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Toa o Samoa focus of this year's annual Military Ball

Governor Togiola Tulafono lauded the Toa o Samoa during the annual Military Ball held at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium last Saturday evening, in honor of National Armed Forces Day.

The black tie affair was filled with government dignitaries, military officials, veterans, and active soldiers with their families, families of fallen soldiers, and friends.

During his speech, Togiola expressed his appreciation to all Toa o Samoa, especially those who have died in the line of duty. He stated that because of their sacrifice, American Samoa and the rest of the world are able to enjoy peace and freedom.

Those in attendance also observed a moment of silence in honor of the territory’s fallen heroes.

Special guests, who had flown in to attend National Armed Forces Day celebrations, including the Military Ball, were introduced during the event — Colonel Leafaina Tavai Yahn and Command Sergeant Major Tuileama Toatolu Nua.

CSM Nua told Samoa News that this was a very special occasion — to remember the sacrifice made by the soldiers of American Samoa, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice because they died willingly for American Samoa.

He was recently selected by the U.S. Army to be the Command Sergeant Major for the US Army 44th Medical Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and is planning to return to American Samoa this year, when he retires from the military, after 35 years of service.

Families of fallen heroes like Sgt. Raymond Sevaaetasi, Sgt. Malaefou M. Heather and Army Spc. Farao K. Letufuga also attended the Military Ball.

Sgt. Sevaaetasi’s father, Tuala Sevaaetasi, told Samoa News that although his son is missed, he is grateful that his son did not die in vain and that he is remembered everywhere. He expressed his appreciation for the Marist Old Boys for continuing in their tradition of memorial services that is ongoing, for it gives them comfort and strength to carry on.

Sgt. Sevaaetasi, who died April 11, 2007, comes from a line of soldiers, with both his dad and grandfather being retired military officials.

Tolfie Heather, a surviving brother of fallen hero, Sgt. Malaefou Matthew Heather, who spoke on behalf of his family, stated that he wished he could see his brother amongst the audience in the Lee Auditorium Saturday evening. Tolfie said that they truly miss him in all of their family functions, but are truly proud of his service. Sgt. Heather died in 2008.