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U.S.Air Force Staff Sgt. Danny Hollister dies after fall

A son of American Samoa, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Danny Robert Hollister of Ili’ili was pronounced dead this week at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu after being airlifted to Hawai’i from Thailand, where he was on a military mission.

“My wife and I are grieving the loss of our eldest of five siblings, and our only son,” said Rev. Dr. Tony Hollister in a telephone interview from Honolulu yesterday morning. “It has been really tough but we accept his passing. We depend on God’s spirit to get us through these difficult times.”

Rev. Hollister and wife Ann Marie left the territory Sunday night for Honolulu after receiving word that the couple’s son was in an accident and was being transported from Thailand to Tripler. Hollister said his son arrived in Honolulu Tuesday morning and was still in a coma.

The Air Force said in a news release that Staff Sgt. Hollister suffered a head injury on Mar. 9 after falling from a one-story building while deployed to Udon Thani, Thailand, in support of Exercise Cope Tiger 2012. The cause of the fall is currently under investigation.

Hollister, an A C-17 loadmaster assigned to the 535th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawai’i, was pronounced dead at Tripler on Mar. 13, the news release says.

A graduate of Leone High School, the twenty-four year old staff sergeant entered military service right after high school. Next month would mark his sixth year in the Air Force, said Rev. Hollister, who added that his son had already re-enlisted for another five years.

Rev. Hollister, who is the church minister of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa in Ili’ili, could not speak for several seconds when asked what he would miss most about his son.

When he finally spoke, he said,“He is someone who really wants to do good for others.”  Softly, and with sadness he continued, “He is a person who likes to give his service to others. My son wanted to work in the service of others and in service to his country and it was the reason he joined the Armed Forces.”

“My son was also doing a lot of good for us,” he said in a quivering voice. “I miss my son. He has also left behind his wife Rena, who is pregnant and expecting their second child in two months. He and Rena have a nine-month old baby.”

“My son wanted to be a pilot... he dreamed of being a pilot and this is the main reason he joined the Air Force,” said Rev. Hollister. “We are all very proud of him and he was very happy in the Air Force.”

Rev. Hollister is hoping to return home with his son’s remains next Thursday but it all depends on the military and their investigation at this point.

Besides his parents, his wife and infant child, Staff Sgt. Hollister is also survived by four sisters.

Samoa News extends condolences to the Hollister family in their time of sadness.