PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Army News Service, Aug. 20, 2004) -- With the rugged mountainous terrain and coastline dotted with numerous inlets and bays as a backdrop, approximately 250 soldiers of America's only Army Reserve ground combat unit, answered the call to duty with a solemn three-and-one-half hour prayer service marking their mobilization Aug. 16 on the Asian-Pacific tropical island of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
In a display of whole island community support, nearly 3000 citizens from local villages, along with friends and family members gathered in the maintenance bay of the soon to be completed new Army Reserve Center to honor the Army Reserve Soldiers of Company's B and C, 100th Battalion 442nd Infantry Regiment.
The newly activated Army Reserve Soldiers will join other Soldiers within the battalion from Saipan and Guam at Schofield Barracks for additional training. The battalion will deploy about 575 Soldiers for mobilization training pn the mainland and be eventually shipped overseas to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment will support Hawaii's Army National Guard's 29th Separate Infantry Brigade while deployed.
In addition to hymns sung by five island high school choirs, the Soldiers heard remarks from a host of military and civilian VIPs to include the American Samoa Governor Togiola T. Tulafono. Tulafono told the Soldiers he was going to introduce bills into the legislature to protect the soldiers' civilian jobs when they return from duty and to improve pay benefits.
Other speakers mentioned the famed "Go For Broke" regiment of World War II, the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, that became the most decorated unit of its size in the war. It is the only battalion-sized unit in the U.S. Army authorized its own shoulder patch.
Sergeant Lang Lagafuaina, a team leader with first squad, third Platoon, B Company, has been in the unit for eight years and has a cousin in C Company. "It is an honor to be in the unit and carry on the "Go For Broke" tradition," Lagafuaina said. "There is no spirit like the 100th spirit, it has brotherhood spirit."
"The Samoan people are extremely patriotic and strive on service to country," said Capt. Calvin Fish, commander of B Company. "They take pride in knowing they are part of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry."
"They want to be a part of this (mobilization) because they know how significant this is," Fish said. "You can see their sense of urgency."
Staff Sergeant Malo Faumoina's response illustrated Fish's point.
"No more monthly drill, this is the real thing," said Faumoina, who hales from the village of Alofau. "I am proud to wear this last name as a Samoan warrior. To become chief, you have to fight for it, so that's like what I'm doing now, go and fight to maintain Faumoina chief." His father is the former village chief and his uncle is the current village chief.
The passion for being a member of the 100th runs deep in family and historical roots.
Sergeant Jancey Shimasaki wanted to be in the unit because of his Japanese ancestry. He is half Japanese and half Samoan.
"I think my ancestors were fighting on the Japanese side. I had a cousin who was an officer in the Japanese navy," Shimasaki said. "It's a calling. We are answering the call as the unit did in World War II," he said.
Sergeant First Class Faaagi Taufeteee summed up the pride the unit members have in the "Go for Broke" tradition.
"Go For Broke" means you give all you got, when you ready to go attack, or whatever you do, you give all you got. The pride of the Army Reserve and the pride of your unit, it's you," Taufetee said.
(Editor's note: Paul Adams is a public affairs specialist with the Army Reserve Command.)