|August 22, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA CONGRATULATES SERGEANTS MAJOR ILAOA, TUPUOLA, AND SUIAUNOA ON THEIR RETIREMENTS FROM THE U.S. MARINE CORPS|
Faleomavaega announced today that on August 15, 2003 at the Marine Corps
Base in Kaneohe, Hawaii, a retirement ceremony took place for Sergeants
Major Filipo Lokeni Ilaoa, Tunu I. Tupuola, and Tusipasi Suiaunoa.
The three Sergeants Major were honored for their 30 years of service in
the United States Marine Corps.
Filipo Ilaoa, from Leone village, was Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe, Hawaii with jurisdiction over a community of 15,000 people. Tunu Tupuola, also from Leone, was Sergeant Major of the 3rd Marine Regiment in the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe where he commanded about 4,000 marines. Tusipasi Suiaunoa, from Fagasa village, was Sergeant Major of Headquarters Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific at Camp Smith, where he commanded 2,000 marines that make up the Corps’ largest deployable headquarters element.
In attendance at the retirement ceremony were many family members and friends of the retirees and several dignitaries from American Samoa including Governor Togiola Tulafono and First Lady Mary, Speaker Matagi McMoore and his wife Purinisese, and Congressman Faleomavaega. Congressman Faleomavaega served as master of ceremony and spoke in honor of the Sergeants Major.
“To have three Samoans from American Samoa who joined the U.S. Marine Corps together, then went their separate ways in their military careers, and 30 years later attained the same rank and then retired together in the same place, is one of the most unique stories in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“It is a story of endurance and determination. Each achieved the highest rank attainable by an enlisted member. Each put their lives on the line again and again in defense of our nation and I want them to know that they are an inspiration to our Samoan people and especially to young Samoans who may be contemplating a career in the Marine Corps or other branches of our Armed Forces.”
“Their dedication and service is truly admirable,” the Congressman continued, “and I am pleased that more than 500 people attended the retirement ceremony held in their honor. More than 1,000 also showed their support by attending the retirement banquet. The Commanding General of the Marine Corps Airbase in Kaneohe was also in attendance and I am deeply appreciative of his sensitivity and support of our island traditions.”
“As someone who has served in the military, I believe we also owe a special thanks to the families of our Sergeants Major. They have also made tremendous sacrifices and for this they are to be commended. On a personal note, I want Sergeants Major Ilaoa, Tupuola and Suiaunoa to know that I was honored to be with them on the historic occasion of their retirement and I am proud of their accomplishments. I wish them and their families the very best and I thank them for inspiring each of us to overcome disadvantage and turn conflict into victory,” the Congressman concluded.
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