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OBAMA PAYS TRIBUTE TO FALLEN SERVICE MEMBERS AT ARLINGTON

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) -- President Barack Obama saluted Americans who died in battle Monday, saying the country must "never stop trying to fully repay them" for their sacrifices and noting the first Memorial Day in 14 years without U.S. forces involved in a major ground war.

Speaking under sunny skies to some 5,000 people on the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, Obama called the burial place "more than a final resting place for fallen heroes"

"It is a reflection of America itself. A reflection of our history, the wars we've waged for democracy, the peace we've laid to preserve it," he said. "It is a reflection of our diversity, of people from different races and creeds who fought for the ideals that bind us as one nation."

His appearance was an annual rite for presidents at the site of the national cemetery nestled among the verdant hills overlooking the Potomac River. It came with the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan reduced to about 10,000, from a peak of over 100,000. Monday's tribute also took place against a backdrop of the increasingly complex U.S. effort to help Iraq defeat a surging Islamic State extremist group that has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, capturing Ramadi there and taking Palmyra in neighboring Syria.

Of Afghanistan, he said "we'll continue to bring them home and reduce our forces further, down to an embassy presence by the end of the year."

"We honor the more than 2,200 patriots who made the sacrifice in Afghanistan," he said. Earlier Monday, troops still stationed in Afghanistan paused for a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives in the war-torn country.

The Arlington observance was among a host of Memorial Day events across the country featuring parades, picnics and tributes. Presaging Monday's solemn event at Arlington was the roar of motorcycle engines throughout the capital Sunday as thousands of bikers saluted veterans with the Rolling Thunder's "Ride for Freedom." That was followed by a concert of patriotic music Sunday evening and Obama's private breakfast at the White House Monday morning with representatives of veteran and military family service organizations, along with the Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives and Sons and Daughters in Touch. A Memorial Day parade was set for downtown Washington Monday afternoon.

North Dakota marked the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the state's Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan. Gov. Jack Dalrymple directed all state agencies to fly the U.S. and state flags at half-mast, a practice put in place across the country.

Obama traveled by motorcade in late morning from the White House to Arlington and began his outing by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He bowed his head briefly and listened with others to the playing of "Taps."

"Most Americans don't fully see, don't fully understand, the sacrifices of the 1 percent of the Americans who serve in this all-volunteer force," Obama said in his speech. "Our Gold Star families, our military families, our veterans, they know this intimately."

"Whenever I meet with our "Gold Star" families, as I did this morning, I see that their hearts are still broken, but still full of love," he said. "In the face of unspeakable loss, they represent the best of who we are."

Obama said the markers at Arlington signify the blessings enjoyed by "so many Americans."

"It's a debt we can never fully repay," he said, "but a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay."

Speaking ahead of Obama, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, "We, your fellow Americans, lack the words to describe what you feel today because try as we may, and try as we do, we can never fully know. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us."

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1 dead as plane carrying Marines crashes in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) -- A U.S. military plane crashed and caught fire as it tried to land during training exercises in Hawaii, killing one Marine, injuring 21 other people and sending black smoke billowing into the sky.

Their injuries ranged from critical to minor, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Capt. Alex Lim said.

The tilt-rotor aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, had a "hard-landing mishap" around 11:40 a.m. Sunday at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement.

The MV-22 Osprey had 22 people aboard - 21 Marines and one Navy corpsman assigned to the unit, spokesman Capt. Brian Block said in an email.

The unit is based at Camp Pendleton in California and is in Hawaii for about a week of training. The Osprey was being used for training at the time of the crash, the cause of which was under investigation, Lim said.

Kimberly Hynd said she was hiking the popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail and could see three Osprey aircraft performing maneuvers from her vantage point in the hills above the base.

She noticed them kicking up dirt but then saw smoke and fire. Hynd, who estimated she was 2 to 3 miles away, didn't hear the sound of a large crash.

"It looked like they were doing some sort of maneuver or formation - and so I was taking pictures of it because usually you can't see them that close up," Hynd said.

