SAMOA: Home of America's bravest, the Toa O Samoa

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BLESSED: Amidst the vast Pacific Ocean, Samoa's treasured islands of Tutuila ma Manu'a.

***This month, Amerika Samoa celebrated 116 years since it became a part of the United States of America. American Samoa recorded the highest number of U.S. Army recruits out of all the Army recruiting stations in the world in 2014.

"The figures are in and the numbers definitely prove that American Samoa produces committed young men and women who are willing to die in defense of the freedoms we so richly enjoy," writer Blue Chen reported in the Samoa News Sept. 16, 2014. American Samoa's U.S. Army Recruiting Station topped "production out of the 885 Army recruiting stations and centers under the United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), which includes all regions representing the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Korea, Japan, and Europe," Chen noted.

U.S. Army Sgt. Raymond Sasa Seva'aetasi of Leone, American Samoa, is one of the many men and women from American Samoa who dedicate their lives to serving the U.S. in uniform. He was killed April 11, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq. This article was published May 10, 2007 in the Samoa News in American Samoa. It has been re-printed on tautalatala.com by permission of Samoa News. This is a story of Samoa. This is a story of America. This is a story of our beloved Toa O Samoa. I went to school with Raymond, at ASCC in Mapusaga, American Samoa. Rest in love and peace Raymond. E le galo oe ma lau tautua. <3

TERRITORY MOURNS DEATH OF A SOLDIER; A SON SEEKS HIS DAD

(HONOLULU--TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016)--Seated beside an empty grave, two-year-old Talimaitalosaga Seva’aetasi stared at the line of soldiers as they waited to escort his father’s casket from the black hearse, dragging a purple stuffed animal around as aunties whispered his name.

“Tali,” one called softly. “Tali,” another called. “Tali,” a third called.

But the little boy did not respond. Instead, he sat and stared, stood up, walked around, long straight hair slick with sweat from the four-hour long service that preceded Sgt. Raymond Seva’aetasi’s burial. His eyes remained glued on the casket covered with the US flag that would later be presented to his mother Maugaosa’a Angel.

“Daddy,” he whispered to himself. “Daddy.”

Tali stayed close as reservists slowly carried his dad’s body to its final resting place beside his childhood home in Leone.

Tali watched as the soldiers methodically lifted and folded the US flag while his older sister Nakaysia, four, was held in the arms of a family member.

Three rifle shots pierced the Leone air, the playing of “Taps,” followed — telltale signs that a hero was finally home.

Yesterday, family and friends bid farewell to Raymond, 29, who was killed in Baghdad, Iraq April 11, the twelfth soldier of Samoan ancestry to be killed in the US-led war in Iraq. Raymond was the son of Tuala R. Seva’aetasi, a retired serviceman from Pago Pago and Leata S. Ameperosa of Leone.

Hundreds packed the Leone Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa chapel yesterday to honor the soldier who died during his second deployment to Iraq.

Family, childhood friends, and even a school principal remembered him as a humble, caring, friendly, loving, respectful person who made loyal friends wherever he went.

“He was my better half,” said twin sister Regina L. S. West who was born 15 minutes before Raymond on Aug. 10. 1977 at the Ft. Carson Army Hospital in Colorado.

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