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American Samoa's name is flying high

A look at some of the USMC F-35B stealth fighters that were part of a fleet deployed to Iwakuni, Japan in the first operational overseas deployment for the jets that are dubbed — the most expensive plane in history. The side of the aircraft features the name of Leone HS graduate: SSGT Louis H. Uhrle, a US Marine mechanic who is part of the squadron that deployed to Japan. The name of his village — Leone — is featured on the plane, alongside "American Samoa".  [photo: screenshot of CNN news broadcast]
Thanks to a LHS graduate

American Samoa's name is being flown high in the sky, thanks to the dedicated work of a Leone High School graduate who is proudly serving in the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

Earlier this year, SSGT Louis H. Uhrle became one of America's elite, a member of the F-35B stealth fighter squadron that was sent to Iwakuni, Japan, as part of the first operational overseas deployment for the controversial jet that faces scrutiny from US President Donald Trump.

According to, “The planes’ deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.

“With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive plane in history — and costs are set to go higher still. The marines’ version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.”

The US Air Force’s version is the F-35A and the US Navy flies the F-35C. reports that "Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s life span through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion. Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information."

It quoted a statement from the marines saying, “The unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar and sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air-support platform.”

Uhrle is one of the mechanics for the aircraft and his name, along with his rank, and the words "American Samoa, Leone" are printed on the side of the aircraft.

He is the son of Samuel and Mina Uhrle, and is currently stationed in Iwakuni, Japan. He is married to Lasitausaafia Lauvao and they have two daughters: Punipuao and Taliaina Uhrle. 

Samoa News spoke to Uhrle's mother Mina last week and she indicated that Louis isn't her only child serving in the military. As a matter of fact, his older brother Gene is serving in the US Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and, their sister Samantha is a military wife, married to a serviceman on active guard duty at Ft. Thomas, a US Army base in Kentucky.

Prior to his move half way across the world, Uhrle was first stationed on the west coast — first at Miramar in San Diego, CA working on the F-22, before relocating to Yuma, Arizona.