I just watched Letters from Iwo Jima. I am inspired. Not to take any credit away from the film, I believe that as Singaporeans, we could create something in the similar mould. Name it Letters from SAF. Oh wait, Letters from Iwo Jima is a tragic tale told from the side of the Japanese in the battle for Iwo Jima. I suggest we turn Letters from SAF into a comedy/documentary.
Ok, Ok. I know the proud armed forces of Singapore is nowhere near the great imperial army of the Japanese. Those Japanese have seen bloodshed and bullets flying over their heads. We soldiers in the SAF have only seen a nice bunk and war games. There is no way we can compete in terms of drama and tragedy. Letters From Iwo Jima is created to commemorate those who lost their lives in the bloody battle for a strategically placed island. Singapore is an island with no current threat.
Yet, the tales that some guys reminisce about remind me about scenes from Iwo Jima. Like the way my friend sat on a marble seat with a cigarette in hand talking about his experience in his two and a half years in SAF. He spoke enthusiastically about the way he dragged his men out of danger when his recce mission was foiled by alert 'enemies'. The pain etched on his face and his hot, flustered cheeks(maybe its just the summer sun) when he told the tale actually made me imagine the impact that failed mission had on his life. He described in great depth how he actually worked very hard to secure a safe position to spy on the 'enemy' only to be discovered when one of his men broke a twig while crawling into position.
That pin drop that shattered the silence immediately alerted the 'enemy' who in the event of capturing an officer would recieve 3 off days and 1 off day for the capture of an enlisted man. The panic, the suspense and the danger of it all was so compelling that the people(girls) around him listened with great intent. Somehow it just reminded me of how Ken Watanabe boosted his Japanese soldiers' morale by declaring that 'I will always be in front of you.'
As scenes of bombs and bullets tore through the great Hoyte Cinema sound system, I envisioned myself running away in my SAF uniform with my rifle, my fieldpack and my buddy. Flashbacks of Ken Watanabe flipping through the charts and studying the maps reminded me of map reading and Company Tactic Course. I looked at those Japanese soldiers reminiscing about their civilian lives as bakers and whatnot and it reminded me again of the soldiers I encounter in my bunk discussing about plans after ORD. Just that unlike those Japanese soldiers, we are actually certain that we will survive our time in the army and live to do what we want after that.
As the final credits rolled out, I decided that Letters From SAF will be indeed a good idea. There are just so many similarities. Just that we Singaporeans can all sit down and have a good laugh about our experiences after two and a half years while those poor Japanese only live to tell their tale in the next world.