Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that while on assignment in Asia he visited Cambodia where CW4 Nicholas Punimata is serving as the military defense attaché to the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia.
“I was so proud to learn when I arrived in Cambodia that CW4 Punimata is serving as the military attaché responsible for providing security for our US embassy and facilitating counterterrorism training to the government officials of Cambodia,” Faleomavaega said. “CW4 Punimata is a member of the elite U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret). He has served for some 26 years now and is a certified Master Airborne Paratrooper and Ranger in the Army.”
“CW4 Nicholas Punimata was the first ever Warrant Officer and the only Samoan to have received the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award in 2001. This top award is given annually to company grade officers in the Active Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard who exhibit extraordinary leadership abilities or ideals for which General Douglas MacArthur stood – duty, honor, country, and is usually reserved for the top brass in the military and VIPs. CW4 Punimata is very well respected among our Embassy officials and especially our Ambassador and has a wealth of knowledge on counterterrorism and interdiction of serious drug trafficking in the region, and I fully commend him for the work he is doing. CW4 Punimata is the son of Nu’uese Punimata and Matamulisesula Punimata of Utulei and Ta’u, Manu’a respectively.”
“Cambodia is a land that has seen tremendous sorrow and suffering as the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot whereby more than 1.7 million Cambodians were slaughtered, tortured and murdered -- and almost every government leader I met had lost family members as a result of this terrible genocide that took place.”
“I visited the ‘killing fields’ and saw massive graves where some 9,000 bodies were buried one on top of the other; and the prisons where men, women, and children were systematically tortured, and my heart sank seeing so up close of the tremendous sufferings that these people went through, and all because of an ideology that was so twisted and inhumane.”
“On the other hand, I also saw the resilience of the human spirit as the good-hearted people of Cambodia are working to rebuild, and as their neighbors, including Vietnam, are working to help. I was struck by the words of the Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, His Excellency Cham Prasidh, who said, “When you are drowning, you do not care about the color of the hand that is saving you.”
“I believe that man has a responsibility to help his fellowmen, and for that reason, I am so thankful I had the opportunity to stop in Cambodia for two days while on assignment to Asia. The experience was profound and I will certainly do all I can to help the people and leaders of Cambodia to rebuild their nation.” Faleomavaega concluded.