Donald Gahit said he looked outside his house after hearing sirens pass by and saw smoke rising from the air station.

"At first I thought it was clouds, but it was moving fast and it was pretty dark," the Waimanalo resident said.

Ospreys may be equipped with radar, lasers and a missile defense system, and each can carry 24 Marines into combat.

Built by Boeing Co. and Bell, a unit of Textron Inc., the Osprey program was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 Marines in 2000.

The aircraft have since been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some Osprey also are helping with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

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Leone Mother's Day Farm Fair

all photos: Tony Gasu
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16th Annual Steinlager I’a Lapo’a Game Fishing Tournament

photos: Tony Gasu & Jeff Hayner
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Gaoteote: “We begin to learn about freedom and justice” by serving in the military

fili@samoanews.com

“It’s a great day to be a solider. It’s a great day to be a military veteran. And it’s a great time to be in American Samoa,” declared Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, a military veteran, at the start of his Flag Day Address last Friday.
 
Gaoteote — the keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony dedicated to the U.S. military, both veterans and those in active duty — then called for all veterans, active duty personnel and reservists present at Veterans Memorial Stadium to stand. They did so, and were applauded by the crowd. 
 
On behalf of all veterans as well as active duty military personnel, Gaoteote expressed appreciation to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and the territorial government for honoring them on the 115th anniversary of the Flag Day ceremony.
 
“While we are only servants, that is our life — to serve and protect, with the goal for all Samoans to live freely,” he said. “What can we say about this special honor bestowed upon us... except to say, ‘thank you’.”
 
As an Army veteran, Gaoteote said that he is humbled and honored to represent all veterans and active duty members. He said that he owes this honor to so many people and he acknowledged and thanked Samoan fathers who served on the territory’s “first home grown Army - the Fitafita Guard”.
 
According to the Senate President, it was their example and courage that “put the thought of being an Army soldier in a young Samoan boy’s mind” and shared a brief look at his personal life and what the military has done for him and his family, noting that the military “became a reality for this one reason — I had a family to provide for. My parents and my family in Samoa needed my support and I had started a family of my own. “
 
 Gaoteote said the “military became the means for me to support my family” and at the time, he as an 18-year-old Samoan young man, didn’t know that joining the military “was going to be the opportunity to learn and practice the real meaning of honor, respect, courage, and perseverance.”
 
He stated that as Samoans, “we know honor [because] we... honor our family, our village and our island”. Additionally, “we learn to become courageous in our own decisions and our actions”.
 
“When we enlist [in the military], we’re sworn to uphold the military oath, we wore our uniform with pride, we’re taught to salute the flag. That is where we begin to learn and understand about freedom, liberty and justice,” he pointed out.
 
And when sent overseas to places like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, “we  realized the mission was and always is to protect those ideals —freedom, liberty and justice, so that our children will grow up in a free country.”
 
Gaoteote pointed out that veterans will not deny the fact that “it was an honor to serve under the American flag. We served in the past, our sons and daughters are serving today, and our grand children will serve tomorrow” in the U.S. Armed Forces.
 
“For me, my grandson — third generation — is now at West Point” U.S. Military Academy, said Gaoteote, who then paid respect “to the real heroes”—  those who died while serving in the military.
 
He identified by name seven individuals — three fallen soldiers of the Vietnam war and four in the Iraq war, “these are just a few names, and yet there are so many of them… the fallen heroes, who left this world with honor, dignity, and respect.”
 
In closing he again called for all veterans, reservists and active duty personnel to rise, as the crowd once again gave them resounding applause.
 
OTHER EVENTS
 
Prior to Gaoteote’s address, the governor gave special remarks honoring veterans and current active duty personnel for their service and paying tribute to fallen Toa o Samoa as well as to their family members.
 
Also part of the program, was the official swearing in of former Sen. Mauga T. Asuega as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, administered by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. (Samoa News had previously reported that the swearing in had occurred  last Wednesday, but that event was, instead, Mauga signing documents  as Secretary of Samoan Affairs.) See Samoa News online edition for Saturday, Apr. 18 for details of the governor’s remarks.
 
