Congressman Faleomavaega is pleased to announce that Chief Warrant Officer Two Nicholas L. Punimata was recently honored by the U.S. Army with the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. CW2 Punimata was recognized by the Army, along with 23 other Army officers, for their outstanding leadership skills at a ceremony held at the Pentagon on May 23.
The award is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Army and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and is given annually to company grade officers in the Active Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard who exhibit extraordinary leadership abilities and embody the ideals embraced by the famous General MacArthur: Duty, Honor, Country.
This year’s awards program also included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery, a visit to Congress, and briefings and discussions with senior Army officials. Mr. Punimata was selected from among his peers and co-recipients of the General MacArthur Award to lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the wreath-laying ceremony held at the Arlington National Cemetery. Such a high honor is afforded only to a few people – it is normally reserved for the top brass in the military and VIPs.
Each of the award recipients was presented a 15-pound bronze bust of General MacArthur presented by General Eric K. Shinseki, the Army’s Chief of Staff and Mr. William Sherman Hull, a member of the Board of Directors of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation.
“I am very pleased that General Shinseki made a special mention and recognition of Mr. Nicholas Punimata during his remarks as the first ever Warrant Officer in the Army to receive the General MacArthur award,” Faleomavaega said.
“It is also my understanding that Mr. Punimata is the first Samoan to receive this prestigious award as well as to receive the honor of laying the wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier and that is something to be proud of,” Faleomavaega continued.
“Needless to say, Mr. Punimata has set new standards and milestones for many soldiers in the military, especially those of Samoan to follow. He truly is among the ‘best of the best’ in the Army,” Faleomavaega said.
CW2 Punimata is currently serving as Commander of Special Forces Operational (Green Beret) Detachment Alpha 151, B-Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Fort Lewis, Washington. He was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer One in 1996 and to Chief Warrant Officer Two in 1998.
Mr. Nicholas Punimata joined the Army in 1982. During his 19 years of service in the Army, he has received numerous assignments requiring major responsibilities. To name a few, in 1983, while assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment, he participated in Operation Urgent Fury on the island of Grenada. In 1989 as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, he participated in the airborne assault on Rio Hato Airfield, Republic of Panama during Operation Just Cause. While assigned as a detachment member with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Special Forces Operations Detachment Alpha, their missions are fully immersed in the accomplishment of the joint Special Operations Forces (SOF) core missions – which are constantly evolving in response to political, military, and technological considerations as well as other considerations around the world.
Mr. Punimata is married to his wife of 15 years, the former Sharon M. Traxler of Nampa, Idaho. They have one son named, Nu’uese (15), and two daughters named Eki (12) and Samalaulu (11).
Mr. Nicholas Punimata’s parents are Nu’uese Punimata from Utulei, formerly Tax Manager and Disclosure Officer at the American Samoa Department of Treasury, and Matamulisesula Punimata of Olosega who is currently Director of Health Education in the Public Health Division of the American Samoa Department of Health. The family now resides in Fogagogo, American Samoa.
Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Punimata holding tight to his 15-pound brass bust of General Douglas MacArthur award while being congratulated by Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki during a ceremony at the Pentagon on May 23.
Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Punimata is joined by his wife, Sharon, and father, Nu’uese Punimata, after receiving his General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award from Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki.