers, the men who charged him.

AWOL Story 2: Illegal Immigrant Boogaloo

After a few months, Shady again doesn't book-in after a weekend. 24 hours pass and he's still not back, so the AWOL process has to begin. LTA Horlan and 1SG Highspeed are livid. They pay a visit to the HDB (apartment block) where he lives and spot him and his girlfriend at the void deck (ground floor). Shady spots them, or at least their uniforms, and without saying a word to his girlfriend, bolts. But LTA Horlan and 1SG Highspeed have a plan. 1SG Highspeed, an incredibly good-looking guy (it's not gay to think he's hot, we all thought he was hot), goes over and begins flirting with his confused girlfriend. Meanwhile LTA Horlan goes after Shady. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Shady heads back to his girlfriend and, according to 1SG Highspeed, actually hides behind her while she gives 1SG Highspeed a tirade, after realising why they were looking for him. 1SG Highspeed gives shady an ultimatum: if he's a man, be back in camp by 2300 hours that day, and it ends there.

Of course, that's not what Shady does. We find out through one of his few friends in the platoon that realising he's soon gonna be flagged for the SPF, he and his girlfriend pack their bags, buys two plane tickets, and withdraws all his saved Singapore Army pay as cash, and takes a flight that night to Australia.

A year goes by, and we hear little of him. We think of him less and less often, thinking he's gone for good. But no! He returns! I play a small part in this story, as I am actually on guard duty the night he returns. His girlfriend actually walks him to the camp gate and there he is, emaciated, wearing a ratty T-shirt, bermudas and with hair that looked like he didn't get it cut since the day he left. I was left to hold the fort and watch the gate, but I get to see him handcuffed by the guard commander and brought to the company office. They initially handcuff him to a railing at the smoking corner, and our company sergeant major (CSM), our new PC -LTA Horlan and 1SG Highspeed since having transferred to another unit- LTA Fridge (because he was always cool and collected, and a huge guy, a wall of muscles literally the width of my actual fridge, and slightly taller, with biceps larger than my head) and our new PS, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Bamboozled (he was not the sharpest tool in the shed) have a talk with him. They eventually cuff him to a window railing in the company office, before the MPs come to pick him up and send him to the DB.

We find out that he and his girlfriend spent the year in a $20 a night motel somewhere in rural Australia, as an illegal immigrant, before his money ran out and he had to come back. I'm kinda surprised that he didn't try to get a cash-in-hand job in the construction industry or whatever, but I'm also not surprised.

LTA Fridge, who has not met Shady before, actually fights for him, and gets him a very short stint in the DB, only a few days or so, and he's back in the platoon. After a year, the platoon has changed though. While before, he was seen as one of us, if a little rebellious, a modern-day Singaporean Robin Hood, sticking a finger in the eye of the Man, there was now a clear divide. The platoon had an in-group. Shady was the only one out of it.

AWOL Story 3: The Finale

This time, Shady is determined to be the worst soldier he can possibly be. His first day back, he throws a shit fit when we go to the armskote (armoury) to draw arms for training. The armskote is separated from the guys drawing arms by a grilled window which the weapons are handed through, and Shady jumps up and clings onto this grill, while screaming his head off, like some sort of pai kia (Singaporean slang for trashy) Spiderman. LTA Fridge comes down to see what the commotion is about and Shady, presumably not wanting to be bent like a fucking pretzel, drops off the grill and behaves. My friend who works in the armskote and shared a bunk with Shady was kinda shaken by the incident. Little did he know what was to come.

Early the next morning at 0200, Shady wakes his section second-in-command (2IC) up, and tells him he thinks he's not gonna be at the outfield training later that day. The 2IC, who thought he meant that he was gonna report sick, says something to the effect of “I don't care anymore Shady, do whatever the fuck you want”.

When I wake up later that morning, something major has clearly happened in Shady's section. The guys are all shook-up but also laughing. Turns out, Shady wakes up at 0400, and grabs a parang (machete) from the sections stores, and attacks our platoon medic, who sleeps in the same bunk as him, the 2IC and my friend. They're able to get away, and rescue the medic, and someone even has the foresight to grab the bunk keys, letting them lock Shady inside the bunk, where he slams his parang against various things. LTA Fridge, PS Bamboozled and CSM arrive, and manage to talk him down, getting him sent to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), where after staying a few weeks, he finally gets what he wants, a PES F (discharge from the Singapore Army due to mental health issues).

With some irony, he only got out about 6 months before we would have ORD (discharge after finishing service) anyway. I don't know what's happened to him since. I wonder if the trouble was worth it to him