After the speeches came the parade, or “pass in review” and the program was on time as scheduled, with the next event for the celebration the ‘siva and pese’.
 
The veterans group, which included family members, was the first on the malae as they performed both siva and pese for the crowd with assembled guests, many from off-island.
 
The villages of Olosega and Sili representing the Manu’a District for ‘siva’ was up next, followed by the villages of Masausi and Sailele representing the Western District, also with their ‘siva’.
 
The village of Nua & Seetaga, representing the Western District, was assigned “pese” only. The group had a one-minute special segment dedicated to fallen heroes, in which Public Works director Faleosina Voigt sang “America the Beautiful”.
 
The group then noted in their presentation, improvements made to roads on other parts of Tutuila — but not the roads in the Alataua county — which includes Nua & Seetaga.
 
They pointed out that roads are so bad in their county that a pregnant woman riding in a vehicle, would give birth before reaching the hospital, from the shaking of the car due to bad road conditions, and this brought laughter from the crowd.
 
They called on the Lolo Administration to make road improvements in the Fofo and Alataua counties. They also asked the government to look at improvements for the growing school enrollment at Alataua Elementary school, which covers all of Alataua County. They also called for a return by the Territorial Administration on Aging to the food voucher, instead of the current cooked food program.
 
The last group on the malae was the much anticipated performance by more than 100 students of the Don Bosco Technology school from Samoa. The group’s many fast moving dance actions brought applause and loud cheers from the crowd, many of whom showed up at the stadium to witness the performance by the all-male school.
 
In their pese, the group said they have heard that American Samoa is opening up a new cannery (referring to Samoa Tuna Processors Inc.,) and asked the territory to keep in mind the Don Bosco technical school, which has students who graduate in trades such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.
 
They also called on American Samoa to keep Samoa in mind and to share any benefits it receives from President Obama.
 
The final event of the day was the closing ceremony, which included the distribution of awards for the cricket tournament, although the amounts of their monetary prizes were not announced. Monetary gifts were also presented to groups who performed the siva and pese, but the amounts were also not made public, which has been the usual practice in the past.
 
There were special remarks by Samoa’s Speaker of Parliament, La’auli L. Polotaivao Fosi, speaking on behalf of Head of State Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the people and government of Samoa, expressing appreciation for the invitation to join our Flag Day celebration.
 
The last and final event for the 2015 Flag Day is the fautasi race, which has been postponed  twice, and is now scheduled to be held at 11a.m. today. Prizes for the race will be distributed later today. (See separate story on Fautasi race.)

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Gaoteote: “We begin to learn about freedom and justice” by serving in the military

fili@samoanews.com

“It’s a great day to be a solider. It’s a great day to be a military veteran. And it’s a great time to be in American Samoa,” declared Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, a military veteran, at the start of his Flag Day Address last Friday.
 
Gaoteote — the keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony dedicated to the U.S. military, both veterans and those in active duty — then called for all veterans, active duty personnel and reservists present at Veterans Memorial Stadium to stand. They did so, and were applauded by the crowd. 
 
On behalf of all veterans as well as active duty military personnel, Gaoteote expressed appreciation to Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and the territorial government for honoring them on the 115th anniversary of the Flag Day ceremony.
 
“While we are only servants, that is our life — to serve and protect, with the goal for all Samoans to live freely,” he said. “What can we say about this special honor bestowed upon us... except to say, ‘thank you’.”
 
As an Army veteran, Gaoteote said that he is humbled and honored to represent all veterans and active duty members. He said that he owes this honor to so many people and he acknowledged and thanked Samoan fathers who served on the territory’s “first home grown Army - the Fitafita Guard”.
 
