Those we have lost in 2011
American Samoa lost traditional leaders, cabinet directors, a sports icon and other dear ones in 2011 that ended with the official withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and the territory was blessed with no war casualties for our own Toa o Samoa, this year.
The territory was also blessed with no major disasters, from cyclones to earthquakes and tsunamis.
The last earthquake and tsunami in 2009 claimed the lives of 34 people.
The only loss of life of a Samoan soldier was in a military report from Harker Heights, Texas where Sgt. 1st Class Washington Vaalele Ale, 39, died from an apparent gunshot wound on Sept. 24.
He was assigned to the 479th Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, since April 2011 and had served in the Iraq war from October 2006 through December 2007 and again from August 2008 through October 2008.
The first major loss for the territory, which also made international news, was in late January, when Peni “Ben” Solaita, president of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee passed away Jan. 27, at the LBJ Medical Center, at the age of 61.
About a week later on Feb. 3, cabinet member and late chief procurement officer Tauiliili Iupati “Pat” Tervola, passed away at the LBJ Medical Center, at the age of 58.
Another cabinet member and traditional leader, the late Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Tufele Li’amatua, passed away in Honolulu in October at the age of 71.
Last month the Fono mourned the death of the late Sen. Amituana’i Eteuati Sr., who passed away at the age of 78.
Perhaps the biggest news - not only here but around the world, which was also a front page story on Samoa News - was when the rest of the world learned that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden, during an American military raid at a compound in Pakistan. The Al-Qaida leader is accused by the U.S. as the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. in 2011.
Other notable deaths locally reported by Samoa News:
• Former police commissioner Sotoa Savali passed away in October at the age of 74. He was also a former senator and Secretary of Samoan Affairs.
• Bernadette "Pele" Scanlan Langkilde, 56, passed away earlier this month after more than 10 years battling with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or "Lou Gehrig’s disease".
• Former cabinet member Meloma Afuola passed away on Oct. 27 in Honolulu at the age of 69. She had served in past administrations as Chief Procurement Officer, Administrative Services Department director and Budget and Planning Office.
• South Pacific legend, Charles ‘Chuck’ Brugman, 86, passed away in April at the hospital. The long-time American Samoa resident served as a Marine in World War II and was a 'hard hat' diver working in his younger days all over the world. He began diving Samoa’s waters in 1975.
• Margaret 'Margie' Kneubuhl Landrigan, the matriarch of the Kneubuhl family passed away on Jan. 27 in California where she spent a part of each year.
• Sione Lefao, of Leone, died in May in Hawai’i after being washed out to sea while out kayaking with other men. He was a cadet in the University of Hawaii Army ROTC program. Samoa News has been unable to obtain his age but he was a transfer from the ASCC ROTC program.
Samoa News will recap some of the top stories in American Samoa in the Jan. 3 edition of the new year.