28 Sep 2004

American Samoan families attend service in Hawaii for troops before final training in US

7:44 am on 28 September 2004

A farewell service was held in Hawaii yesterday for 200 American Samoan army reservists on deployment to Iraq.

The 100th Battalion is set to leave for Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for the final phase of their deployment training before heading to Iraq.

About 130 wives and their children traveled from American Samoa for the service and to spend the next week with their husbands and fathers.

Private First Class, Laveitiga Suiaunoa, said he came to the service to prepare himself for war, and more than a year away from his wife and young son.

Governor Togiola Tulafono, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin and Aumua Amata Coleman were some of the dignitaries who attended.

Above the church, a four metre long sign read, "Keep our soldiers safe" and "Blessings and love from your families."