According to the Senate President, it was their example and courage that “put the thought of being an Army soldier in a young Samoan boy’s mind” and shared a brief look at his personal life and what the military has done for him and his family, noting that the military “became a reality for this one reason — I had a family to provide for. My parents and my family in Samoa needed my support and I had started a family of my own. “
 
 Gaoteote said the “military became the means for me to support my family” and at the time, he as an 18-year-old Samoan young man, didn’t know that joining the military “was going to be the opportunity to learn and practice the real meaning of honor, respect, courage, and perseverance.”
 
He stated that as Samoans, “we know honor [because] we... honor our family, our village and our island”. Additionally, “we learn to become courageous in our own decisions and our actions”.
 
“When we enlist [in the military], we’re sworn to uphold the military oath, we wore our uniform with pride, we’re taught to salute the flag. That is where we begin to learn and understand about freedom, liberty and justice,” he pointed out.
 
And when sent overseas to places like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, “we  realized the mission was and always is to protect those ideals —freedom, liberty and justice, so that our children will grow up in a free country.”
 
Gaoteote pointed out that veterans will not deny the fact that “it was an honor to serve under the American flag. We served in the past, our sons and daughters are serving today, and our grand children will serve tomorrow” in the U.S. Armed Forces.
 
“For me, my grandson — third generation — is now at West Point” U.S. Military Academy, said Gaoteote, who then paid respect “to the real heroes”—  those who died while serving in the military.
 
He identified by name seven individuals — three fallen soldiers of the Vietnam war and four in the Iraq war, “these are just a few names, and yet there are so many of them… the fallen heroes, who left this world with honor, dignity, and respect.”
 
In closing he again called for all veterans, reservists and active duty personnel to rise, as the crowd once again gave them resounding applause.
 
OTHER EVENTS
 
Prior to Gaoteote’s address, the governor gave special remarks honoring veterans and current active duty personnel for their service and paying tribute to fallen Toa o Samoa as well as to their family members.
 
Also part of the program, was the official swearing in of former Sen. Mauga T. Asuega as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, administered by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. (Samoa News had previously reported that the swearing in had occurred  last Wednesday, but that event was, instead, Mauga signing documents  as Secretary of Samoan Affairs.) See Samoa News online edition for Saturday, Apr. 18 for details of the governor’s remarks.
 
After the speeches came the parade, or “pass in review” and the program was on time as scheduled, with the next event for the celebration the ‘siva and pese’.
 
The veterans group, which included family members, was the first on the malae as they performed both siva and pese for the crowd with assembled guests, many from off-island.
 
The villages of Olosega and Sili representing the Manu’a District for ‘siva’ was up next, followed by the villages of Masausi and Sailele representing the Western District, also with their ‘siva’.
 
The village of Nua & Seetaga, representing the Western District, was assigned “pese” only. The group had a one-minute special segment dedicated to fallen heroes, in which Public Works director Faleosina Voigt sang “America the Beautiful”.
 
The group then noted in their presentation, improvements made to roads on other parts of Tutuila — but not the roads in the Alataua county — which includes Nua & Seetaga.
 
They pointed out that roads are so bad in their county that a pregnant woman riding in a vehicle, would give birth before reaching the hospital, from the shaking of the car due to bad road conditions, and this brought laughter from the crowd.
 
They called on the Lolo Administration to make road improvements in the Fofo and Alataua counties. They also asked the government to look at improvements for the growing school enrollment at Alataua Elementary school, which covers all of Alataua County. They also called for a return by the Territorial Administration on Aging to the food voucher, instead of the current cooked food program.
 
The last group on the malae was the much anticipated performance by more than 100 students of the Don Bosco Technology school from Samoa. The group’s many fast moving dance actions brought applause and loud cheers from the crowd, many of whom showed up at the stadium to witness the performance by the all-male school.
 
In their pese, the group said they have heard that American Samoa is opening up a new cannery (referring to Samoa Tuna Processors Inc.,) and asked the territory to keep in mind the Don Bosco technical school, which has students who graduate in trades such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.
 
They also called on American Samoa to keep Samoa in mind and to share any benefits it receives from President Obama.
 
