Cheng Puay reminisces the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

Lim Cheng Puay looking at “Reaching Out, Operation Flying Eagle”, an account of Singapore Armed Forces humanitarian efforts at Aceh.

He was at Phuket that tragic day, 26th December 2004, trying to get Patong Beach after a visit to a temple. They were unable to reach the beach due to road blocks. Terrorist activity was not uncommon those days, so he and his friends thought it was JI at work when they saw casualties being ferried out past road blocks.

Explanations were not easily forthcoming until they chanced on an English-language news update on a television set at a shopping mall. And they drove past a sea with a heavily churned up beach with brown waters, and destroyed property on what was their scheduled last day at Phuket, 27th December 2004.

They flew out to Changi Airport and shared what they saw with waiting reporters, eager for their eyewitness account of the damage.

Not for temple visit, Cheng Puay and his friends might have been casualties that day. He has regarded Boxing Day as his birthday ever since.

“Reaching Out: Operation Flying Eagle” is available as an e-book from MINDEF. Read about how SAF made us proud by their prompt, thoughtful and efficient action at what a desperate time for many in the region.

Cheng Puay is proud to serve.

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