Congressman Faleomavaega today expressed his gratitude and sincere appreciation for the 1st Armored Division’s decision to honor Private Jonathan Falaniko, a son of American Samoa who was killed in Baghdad, Iraq by naming a house on the military’s Freedom Rest recreation compound as Pvt. Falaniko Inn.
“This is a tremendous honor in remembrance of a fallen hero, Private Jonathan Falaniko, who sacrificed his life so we may live in peace and freedom,” Faleomavaega said. “This action by the Army, especially by the 1st Armored Division, Engineer Brigade, speaks loudly about their appreciation for Jonathan as well as their admiration for his father, Command Sergeant Major Ioakimo Falaniko."
According to Command Sergeant Major Ioakimo Falaniko, who returned to Iraq after the funeral services for his son at the Arlington National Cemetery, the newly renovated house is in a compound that was formerly an officer’s club for the Iraqi Special Republican Guard. The house was also allegedly the home of the Iraqi officer who ran the officer’s club.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ioakimo Falaniko was quoted in the Stars and Stripes as saying, “This is the first time these guys saw tears in my eyes.” The article also noted that the event was attended by both Brigadier General Mark Hertling, Assistant Commander of the 1st Armored Division, and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq.
“I was very pleased to hear from Command Sergeant Major Falaniko about this wonderful news, especially at a time when he and our men and women serving in Iraq are constantly faced with life and death situations each and every day. He was very moved and humbled by what his division has done to honor his son. I am thankful that his command has recognized the commitment and dedication that Jonathan and the Falaniko family have made to the Army.”
“As we come to the end of another year, let us once again not forget our soldiers who are serving our country here and abroad. Let us remember especially those who are serving in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other hostile areas around the world, that they would soon be able to return home safely to their families and loved ones,” concluded Faleomavaega.
Photo 1: Command Sgt. Major Ioakimo Falaniko of the 1st Armored Division, Engineer Brigade (left), and Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, Assistant Commander of the 1st Armored Division (2nd from right) during the official ceremony that named a house in the Freedom Rest soldier relaxation compound as Pvt. Falaniko Inn.
Photo 2: CSM Ioakimo Falaniko at the main entrance of the Pvt. Falaniko Inn.