The final event of the day was the closing ceremony, which included the distribution of awards for the cricket tournament, although the amounts of their monetary prizes were not announced. Monetary gifts were also presented to groups who performed the siva and pese, but the amounts were also not made public, which has been the usual practice in the past.
 
There were special remarks by Samoa’s Speaker of Parliament, La’auli L. Polotaivao Fosi, speaking on behalf of Head of State Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the people and government of Samoa, expressing appreciation for the invitation to join our Flag Day celebration.
 
The last and final event for the 2015 Flag Day is the fautasi race, which has been postponed  twice, and is now scheduled to be held at 11a.m. today. Prizes for the race will be distributed later today. (See separate story on Fautasi race.)

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Lolo: Relationship with U.S. based on friendship, trust and wisdom

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga paid tribute to American Samoa’s military veterans as well as active duty service members in his special remarks at Friday’s 2015 Flag Day ceremony, marking the 115th year since American Samoa became a U.S territory.
 
The one-day Flag Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Stadium began on a nice breeze morning with the arrival of more than 2,000 people in groups, organizations and businesses coming to participate in the Flag Day parade.
 
Lolo pointed out that the Flag Day celebration bears a special significance and a special meaning to the people of American Samoa, because unlike other U.S. territories and insular areas, “the relationship fashioned by our forefathers was not caused by any act of aggression or any acquisition through annexation, but it was based and founded and formed on friendship, trust and wisdom.”
 
Additionally, it was  “based on our forefathers firm conviction that entrusting our islands to the United States will ensure that the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all generations in the territory will be nurtured and fully realized.”
 
Given this special meaning surrounding Flag Day, the governor said future generations will continue to commemorate this historical event of political transformation.
 
For this year’s celebration, he said it is dedicated to all the men and women of the Armed Forces and to all the veterans and their families “as a small token of our profound gratitude and appreciation for your unwavering sense of uncompromising service and selfless sacrifice. For some, it meant the loss of their lives.”
 
To those fallen heroes, Lolo said, “we have been overwhelming grateful and feel with tremendous pride for the respect and admiration that you have brought to our people for your immeasurable heroism [and] courage...”
 
Lolo went on to say that military veterans and active duty members have continued to preserve and sustain the legacy and the sprit of service and sacrifice epitomized by our forefathers during World War II with the establishment of the all Samoan Fitafita Guard unit in 1900.”
 
“The Vietnam war along with the other war battles in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world brought to bear the brutality of war, with so many of our men and women making the ultimate sacrifice of loosing their lives,” he said. “...Making the personal ultimate sacrifice did not diminish … this spirit of service and sacrifice.” along with the passionate inspiration to serve in the Armed Forces. This “demonstrates the patriotism of the people of American Samoa and reflects our commitment through the protection and preservation of the American ideals centered on the principle of guaranteeing life, liberty and justice for all Americans and the free people of the world,” he said.
 
To all the families of the Toa o Samoa who have made the ultimate sacrifice offering their lives to make the world safe, the governor said, “we acknowledge you and we thank you for the price you have to pay for the patriotism.”
 
Further, “we cannot phantom the pain and the scars etched in your hearts and soul, but we continue to pray that our merciful God will give you His peace that you will know that their lives was not given in vain...”
 
Speaking on behalf of the people of American Samoa, Lolo extended to Toa o Samoa, veterans and their family members the territory’s “profound gratitude, our gratefulness for your selfless service and sacrifice.”
 
According to the governor, many veterans have returned home to continue serving both the government and private sector. In his administration for example, Lolo said veterans hold key leadership positions in agencies such as Public Safety, Human Resources, Health Department, Homeland Security, Agriculture and other key offices in government.
 
And the governor identified another top government official, who is a veteran and that is Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga.
 
Two congratulatory Flag Day celebration messages were read as part of the program. The first came from Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Esther Kia’aina and the other from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Hawai’i. Gabbard noted in her message that she was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa.
 
As a twice-deployed Hawaii Army National Guard soldier, “I understand first hand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform and their families made to defend our freedom. Thank you for honoring their service and achievements today and always,” Gabbard said and expressed appreciation to Lolo for dedicating this year’s celebration to veterans and active duty members.
 
