Red Lion injured in NDP 2022 helping to prepare 2023 team
Third Warrant Officer Jeffrey Heng, the Red Lion who was injured after a hard landing at the National Day Parade (NDP) 2022, was certified medically fit to resume training in mid-April.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on Friday said 3WO Heng is the overall jump master, in-charge of coordinating training for the NDP 2023 Red Lions team.
Chief commando officer Pang Chee Kong told reporters at Hendon Camp, in Changi, on Friday that 3WO Heng is fit to jump again, and will return to freefall training progressively.
“He’s doing training for the next generation of airborne troopers,” said Colonel Pang.
“We are trying to tell him to take it slowly. He has just recovered.”
3WO Heng is helping with training for NDP 2023, added Colonel Pang, but is unlikely to be part of the Red Lions team jumping on National Day.
He said 3WO Heng can be considered for the NDP 2024 team once he has resumed freefall refresher training and gone through prerequisite jumps.
SAF on Friday said a review panel it had commissioned in the wake of 3WO Heng’s injury did not find any procedural lapses surrounding the incident.
The panel found that there were “sudden and unexpected changes in wind conditions” during the display jump on Aug 9, 2022, and that the parachutists had experienced more turbulence than in rehearsal jumps.
3WO Heng, who has tallied more than 1,100 jumps, experienced a sudden strong gust of wind from behind as he was approaching his final turn, and executed a sharp left turn to maintain control of his flight path, said SAF.
This caused his parachute to be depressurised briefly, which resulted in a loss of altitude, it said.
SAF said the panel “found that he could have turned towards the final leg earlier by adopting a more gradual turn profile”.
Without sufficient altitude for a slower landing, 3WO Heng “instinctively executed the parachute landing fall as per protocol”, said SAF, which noted that doing so “mitigated the landing impact and prevented serious injury”.
Lieutenant-Colonel Neo Choon Chea, who oversees Red Lions training as commanding officer of the Special Operations Tactical Support Centre, said 3WO Heng did what was required of him during the incident, and executed what is a “fundamental break fall technique” for any parachutist who is unable to perform a soft landing due to circumstances.
“He did exactly as required to avert a more serious outcome, so we have to applaud Jeff for that,” said Lt-Col Neo.
Col Pang and Lt-Col Neo, who are both trained parachutists, emphasised that given the conditions 3WO Heng faced, he had only seconds to make a decision on what to do during the incident, and they would have done the same if put in his shoes.
“If we say he could have turned earlier, he could have turned a few microseconds earlier,” said Lt-Col Neo.
“So it’s that margin of difference we’re talking about. They really rely on their experience and heuristics to assess the situation.”
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