Congressman Faleomavaega today offered his personal congratulations to Colonel Leafaina “Ina” Tavai-Yahn on her new assignment as the commander of the 404th Army Field Support Brigade headquartered at Fort Lewis, Washington.
COL Tavai-Yahn recently graduated from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where she received her Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies thus completing her promotion to Colonel. On June 15, 2011, COL Tavai-Yahn officially took command of the brigade from retiring COL George Akin in a Change of Command Ceremony that was presided over by Major General Yves Fontaine and attended by many of COL Tavai-Yahn’s family.
According to the U.S. Army website, the 404th Army Field Support Brigade implements the Materiel Enterprise to forces throughout the western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The Brigade also provides acquisition, logistics and technology-related sustainment support to Army, joint, and multinational forces, as well other government agencies through a combination of direct support and general support as directed by the Army Sustainment Command and senior Army sustainment command in its area of operations.
“I want to congratulate COL Tavai-Yahn for completing her promotion to Colonel and becoming the new commander of the 404th Army Field Support Brigade. As far as I know, Ina is the first active commissioned officer of Samoan ancestry to command a brigade and I am so proud of her and what she has accomplished,” said Faleomavaega.
“COL Tavai-Yahn is a role model and a leader for all our Samoan youth as she represents the core qualities and values of the Toa o Samoa. From her humbled beginnings at West Point to her many assignments and tours around the world, we must recognize her for her service to our country and for making the many sacrifices together with her family in order to protect the many freedoms we enjoy today.”
“We have many sons and daughters from Samoa and the rest of the Pacific in our military today. COL Tavai-Yahn is a great ambassador for our military and she will continue to do so in her new capacity as commander of this important component of our military.”
Born and raised in American Samoa, Leafaina is the daughter of the late High Chief Atiumaletavai Kaleopa and Lauolive Toomalatai Tavai from the village of Gataivai. She is married to Chief Warrant Officer Four (retired) Rocky D. Yahn.
COL Tavai-Yahn is a graduate of Samoana High School in American Samoa. Following her high school graduation, she was accepted to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point when she was nominated by former Congressman Fofo I.F. Sunia, and she became the first ever Samoan to graduate from the academy.
She received her Bachelor of Science from West Point and was then commissioned Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in May, 1989. She is also a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and holds an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
COL Tavai-Yahn’s previous assignments include Automotive/Armament Platoon Leader, Shop Officer, and Support Operations Maintenance Officer in the 3rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany. She served as the Combat Vehicle Maintenance Manager, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas and commanded Delta Company, 124th Main Support Battalion which was later re-flagged as the 704th Main Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. After company command, COL Yahn served as the Deputy MMC Chief and Materiel Readiness Officer, 4th Infantry Division before being assigned to Aberdeen Proving Grounds as the Adjutant to the Chief of Ordnance.
After graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, COL Tavai-Yahn was assigned as the Materiel Readiness Officer for 3rd Infantry Division while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom during the fight to Baghdad. Following redeployment, she served as the Support Operations Officer, 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. After this assignment, she served as the Support Operations Officer, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade during the 3rd Infantry Division second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III (2005-2006).
Following redeployment, she served as the Director of Officer Training at the US Army Ordnance Center and Schools, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland. In February 2007, COL Yahn assumed command of the 589th “Iron Caissons” Brigade Support Battalion, 41st Fires Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas. She commanded for 32 months including a 14-month deployment to OIF 08-09 in support of the 41st Fires Brigade and all coalition forces operating in Wasit Province. After giving up command in 2009, she served as the Deputy Commander for the 120th IN BDE (Training Support Brigade), Division West before attending the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
“Again, I want to congratulate COL Tavai-Yahn, her husband retired Chief Warrant Officer Rocky Yahn, her mother – Lauolive, and all her family and I wish her much success with her new assignment,” concluded Faleomavaega.