Also part of the program was the official swearing in of former Sen. Mauga T. Asuega as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, administered by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. (Samoa News had previously reported that he was sworn in earlier in the week, but that event was instead Mauga signing documents accepting the Secretary of Samoan Affairs post.)
 
See Monday’s edition on the Flag Day Address delivered by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, who is a military veteran.

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Lolo: Relationship with U.S. based on friendship, trust and wisdom

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga paid tribute to American Samoa’s military veterans as well as active duty service members in his special remarks at Friday’s 2015 Flag Day ceremony, marking the 115th year since American Samoa became a U.S territory.
 
The one-day Flag Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Stadium began on a nice breeze morning with the arrival of more than 2,000 people in groups, organizations and businesses coming to participate in the Flag Day parade.
 
Lolo pointed out that the Flag Day celebration bears a special significance and a special meaning to the people of American Samoa, because unlike other U.S. territories and insular areas, “the relationship fashioned by our forefathers was not caused by any act of aggression or any acquisition through annexation, but it was based and founded and formed on friendship, trust and wisdom.”
 
Additionally, it was  “based on our forefathers firm conviction that entrusting our islands to the United States will ensure that the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all generations in the territory will be nurtured and fully realized.”
 
Given this special meaning surrounding Flag Day, the governor said future generations will continue to commemorate this historical event of political transformation.
 
For this year’s celebration, he said it is dedicated to all the men and women of the Armed Forces and to all the veterans and their families “as a small token of our profound gratitude and appreciation for your unwavering sense of uncompromising service and selfless sacrifice. For some, it meant the loss of their lives.”
 
To those fallen heroes, Lolo said, “we have been overwhelming grateful and feel with tremendous pride for the respect and admiration that you have brought to our people for your immeasurable heroism [and] courage...”
 
Lolo went on to say that military veterans and active duty members have continued to preserve and sustain the legacy and the sprit of service and sacrifice epitomized by our forefathers during World War II with the establishment of the all Samoan Fitafita Guard unit in 1900.”
 
“The Vietnam war along with the other war battles in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world brought to bear the brutality of war, with so many of our men and women making the ultimate sacrifice of loosing their lives,” he said. “...Making the personal ultimate sacrifice did not diminish … this spirit of service and sacrifice.” along with the passionate inspiration to serve in the Armed Forces. This “demonstrates the patriotism of the people of American Samoa and reflects our commitment through the protection and preservation of the American ideals centered on the principle of guaranteeing life, liberty and justice for all Americans and the free people of the world,” he said.
 
To all the families of the Toa o Samoa who have made the ultimate sacrifice offering their lives to make the world safe, the governor said, “we acknowledge you and we thank you for the price you have to pay for the patriotism.”
 
Further, “we cannot phantom the pain and the scars etched in your hearts and soul, but we continue to pray that our merciful God will give you His peace that you will know that their lives was not given in vain...”
 
Speaking on behalf of the people of American Samoa, Lolo extended to Toa o Samoa, veterans and their family members the territory’s “profound gratitude, our gratefulness for your selfless service and sacrifice.”
 
According to the governor, many veterans have returned home to continue serving both the government and private sector. In his administration for example, Lolo said veterans hold key leadership positions in agencies such as Public Safety, Human Resources, Health Department, Homeland Security, Agriculture and other key offices in government.
 
And the governor identified another top government official, who is a veteran and that is Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga.
 
Two congratulatory Flag Day celebration messages were read as part of the program. The first came from Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Esther Kia’aina and the other from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Hawai’i. Gabbard noted in her message that she was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa.
 
As a twice-deployed Hawaii Army National Guard soldier, “I understand first hand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform and their families made to defend our freedom. Thank you for honoring their service and achievements today and always,” Gabbard said and expressed appreciation to Lolo for dedicating this year’s celebration to veterans and active duty members.
 
