In 1968, young firefighter Yunnos Shariff marched for the Singapore Fire Service at the National Day Parade.
It was one of the proudest moments of his life, recalls the retired Singapore Civil Defence Force second warrant officer, now 77.
He was born in the former Geylang Fire Station in Paya Lebar Road into a family of firefighters, but was the first to be picked for the parade.
He got to relive those memories during the Golden Jubilee celebration in 2015, when he donned his old khaki-coloured uniform, with its black helmet and silver buttons, once more to march in that year's vintage parade.
"I was so elated and filled with great pride when some of the younger participants in the parade came up to me and asked me about my past experiences as a firefighter in the early years of Singapore's independence," he says.
He regaled them with stories of how he helped fight the 1972 Robinsons Department Store fire that killed nine people, and how back in the 1960s and 1970s, they did not even have proper firefighting jackets or sophisticated equipment, just wooden rescue ladders.
Mr Yunnos, who continues to volunteer as a guide at the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery in Hill Street, plans to stay home this year and watch the parade telecast with his wife, as it is safer for them as seniors.
"Near or far, at the actual parade site or off-site, I am sure the celebrative mood of the nation's birthday will not diminish in all our hearts," he says.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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