S'pore soldiers can fight

S'pore soldiers can fight
Retired Lieutenant-General Winston Choo, 72, held court in his office on the 19th level of Ngee Ann City. He is currently chairman of Metro Holdings’ board of directors.

Why he joined the army

His was a career of firsts.

During his 33 years in the military, he was the youngest officer to rise to the rank of Brigadier-General.

He was also the first professional soldier to achieve the rank of Major-General.

His promotion to Lieutenant-General made him Singapore's first three-star general.

He is also the first and longest-serving Chief of the Singapore Armed Forces.

Yet retired Lieutenant-General Winston Choo, 72, said his military career came out of a desire to get away from books and exams as soon as he was done with school.

All he wanted was to be out in the great outdoors. A career with the military seemed perfect.

But the young Winston Choo was to discover just how wrong he was.

Back then, the military was styled after Sandhurst, the military academy and training centre for British Army officers. And that meant hitting the books.

At the end of his career, he had received a degree from the National University of Singapore, a master's from Duke University in the US, and an Advanced Management Programme at Harvard - all sponsored by the military.

Not surprisingly, the parents and grandparents of Lt-Gen (Ret) Choo, the only son in the family, had wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer.

When he broke the news of his acceptance into military college on Christmas Eve of 1959 to his family and that he had to leave for Port Dickson the day after New Year's Day, "there was a lot of gnashing of teeth", Lt-Gen (Ret) Choo said.

"But I loved the great outdoors, so a career in the military was a natural choice for me," he added.

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