WASHINGTON, D.C.—PRIVATE JONATHAN FALANIKO LAID TO REST AT ARLINGTONNATIONALCEMETERY
Congressman Faleomavaega announced that he and members of the Samoan community in the Washington, DC metropolitan area joined the parents and family of Private Jonathan Falaniko during the wake on the evening of Thursday November 6 and when he was laid to rest on Friday, November 7, 2003, at the ArlingtonNationalCemetery.A large number of representatives from the U.S. Army including top-ranking officials were also in attendance.
The funeral plans for Private Falaniko began with a viewing on Thursday evening November 6, 2003 at the Murphy Funeral Home in Arlington, Virginia.Congressman Faleomavaega, along with Paramount Chief Galea’i Tu’ufuli, and Talking Chief Tua’aumafuamalu Faletogo spoke during the ceremony.They were later joined by members of the Samoan community in singing a number of Samoan hymns.
A chapel service was held on Friday November 7, 2003 at at the Memorial Chapel in Fort Myer, Virginia followed by the burial in the renowned Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). The ANC is the best known of more than one hundred national cemeteries in the United States.Veterans from every war the U.S. has been involved in are laid to rest at the National cemetery.
The ANC is also the burial place for distinguished persons like late presidents John F. Kennedy and William Taft and is home to numerous memorials and monuments including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, and the IranRescueMissionMonument.
Private Jonathan Falaniko’s body arrived on November 4, 2003 in the United States from Germany where his parents are currently stationed.Accompanying his body on the flight were his parents, Command Sergeant Major Ioakimo Falaniko and Maliana Falaniko, and sister, Otilia Falaniko.Private Falaniko’s older brother, Niko Falaniko, with his son and fiancée, flew in from Seattle, Washington to attend the funeral services.
According to the U.S. Army, Jonathan was killed on October 27 in Baghdad, Iraq by a Rocket Propelled Grenade attack.He had only been in the U.S. Army for less than 6 months.He attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in May 2003 and was deployed in Iraq in August of this year.Private Falaniko was then assigned to the 70th Engineer Battalion under the 1st Armored Division, Engineers Brigade of which his father, Ioakimo Falaniko, was the Command Sergeant Major and the most senior enlisted soldier.
“Without a doubt, Private Jonathan Falaniko was a true American and Samoan hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.“Jonathan died while serving a very important mission, fighting against terrorism and to bring peace and freedom to the people of Iraq.We should all salute this young man for his bravery and his selfless service.”
“I was privileged to be invited by the Falaniko family to join them and a limited number of high ranking members of the U.S. Army at a private awards ceremony for Private Jonathan Falaniko prior to the chapel service.During the ceremony, Lieutenant General Robert Flowers, Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, on behalf of the U.S. Army, presented the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal to Maliana for her fallen son.I followed by presenting to Maliana and Command Sergeant Major Falaniko a flag that I had flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of their son.It was a very solemn and inspiring ceremony that was also attended by the Sergeant Major of the Army, Jack Tilley.”
“The private awards ceremony was followed by the funeral service at the Memorial Chapel,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.“At the request of the Falaniko family, there were only four speakers.I spoke at the service on behalf of our government and Samoan community.Command Sergeant Major Falaniko delivered his son’s eulogy and retired First Sergeant Saipan Teal, who is a very close friend of the family, also spoke.Mr. Nik Pula spoke on behalf of the families to thank the crowd for attending.”
“During my remarks, I recognized Paramount Chief Galea’i, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior David Cohen, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs Nik Pula, Pastor Meki To’alepai, and members of our Samoan Congregation in the Washington, DC area who were among the many Samoans that attended.I concluded my remarks with the singing of ‘Lota nu’u ua ou fanau ai’ and the Samoan Congregation sang ‘Faafetai i le Atua.’”
“The initial plans were for the funeral services to be held at the Old Post Chapel on FortMyer which has been the worship place and home for the Samoan Congregation in the Washington, DC area since 1982.One day prior to the service, the location was moved to the Memorial Chapel in order to accommodate the over 400 hundred people that were in attendance.More than two-thirds of those that attended were military active and retired personnel including several sons and daughters of Samoa who traveled from out of state and from the local area.”
“The processional motorcade through the ArlingtonCemetery was awe-inspiring.About one hundred cars were in the motorcade and anyone who saw it would have thought it was a VIP funeral procession,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.“At the gravesite, General Flowers presented Jonathan’s mother with the U.S. flag that covered her son’s casket.Jonathan’s father stood at salute.A gun salute and the sounding of the bugle signaled the end of the ceremony and time of burial.”
“All in all, it was the most impressive funeral I have ever witnessed for a young Private who had only deployed to Iraq in August of this year.This is what makes Jonathan’s story special.Today, the White House called my office and requested the phonetic pronunciation of CSM Falaniko’s full name.The President of the United States intends to mention Jonathan and his father in an upcoming speech, maybe during tomorrow’s Veterans’ Day services at the ArlingtonNationalCemetery.”
“At the request of CSM Falaniko, I have reserved 8 tickets for the family to attend this special event to be held tomorrow, November 11, 2003, at the ANC.Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a Republican Senator from Texas and a dear friend of mine, also called my office to request the pronunciation of Private Falaniko’s name.She, too, was touched by his story and intends to pay tribute to the family.”
“This Veterans’ Day, let us also pay tribute to Private Jonathan Falaniko.Let us also remember Specialist Farao Kevin Letufuga and every other veteran of American Samoa who has died in the service of our country.On this solemn occasion, may we also remember our active duty service members and may we never forget the sacrifices they are making so that you and I and future generations may live in peace,” the Congressman concluded.