Siblings on RSAF postings in US unite at SAF exercise in Idaho
MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho – Despite being posted to the United States as air force engineers, Military Expert 3 Yew Boon Leng and his younger brother Yew Boon Siong never had any opportunity in nine months to visit each other.
ME3 Yew, 35, relocated to Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho in December 2022 to join the Peace Carvin V detachment of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
The north-western state is about a 17-hour drive to Arizona state in the south-west, where his 32-year-old brother has been with RSAF’s Peace Carvin II detachment at Luke Air Force Base for almost two years.
Idaho is an hour ahead of Arizona, and the brothers had to make do with phone calls until they finally met in person on Sept 16.
They are part of Exercise Forging Sabre – a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) exercise being held in Idaho between Sept 11 and 30.
Recounting their first meeting since being posted to the US, ME3 Yew said it had been a long time since his five-year-old daughter saw her uncle.
They went to the capital city of Boise for ramen, which his daughter wanted to eat.
“My daughter kept holding his hand, she forgot her father already,” ME3 Yew said as his brother laughed.
Even though opportunities for the two siblings to meet are few and far between – and subject to their schedules – they try to maintain communication not only with each other, but also with their parents and sister back home.
Military Expert 2 Yew Boon Siong said: “At first, they were quite worried about us, but as and when (we can)… we send news back to them. Every once in a while, we do video calls on weekends too.”
His older brother chimed in: “Usually when he calls me at odd hours, it’s not to ‘hello, hello.’ It’s to (say) ‘hello, can help me or not?’"
After a duration of about two to three years in their respective overseas detachments, the brothers will be posted back to Singapore.
RSAF also has another detachment in Arizona, as well as others in Australia and France.
While technology has made it easier for the Yew brothers to keep in touch with loved ones, being posted overseas means that they cannot celebrate festive occasions such as Chinese New Year together.
That is when the communities in their respective detachments gather to prepare Singapore dishes like laksa and chicken rice so that everyone gets a taste of home.
It is this camaraderie that helped Captain Chua Kang Yi, 32, when his seven-month-old son Maverick had swollen eyes while he was out training.
The F-15SG weapons systems officer, who is based in Idaho, said that as he was in the air and uncontactable, his wife sought help from the spouse of one of the Peace Carvin V detachment personnel to take their son to the hospital.
“That is the kind of help (we extend) to one another. There are quite a lot of families living together... and instead of being just a friend or a colleague, I know all of their spouses and families.
“When we go camping, for example, we also go with other personnel’s parents that actually come here to visit,” Capt Chua added.
“They came for a good three months to help take care of (my wife) Vivian, as well as Maverick, so that was really helpful.”
Asked about the inspiration behind their son’s name, Mrs Vivian Chua, 31, said they were inspired by Tom Cruise’s character in the Top Gun sequel released in 2022.
“We feel that he’s actually quite a good role model in the show… in the future when Maverick asks why we chose this name for him, there’s a role model he can aspire to,” she said.
“We also hope that in the future, he will actually be interested in the aviation industry as well so he will be like his father, who can show him the ropes.”