Memorial service for soldier who drowned at Alega set for Friday
Four US Army officials were scheduled to arrive in the territory last night, as part of a delegation traveling to the territory for a memorial service honoring SFC Albert Chung who died during a snorkeling accident a week ago Sunday in Alega.
Samoa News confirmed yesterday that four other US Army officials arrived last Friday evening for the memorial service set for Friday at 1 p.m. at the Konelio Pele US Army Reserve Center in Tafuna.
SFC Chung, 32, is of Korean ancestry and died two days after he arrived as part of a five-member enlistment support team that came to provide temporary assistance for the local US Army Recruiting Station.
While snorkeling in Alega on Sunday, August 6th, SFC Chung was reportedly swept off the edge of the reef and despite efforts to revive him — he didn't make it.
Friday's memorial service, according to SFC Kenny N. Tran, who heads the local US Army Recruiting Station, is for his team members, US Army personnel, government officials, and invited guests.
A separate memorial service for SFC Chung's family will be held when the deceased soldier's body is flown home.
Since they are already here, the visiting US Army officials will also be present during a mass swearing-in ceremony for 31 enlistees in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) tomorrow at 4 p.m., at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, if weather permits; otherwise, the event will take place at the Reserve Center.
The next swearing-in ceremony will not take place until January 2018.
The local US Army Recruiting Station made headlines recently, when they set a new record for the DEP, signing up 70 for active duty and 10 for the US Army Reserve — the highest number for a single trip — globally. The highest number prior to that was 71, a record that was also set by the local US Army Recruiting Station back in 2015.
But that's not all.
On Sept. 9, 2014, the local US Army Recruiting Station was ranked #1 (worldwide) in production out of the 885 Army recruiting stations and centers under the United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), which includes all regions representing the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Korea, Japan, and Europe.
During FY 2014, they put in a gross total of 153 recruits.
The following year in 2015, the total number of recruits increased to 171.
"This is the highest enlistment from one recruiting office within a two-week timeframe," shared SFC Tran during an earlier interview with Samoa News.
The Delayed Entry Program, SFC Tran explained, means "our applicants can sign their contract and wait until training date. During this time, their status changes from 'applicant' to Future Soldier (FS) and they are placed in the DEP to hold their training seat."
A Future Soldier in the DEP is required "to maintain their physical standard as the day they entered the DEP, and the recruiter will assist them with additional administrative requirements prior to training date i.e. physical training, bank set-up for direct deposits, and completing and passing the occupational physical assessment test."
There are three DEP trips per fiscal year.
SFC Tran said that this year's DEP record is a result of a combination of things, with more exceptions being granted and more training seats opening up for the territory's applicants.
It was a little more than five years ago that American Samoa made national headlines when it recorded the highest number of casualties in Iraq per capita than any other part of the United States. That year, over 4,250 American service members had been killed in Iraq and 17 of them were from American Samoa.