Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he joined with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and included his remarks in a special section of the Congressional Record to honor our fallen heroes and to pay tribute to our current military men and women who are serving our nation in a time of war.
“I especially want to thank American Samoa’s warriors for the sacrifices they have made so that you and I and future generations may live in peace,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “American Samoa’s sons and daughters have served in record number in every U.S. military engagement from WWII to present operations in our war against terrorism.”
“Our active duty service members are also serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In March of this year, over 65 soldiers from American Samoa’s Army Reserve Unit were deployed to Iraq and recently we received word that other units from American Samoa will soon follow.”
“Last year, American Samoa lost two young warriors to the war in Iraq. In August 2003, Specialist Farao Kevin Letufuga died in Mosul, Iraq and it was with heavy hearts that Command Sergeant Major Iuniasolua Savusa and I accompanied his body home. Specialist Letufuga served as a member of the 101st Airborne Division. He is the son of Mr. Fetineia’i and Siniva Letufuga of Aoloau, American Samoa.”
“On October 27, 2003, Private Jonathan I. Falaniko was killed in Baghdad, Iraq in a Rocket Propelled Grenade attack. Twenty-year old Jonathan Falaniko had been in the U.S. Army for less than 6 months. He attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in May 2003 and was deployed to Iraq in August 2003. Private Falaniko was then assigned to the 70th Engineer Battalion under the 1st Armored Division, Engineers Brigade of which his father, Ioakimo Falaniko, was the Command Sergeant Major and the most senior enlisted soldier.”
“CSM Ioakimo Falaniko has been serving with distinction in the U.S. Army for over 26 years and is still serving in Iraq. CSM Falaniko is from the village of Amanave, American Samoa and his wife, Maliana, is from Aua. Their son was laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Arlington on Friday November 7, 2003. I was privileged to be invited by the Falaniko family to speak at PVT Falaniko’s services. It was a very solemn and inspiring service that was also attended by Lieutenant General Robert Flowers, Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Jack Tilley.”
“In Samoan culture, it is customary to make speeches so that for generations to come the name of our fallen heroes will not be forgotten,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “This is why I am pleased that we are observing a moment of silence today and are reserving a special section of the Congressional Record for Members to honor fallen soldiers from their districts and to offer their thoughts on Memorial Day. In remembrance of SPC Letufuga and PVT Falaniko, I rise to say that these two young men lived and died honorably as true Samoan warriors. They gave their lives so that you and I may live in freedom.”
“Across America, many others have also died while protecting our nation and today I pay special tribute to them. To those who have lost their sons and daughters and husbands and wives, I say let us honor their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice to bring about peace and freedom in a troubled world.”
“To our veterans and current service members, and especially to American Samoa’s Reserve unit now serving in Iraq, I would like to close by saying I am proud of you. As a Vietnam Veteran, I commend you for your courage and I thank you for your service to our country. May God bless you and may God bless America,” the Congressman concluded.