Also part of the program was the official swearing in of former Sen. Mauga T. Asuega as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, administered by Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. (Samoa News had previously reported that he was sworn in earlier in the week, but that event was instead Mauga signing documents accepting the Secretary of Samoan Affairs post.)
 
See Monday’s edition on the Flag Day Address delivered by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie, who is a military veteran.

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Video: 2015 Faigamea i le Tai race delayed, not cancelled

Everyone thankful no harm came to anyone yesterday
joy@samoanews.com

Captain of the Fealofani Samoa, Atuatasi “Jerry” Seigafo used the opportunity at the captains meeting held yesterday to thank the government of American Samoa and others who came to their rescue when their fautasi capsized out in the open waters yesterday morning, and he told those present, they are still "ready to race".

 

The highly anticipated race was cancelled yesterday after the Fealofani Samoa II capsized and the Matasaua took on water. Crew members were evacuated on to Lt. Governor Lemanu P. Mauga’s boat, which came to the rescue of the Matasaua crew.

At the captains meeting, held at the Office of Samoan Affairs at noon following the cancellation of the race, the Fautasi Committee yielded to the suggestion made by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and some of the Captains to hold the fautasi race on Saturday morning at 7a.m.

 

Some asked for the race to be held today, however the government leaders noted that Flag Day program events have been scheduled throughout the day, and any changes would cause problems, including a delay in the program.

 

Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, skipper for Don Bosco 200 told the captains gathering that if the race was to be held on Friday (today) the Don Bosco would not race, as they are also participating in the pese and siva, which is part of their invitation to attend the Flag Day festivities. She said there is no way that half of the school would participate in the siva and pese with the other half out in the ocean for the fautasi race.

 

Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau, skipper of the Fuao of Vatia, pointed out during the meeting that the Fautasi Committee contributed to the problems encountered yesterday, because they knew very well the tide was high, yet they kept on telling the captains to take the boats further out.

 

Skipper for Fealofani Samoa III, Atuatasi told Samoa News that they are very thankful that nothing tragic occurred and that his entire crew is accounted for — “ I am thankful to ASG and to those who helped us.”

 

Samoa News was on the “Sau Ia”, a boat owned by the Leala Peter Reid family, near the area where Fealofani Samoa III took on a lot of water and eventually capsized. The crew refused to abandon their boat, but many of them had to let go of their oars, which were eventually picked up by the police and others in the area.

 

Motusa Tuileama Nua, Matasaua’s skipper told Samoa News that this was an experience that he will never forget — “it was quite an experience.”

 

He told Samoa News that what happened was very disappointing, but they took on a lot of water when they were turning around. He was thankful for the Lt Governor, ASG and others who came to their aid and safely removed the crew from the fautasi.

 

The incident occurred when the fautasi were preparing for the race — turning around to position themselves in their designated lane. As the Fealofani and Matasaua encountered problems, the other seven boats headed back to the harbor.

 

An hour before the starting time, there were reports of fautasi in trouble, due to the high seas and choppy waters, with water pooling inside some fautasi.

 

KVZK-TV reported that the Pago Pago fautasi, the Aeto was the first to be affected by the high waves, but they turned around and were able to make it safely back to the harbor.

 

The “Sau Ia” which carried the KVZK-TV crew and a Samoa News reporter stayed at the scene to lend a helping hand to the Fealofani Samoa. Videos taken during the incident on the boat show the vessel ‘bouncing’ up and down due to choppy seas.

 

Around 9:12 a.m an announcement was made on the PA system at the Port Administration building that the race was not going to happen, and fautasi fans began to head away from the main dock. From the Samoa News building — located across the street from the main dock — at least two fautasi could be seen heading back into the main harbor, toward the Pago village harbor area.

 

Long before the race started, supporters of each fautasi team had already made their way into the downtown area, to get a good spot along the shoreline, especially between Utulei and Pago Pago in front of ASCO Motors, the finish line. Due to the race and the 2Samoas Trade Fair in Utulei, traffic was crawling for a few hours.

