By Ang Yiying
A NATIONAL serviceman who won a coveted bravery award will now go overseas to study on the SAF Merit Scholarship.
Lieutenant Kok Khew Fai was awarded the SAF Medal for Distinguished Act for shielding a recruit from a hand grenade blast during an exercise last year.
Lt Kok, 21, was the first full-time national serviceman to earn the rare state honour. He is one of 13 recipients - including three women - awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship at a ceremony at the Temasek Club yesterday. They will serve as officers after graduation.
Seven Defence Merit Scholarships were handed out, with six going to women. They will serve in non-uniform positions.
The Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, top Defence Ministry and SAF personnel were at the ceremony.
Lt Kok said his two years of full-time national service had been a fulfilling experience. He is going to pursue his keen interest in aeronautical engineering at Imperial College, London, and will then serve as an air engineering officer.
Lt Chen Jingkai, 20, also decided to sign on because of his positive national service experience. He will study physiology and psychology at Oxford University on an SAF Merit Scholarship.
The platoon commander of an armour unit said: 'I get a lot of responsibility, not just for physical assets (armoured vehicles) but also the lives of 30 men.'
While women who do not serve mandatory national service, some are keen to join the ranks, including the three female recipients of the SAF Merit Scholarship.
One of the trio, Midshipman Charisia Ong, 19, will be a naval officer after completing a linguistics degree at University College, London. She developed a love for the sea from taking up canoeing in secondary school and had a desire to give back to the country.
Six women were also awarded Defence Military Scholarships.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.