Messages of gratitude and sorrow for 1st Lt. Jason Togi
"I owe my life, and the lives of my soldiers to him"
The actions of 1st Lt. Jason Togi and his team that resulted in saving the lives of other U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan have been praised by another American soldier who was there, in comments posted on Samoa News online.
It was a heroic act that claimed the life of the American Samoa native.
As reported earlier this week by Samoa News, 24-year 1st Lt. Togi of Fagasa was killed over the weekend in Afghanistan, according to his father, who added that his son had been deployed July 4th.
Yesterday morning the U.S. Defense Department issued an official statement confirming the death, saying that 1st Lt. Togi died Aug. 26, in Hasan Karez, Afghanistan, “of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device”. (Aug. 26, Afghanistan time)
He was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. A phone message left with the Public Affairs Office in Fort Hood seeking additional military background information on 1st Lt. Togi was not returned as of press time. Three more phone calls to them went straight to voice mail.
Several people, many of them off-island, posted messages of condolence about the fallen Toa o Samoa and one of those messages came from an Army Lieutenant, who said, “I was in the convoy when this accident occurred. LT Togi and his men were clearing the way for my soldiers and many other soldiers to move unharmed along the road. I owe my life and the lives of my soldiers to him. A true hero always leading from the front. RIP Brother .”
Another message came from Staff Sgt. Tommy Tajalle, with the Bravo Company 554th Engineer Battalion and an instructor with the Engineer Officer Basic Leader Course (EBOLC) in Fort Leonerd Wood, Missouri.
“I had the opportunity to train and instruct this fine Engineer Lieutenant. Myself being from the islands - Guam - I sympathize for his family and the Samoan community for their loss of a fine young man and even more so a fine Engineer SAPPER. My condolences [sic],” he said.
Dr. Roger J. Best, Dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, told Samoa News via e-mail on Wednesday that ”Jason was a graduate of our program in Criminal Justice and also completed our ROTC program, where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 2011.”
The university's Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Dr. Gregg W. Etter Sr., describes 1st Lt. Togi as a good student.
“I had Jason in class. Jason was a great young man and very proud to be in the U.S. Army. He was a good student and was always very pleasant in class. Jason always had a smile for everyone,” Etter said via e-mail yesterday morning. “He was also very proud to be from Samoa and wrote a great paper about the justice system in Samoa. He will be missed by us all.”
According to the university, its president will be sending on official message of condolence to the Togi family.
1st Lt. Togi and his wife of less than a year have been stationed in Kileen, Texas and he would work out at Lions Club Park Gym, which is also in Killeen. Sony Randle from the gym described the soldier’s passing as “terrible”.
“Jason and his friend would come into my gym and workout. I can't believe this, my heart is broken for his family. This man was good person, he was admired by many people here in Killeen. I am sad for his family,” Randle said in a message posted on Samoa News online.
“I pray for those who have lost this brave man from their lives. My prayers go out to Jason's family and friends. My regards, to Jason's Family,” she added.
Congressman Faleomavaega Eni received yesterday morning the official Pentagon notification about 1st Lt. Togi’s death and said he was “deeply saddened” upon receiving the notice.
“This is a tragic moment for the Togi family and all of American Samoa losing another of our own sons,” he said in a statement and noted that 1st Lt. Togi is the 18th of our Toa o Samoa “who have given the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan for their love for their families and this great nation.”
He described 1st Lt. Togi as an honorable young man who served his country well and who was dedicated to his family, church, and village, and, importantly, devoted to God.
“His passing reminds us of the constant danger our sons and daughters in the Armed Forces face every day in their commitment and devotion to protect our everyday freedom,” he said. “We must continue to pray for them and their families as they proudly serve in many parts of the world.”
He offered his heartfelt sympathies and condolences to 1st Lt. Togi’s wife, Ana, his parents, Alipapa and Angela, and especially his family and friends in both Samoas.
“As we mourn the loss of a great soldier, a husband, a son, a brother, a nephew, a friend, may the Lord comfort you during this time. His memory will remain in our hearts forever,” Faleomavaega said.
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