 

Samoa News would like to extend its thanks to the Leala Peter Reid family and its  companies of G.H.C. Reid & Co. Ltd, Peter E. Reid Stevedoring, Samoa Motors, NAPA Samoa, and SLC Manufacturing (Vaimalu) for allowing Samoa News to cover the 2015 fagaimea i le tai.

 

See more photos of the incident on samoanews.com and our website will link you to a live stream for Saturday’s race of the 2015 Flag Day Faigamea i le Tai.

 

ONLINE POLL FOR FAUTASI RACE

 

Also, due to fautasi race being postponed until Saturday, Samoa News “People’s Choice” online poll has been re-opened for voting until Friday, April 17, 6p.m.

 

With over 1500 votes tallied at press time last night, Taema II of Leone has surged ahead with 24% of the votes. The no. 2 spot with 19% of the vote is Manulele Tausala I of Nu’uuli, and last week’s leader, Aeto from Pago Pago, in the #3 spot with 17%.

 

Winner of the People’s Choice online poll will win 10 cases of Taula beer, donated by Taula and Sama Beers, proudly distributed by Pacific Sales & Marketing, with a $100 cash donation from Samoa News.

 

 

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Update: Fautasi Race rescheduled for Saturday

Thursday's Race cancelled after two fautasi swamped
reporters@samoanews.com

After a 2015 Flag Day Fautasi Committee meeting this afternoon, the final decision, is that the fautasi race is rescheduled for 7a.m. Saturday.  The meeting this afternoon included Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga and Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega.
 
More details in tomorrow’s edition.
 
The Matasaua of Manu’a and Fealofani Samoa III of Fagasa are swamped with water and the crews are clinging to the hulls while the chase boats work to secure the oars and rescue the rowers.
 
KVZK-TV reports no one is injured and they are covering the rescue live. Click on our link in the left hand column, look for the “Big 2”.
 
Weather today is 10-15 MPH tradewinds with moderate seas. It appears that the low gunnels (sides of the boat) on the two swamped fautasi allowed the waves to fill the hulls with water.
 
The other seven boats have headed back to the harbor.
 
The 2015 Fautasi Race Committee officially cancelled today's fautasi race and called an urgent meeting at 12noon with fautasi captains and village representatives at the Office of Samoa Affairs to
discuss, among other things, whether to hold a race tomorrow.
 
The National Weather Service Office in Tafuna issued around 6:34a.m. today a small craft advisory due to winds of 10-15mph and seas 6-8 feet. It’s currently high tide.
 
An hour before the starting time, there were reports of fautasi in trouble, due to high seas, with water inside some fautasi. KVZK-TV reports that Aeto fautasi was the first to be affected by high waves, but they were able to made it back to the harbor.
 
A privately owned boat, which carried the TV crew and a Samoa News reporter, could be seen on video bouncing up and down due to rough seas. Owners of the boat also stayed on the sea to lend a helping hand to Fealofani Samoa.
 
KVZK-TV live broadcast footage shows the Fealofani Samoa fautasi underwater, as crew members remains on the boat, with nearby fautasi trying to help. Footage shows at least four fautasi crew members in the ocean as help arrives on the scene. ASG tugboats, at least two alia boats, Marine Patrol boat, Marine and Wildlife boat all rushed to the scene.
 
Other KVZK footage shows Matasaua fautasi also in trouble as help arrived at their location, and a fautasi nearby stopped to help.
 
Around 9:12a.m an announcement was made on the PA system at the Port Administration building that the race was not going to happen and fautasi fans headed away from the main dock.
 
From the Samoa News building - located across the street from main dock - at least two fautasi was seen heading back into the main harbor, towards the finish line.
 
Long before the race started, supporters of each fautasi team have already made their way into the downtown area, to get a good spot along the shoreline, especially between Utulei and Pago Pago in front of ASCO Motors the finish line.
 
With the race as well as the 2 Samoa Trade Fair at Utulei, traffic was almost at a standstill.
 
Samoa News will provide updates as soon as information becomes available.

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