AMERICAN SAMOA LOSES SEVENTH SOLDIER IN IRAQ

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, Sept. 29) - Thirty-three-year-old Master Sgt. Tulsa Tulaga Tuliau, a Samoan soldier who was born in San Francisco and grew up in American Samoa, was killed on Monday in Baghdad, Iraq.

Tuliau, who served in the military for 14 years, is the son of late Tulaga Tuliau and Masina Tuliau, who currently reside in American Samoa.

Tuliau was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 314th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 78th Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

According to a statement from U.S. Department of Defense, Tuliau, along with battalion member Sgt. 1st Class Casey E. Howe, 32, of Philadelpia, both died in Baghdad of injuries sustained near Rustimayah, Iraq, on Sept. 26 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations.

"Its a very sad day for all of us and everyone in the family is taking it very hard," said Tuliau's aunty Cynthia Parsons in a telephone interview from Tuliau's home in Watertown. "He was just home at the end of August for his two week leave, where he spend time with everyone."

She said Tuliau was deployed to Iraq in April this year. She could not recall when the last time, he visited the territory. "He loved his family and he was proud to be in the Army," she added.

Parsons said the family was informed Monday of Tuliau's death and is expecting his body to return to New York in two days or so, "but nothing definite yet."

Tuliau is the seventh known Samoan soldier to die in Iraq. The other six, including one female, had their home of record in American Samoa.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni said he was notified yesterday by the US Army about Tuliau's death. He said he is grateful to the Master Sergeant's "service to our country."

"He and his other fellow men and women in uniform who have died before him are true heroes," Faleomavaega said in a press statement. "They have made the ultimate sacrifices so we may continue to enjoy the freedoms."

Faleomavaega said there is no doubt that American Samoa continues "to suffer the highest casualty rate in terms of deaths during the Iraq war, more than any other state or territory of the United States, on a per capita basis."

An active soldier, Tuliau, who served both in Afghanistan and Iraq, was an artillery non-commissioned officer, who enlisted in the Army in March 1992 and trained at Fort Sill, Okla., to be a Artilleryman. He was assigned to Fort Drum in 1999 and served with the 10th Mountain Division's 15th Field Artillery Regiment until he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 314th Regiment in January 2004.

While stationed at Fort Drum, Tuliau deployed with Alpha Battery 2-15 FA to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He previously served with the 4th Battalion, 82nd Filed Artillery, Fort Polk, La., from 1993 to 1996 and the 11th Field Artillery at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, from 1996 to 1999.

His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Combat Action Badge and the Driver Badge.

Tuliau is survived by his wife, Kate and two young daughters, 11 and 3 years old. Samoa

September 30, 2005

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

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