Congressman Faleomavaega met with Command Sergeant Major Ioakimo Falaniko in his Washington, DC office to congratulate him for being the winner of the military “Meritorious Service Award” presented by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) during its annual conference held this week in Crystal City, Virginia. FAPAC is an inter-agency organization of Asian Pacific American employees representing over 100 Federal agencies and the District of Columbia government. The award is presented each year during FAPAC’s annual conference to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Asian Pacific Americans (APA) and the promotion of equal employment opportunity in the Federal work force and the APA community.
The FAPAC awards program noted that Mr. Falaniko has spent his entire career helping his fellow Samoan service members to bridge the gap between the Asian Pacific community and people of other ethnicity. He has mentored, counseled and inspired countless Samoan soldiers and helped their families to adjust to a land and culture vastly different from their native Samoa.
“Mr. Falaniko has truly demonstrated himself as a strong leader at his work and in Fort Lewis community,” said Congressman Faleomavaega. “He is an exceptional individual of true Samoan character who cares a lot about his fellow Samoans in the military. He will make an excellent role model for other Samoan youth especially those joining the military.”
CSM Falaniko is currently stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. He has been serving his country with honor in the United States Army for 24 years.
CSM Falaniko took advantage of his meeting with Congressman Faleomavaega to discuss a few matters of concern to the Samoans in the military. One key issue according to Falaniko is the difficulty faced by Samoans in the military and their families to vote in American Samoa elections, especially those soldiers whose taxes are paid to the American Samoa government. Falaniko told Faleomavaega that many Samoan soldiers and their families abroad are disenfranchised and feel cheated during each election year under the current election law. That many have difficulty registering to vote and during a run-off election, as it was in last year, the majority of those who would have voted did not receive ballot forms.
Faleomavaega advised Falaniko of the efforts he has made in past years to address the issue, however, in order to effect change would require members of the military and their families to make their concerns known to the Fono and the Governor. Faleomavaega further advised CSM Falaniko that this very issue is among those he is seeking advise from the people of American Samoa through a survey he had just distributed.
Mr. Ioakimo Falaniko hails from the village of Amanave where his parents were Fesoasoani in the Catholic Church. He graduated from Marist Brothers High School in 1974 and later joined the U.S. Army in 1976. He is the son of the late Niko Falaniko from Vaimoso Samoa and Matalena of Amanave. He is married to Maliana, the daughter of Afano and Luse Ah Ching of Aua. Falaniko and Maliana are the proud parents of Niko, Jonathan, Adeline and Otilia.
Photo: Congressman Faleomavaega with CSM Ioakimo Falaniko and his wife Maliana during their meeting in DC.
Photo: Solomona Aoelua (May 2001)