Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that on January 27, 2006 he personally met with Major General Robert Lee and Brigadier John Ma regarding the status of American Samoa’s soldiers returning from Iraq. General Ma also arranged for the Congressman to have a full military briefing at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii. The briefing was provided under the command of Colonel Dennis Taga, Commander of the 1101st GSU.
Brigadier General John Ma of the 9th Regional Support Command, LTC Colbert Low (Battalion Commander, 100th BN 442 IN), MAJ Michael Peeters (Battalion Executive Officer, 100th BN, 442nd IN), CSM Harold Estabrooks (Battalion Command Sergeant Major, 100th BN, 442nd IN), and LTC Howard Sugai (Public Affairs Officer for the 9th Regional Support Command) attended the briefing at which SGM Hiraki of the 1101st GSU reported on the status of American Samoa’s soldiers.
“As of January 26, 2006, 117 soldiers have returned to American Samoa from Iraq,” Faleomavaega said. “A remaining 70 are in Honolulu being out-processed. Of these 70, twenty-five need further medical attention. 26 are going active which requires that they fill out additional paperwork before they can return to American Samoa. 7 are in transition. And some have additional processes they must complete because they are married with dependents.”
“As a result of these varying factors, our soldiers will not all out-process at the same time meaning some soldiers may be ready to return to American Samoa this week while others will not be out-processed for three or four more weeks. Therefore,
we have determined that it is in the best interest of the soldiers and their families if each returns home as his/her out-processing is completed and as Hawaiian Air flights are available. Otherwise, some soldiers will have to wait unnecessarily to be reunited with their families.”
“I think it is important for our people to know that Major General Robert Lee stood prepared to offer up a plane for 70 soldiers but it is just not possible to fly only 10 or 20 soldiers when the aircraft seats 200. For this reason, our remaining soldiers will be returning on commercial flights not in a group of 70 but individually or in small groups of 5-10 based on the rotation of their out-processing.”
“Brigadier General John Ma has informed me that a ceremony has been planned for our Army Reservists on March 11, 2006 to honor those who have served. No matter what, I will return to American Samoa at that time to welcome our heroes home. For now, I thank our military men and women and their families for the great sacrifice they have made so that you and I and generations to come may live in peace. I also thank Major General Bob Lee, Brigadier General John Ma, Colonel Taga and his staff for their dedication and commitment to our soldiers. I extend to them my deepest appreciation and I look forward to welcoming our soldiers home,” the Congressman concluded.