1Lt. Jason Togi of Fagasa killed in Afghan war
American Samoa native, U.S. Army First Lt. Jason Togi of Fagasa and a 2006 graduate of Samoana High School was killed in the Afghanistan conflict over the weekend.
His father, Alepapa Togi told Samoa News that specific details involving the death of his son are unknown at this time. However, he said, the family received a phone call around 4a.m. yesterday from his son’s wife, Ana who relayed that her husband was killed in the Afghanistan conflict when a bomb exploded next to a vehicle he was in.
As of yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Defense Department had yet to issue an official announcement on this latest military casualty of the Afghanistan war.
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni is aware of the soldier’s death and is expected to issue an official statement soon.
Alepapa recalled being told by Ana that First Lt. Togi went out on a mission along with his command on Sunday (American Samoa time) and that Ana had spoken to her husband before he went on the mission.
Ana was shocked to hear a knock at her door at home in Texas around 1a.m. yesterday with military officials relaying the sad news, said Alepapa.
“My 24-year old son never made it to the hospital following the explosion,” said Alepapa, in a phone interview yesterday afternoon. He also said his son is the fourth of six children.
First Lt. Togi was deployed to Afghanistan on July 4th this year and met up with his older brother Faigalotu, who is in the military and was finishing up his tour of Afghanistan, said Alepapa, who added that Jason was on his first deployment and was married to his wife for less than a year.
“I miss my son,” he said, adding that his son is one of those individuals who never answers back to his parents. “He is always happy and smiling. Our church members and our church minister in Fagasa will miss my son as well.”
He said his son is also a person who offers advise and recommendations when there are problems in the family. “He speaks his mind, he offers advice, and wants to bring peace to everyone,” the grieving father said. “He even gives advice to others who cause problems or troubles. He was like the oldest child. He hates seeing a life wasted away on bad things, instead of doing good deeds.”
“He is very smart among the children. He loves his church, the Sunday school program and he was part of the choir when he left for off island to attend college and then to the Army,” said Alepapa.
Jason Togi attended the American Samoa Community College — at the time he was already in the Army Reserve — but didn’t complete the two-year program. Instead he traveled to Missouri where he attended a community college and obtained his AA degree. He later attended and graduated from Wentworth Military Academy College where he received a Bachelors degree, according to his father.
Alepapa and his wife left last night for the mainland heading to Dover Air Force Base to discuss with the military the return of his son’s remains from Afghanistan as well as funeral arrangements, which will be announced at a later date.
The couple were at Faleomavaega’s local office, yesterday afternoon, which was helping them obtain paperwork for their trip to the U.S.
According to Samoa News archive records, Jason Togi was a 12-year old student at Leatele Elementary School in Fagasa when he won the 2002 Geography Bee in the territory and went on to Washington D.C. to represent the Pacific Territories in the national competition.
This was confirmed by Mrs. Evelyn Lili’o-Satele, who was Leatele school principal at the time. “Jason was a great, wonderful and dedicated individual. You knew he wanted to succeed and he had the respect of everyone at school,” she said yesterday afternoon in a phone interview. “He showed tremendous leadership quality even at that age.”
Lili’o-Satele recalled that Jason was “very involved in our native garden project” in which the school had a partnership with the National Park of American Samoa and students learned about native and invasive trees. She said students would go on hikes and identify these types of trees.
“Jason was just a wonderful one man and very good,” she added.
According to Samoa News’ count, First Lt. Jason Togi is the third Samoan soldier to die in the Afghanistan war.
Samoa News will update this story once more information is received from the Defense Department and others.
Samoa News extends our sincere condolences to the grieving family