October 23, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PAGO PAGO ---- SAMOAN ARMY MAJOR NOW F.B.I. SPECIAL AGENT
Congressman Faleomavaega is very proud to announce that Mr. Bernard F. Togia, son of the late Fa'atau Togia of Ta'u, Manu'a and the late Mrs. Anuilagi Fano-Togia of Faga'alu, will graduate on October 27th as Special Agent from the nation's most renowned enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, "FBI". Due to his bid for reelection, the Congressman regrets that he will not be able to attend this significant occasion in American Samoa's history, "to the best of my knowledge and from the Bureau's records, there are less than a handful of Samoans who have actually graduated as FBI Special Agents and are now serving in the United States and around the world."
Faleomavaega continued,"This is an extremely proud moment for all of us, that a son of Samoa can accomplish this great feat and inspire our young people -- be it those in college or in the military or even those who remain indecisive of their lives' goals -- a career in the FBI is not only attainable but is accessible to them. Bernard Togia has exemplified the tenacity necessary to endure the rigors of nearly sixteen weeks of difficult training both physically and mentally and that with sheer determination, it is possible to achieve such a lofty goal. One of the criteria of the FBI Academy is a postgraduate degree which indicates the requirement of a good education. Togia has set a standard of excellence, that a career in one of the most prestigious agencies in America is reachable."
Born in Hawaii and the second of three sons, Bernard Togia's many successes are the result of hard work and commitment to his family and country. His father served in the United States Army and did two tours of Viet Nam, in 1968 and and in 1970. The family lived in Germany before Mr. Togia's second tour, then Mrs. Togia and her sons (Bernard and his brothers Fa'atau Jr. and Bingham,) moved to American Samoa where the young boys attended Fia Iloa Elementary School, formerly known as Feleti Independence School in Utulei.
The elder Togia returned from Viet Nam in 1973 and he moved his family to Hawaii where Bernard graduated from Radford High School in 1981. They eventually settled in the state of Washington. In 1986 Bernard received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from California State University in Long Beach and became a commissioned officer.
Congressman Faleomavaega recalls with great pride when he and Mrs. Anuilagi Togia were given the honor of pinning Second Lieutenant bars on Officer Togia during the 1986 commemoration of the Samoan Flag Day in Fort Lewis, Washington.
In a recent profound letter to Congressman Faleomavaega, the son of Ta'u and Faga'alu natives recalls the poignancy of sharing that experience with his Samoan people. "It was an honor that left an indelible mark on my life and was a source of immense pride for my parents. Specifically, your remarks that day only reinforced my desire to serve as a role model for young Samoan men and women. The memory of that day has never once left me. Having just completed a wonderful twelve-years in the active Army, culminating in the rank of Major, I always saw myself as a Samoan role model first, and Army Officer second." In the past year, Togia was Assistant Professor of Military Science at Saint John's University in New York City, New York before joining the FBI.
Although he only spent three years of his life in Samoa, Togia believes his cultural heritage is what makes him unique and that the love of his caring parents instilled a lasting impression on the importance of Samoan values and the richness of our culture. He remembers fondly his relatives in the islands and the experience of growing up in an extended Samoan family. He recalls his uncle Bingham Fano, now a Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Samoa and their family elders and the role they played in keeping the family together and the closeness between all its members.
Asked how he maintained his Samoan pride and endearing his culture despite spending very few years in the native land, Bernard said, "I'm not unusual. As with most Samoan families who lived many years away from Samoa, my parents made sure we took part in everything Samoan and that we knew our culture. As a matter of fact we even learned our family tree while we were still young and we have always participated in the usual feaus of the family."
During his mother's funeral in 1987, Bernard said a lot of his family traveled thousands of miles from Samoa because of their love for his mother who was considered a mother to many of his relatives. This only reinforced his belief that the Samoan culture truly defines who the Samoan people are. His father passed away in 1995 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In the same letter, the Congressman was reminded of his positive influence on Togia's life and was encouraged by the new FBI agent to continue to be a stellar example to young Samoans. "As I embark on a new career as a FBI Special Agent, it would be my hope that you continue to inspire Samoans everywhere, as you did for me that day twelve years ago. And in doing so, relay my story as one of thousands of Samoans who strive to serve as an example for our fellow Samoans, that they may feel empowered to better their lives and that of their families." Mr. Togia's first office assignment will be New York City where he resides with his wife, the former Elizabeth Adams and their children, daughter Anuilagi, 9, and sons Bingham, 7, and Joseph, 1.
"This is yet another Samoan success story which I am honored to share with my fellow Samoans," concluded Congressman Faleomavaega.