WASHINGTON, D.C.—AT FALEOMAVAEGA’S REQUEST, HAWAII AIR NATIONAL GUARD TO BRING AMERICAN SAMOA’S TROOPS HOMEONSUNDAY APRIL 17, 2005
Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that at his insistence the Department of Defense has agreed to provide military transport to bring American Samoa’s troops home.The troops will depart Hickam Air Force base on Sunday April 17, 2005 at and arrive in American Samoa at .American Samoa’s troops have been serving in Iraq for more than a year and returned to Hawaii three weeks ago.
“Only yesterday I learned that our troops have been stuck in Hawaii for three weeks after serving in Iraq for more than a year,” the Congressman said.“Like any soldier who has been away from his/her family for a year, our soldiers want to be reunited with their families.”
“For this reason, I contacted the military to determine why it has taken so long to get the paperwork done to release our soldiers and provide them airfare to American Samoa.Hawaiian Air flights have left every Monday and Friday for three weeks but, as a result of military delays, American Samoa’s troops have not been on board.”
“In order to make sure that our troops can be reunited with their families as soon as possible and also so that they can attend Flag Day celebrations, I asked the military to provide an aircraft to bring our soldier’s home,” Faleomavaega said.“I am pleased to announce that the Hawaii Air National Guard answered my call and has agreed to provide a KC135 Tanker to fly our troops to American Samoa this Sunday.”
“In a letter dated April 15, 2005, the Honorable Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, authorized me to escort our troops home and in separate correspondence the Department of Defense approved the request.At this time, I want to thank the crew which has been assigned to fly us including Lt Col Willie Benton, Aircraft Commander; 1Lt Ryan Iwasaki, Co-Pilot; SSgt Jamie Oliveros, Room Operator; SSgt Matt Lewis, Pax Handler; CMSgt Dennis Mishima, Crew Chief; TSgt Robert Tokuda, Crew Chief; SSgt Robert Rhoades, Avionics Specialist.I also want to thank Mr. Jim Townsend of the Hawaii Air National Guard for organizing all of this.The soldiers and their families appreciate this very much.”
“Above all, I want to thank American Samoa’s troops for their service to our country.As a Vietnam Veteran, I am proud of our soldiers for completing their mission and I am honored to escort them home,” the Congressman concluded.