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REPUBLIC OF KOREA SAMOA ASSOCIATION (ROKSA 2006)

By Major Tauapai Laupola & Easter Asi Bruce
 

The Republic of Korea Samoa Association (ROKSA) is nearing a second year of its existence in successfully providing Samoan service members stationed in Korea “a home away from home.” The success is primarily due to passionate board members and an unwavering supporting spirit from committee chairs and the current membership. Although a large percentage of Samoan service members and families have departed Korea in the past year, ROKSA continues its commitment and dedication of service to the Samoan community here in Korea.

With the summer months approaching on the Korean peninsula brings the unfortunate season of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) for Samoan service members and their families. In fact, W01 Roberts will be departing Korea this July as he rotates to his new duty station at Ft. Lewis, WA. Considered to be the cornerstone of Korea’s Samoan community even before ROKSA’s birth is the sad departure of Mr. Suianoa “Sam” Sapatu. Sam will be departing in July to take up a new job at Schofield Barracks, HI.

In light of these departures, the executive board would like to share their personal thoughts of ROKSA to include final parting comments. The following individuals make up the executive board voted to serve in the 2005-2006 year: MAJ Tauapai M. Laupola, President; Mr. Suianoa “Sam” Sapatu, Vice President; W01 Samitioata “Sammy” Roberts, Treasurer; and Ms. Easter Asi Bruce, Secretary.

MAJ Tauapai Mika Laupola hails from the village of Afono, American Samoa. His parents are the late Laupola, Mika of Afonotele and Sili, Manua; and Fivaula Loa Laupola of Afonotele and Fagamalo, American Samoa. He enlisted in the military in 1985 and was commissioned in 1989. He has served as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Company Commander, and Operations Officer. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff Officers College at Ft Leavenworth, Kansas. He is currently a staff officer for the Special Operations Command Korea serving as the Joint Combined Exercise Training manager.

According to Laupola, promoting and perpetuating the Samoan culture in the military is his passion. He tries to make it to Samoa with his family at least once a year so he will have the energy and strength to live away from Samoa. MAJ Laupola is married to Mona Laupola and has 9 children. SFC (Ret) Suianoa “Sam” Sapatu hails from the village of Lalomauga,

   

ROKSA Executive 2005 – 2006: MAJ Tauapai M. Laupola (President); Mr. Suianoa “Sam” Sapatu (Vice President); W01 Samitioata “Sammy” Roberts (Treasurer); and Ms. Easter Asi Bruce (Secretary).
 

SPC Poasa Masaniai Jr, (PJ) a member of the Republic of Korea Samoa Association (ROKSA), was selected for the United States All Army Volleyball team trials in Ft Huachuca, Arizona.

 

Front Row (L – R):Easter Bruce; Anna Theresa Laupola, Georgina Laupola, Lindsey Laupola, Dr Erika Puni, Athenia Laupola, Florence Amosa, Tuileama Nua; Back Row (L – R): Keanu Nua, Tauapai Laupola, Suiaunoa “Sam” Sapatu, Leafe Amosa.

  Upolu. Sam is a military retiree enjoying life after the military as a senior ranking government civilian. He is presently employed by the U.S. Army Material Support Center Korea, Camp Humphreys. He is departing July 2006 to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to take up a new job with the Directorate of Logistics, Supply & Services Division. Sam is married to Sue Hyon and they have two children: Janet Christine, 25 and Jesse Lee 22.

I got involved with ROKSA because I believe and support ROKSA’s main purpose: to provide a home away from home for all Samoan service members stationed in Korea; it is a place for them to come and fellowship with their Samoan brothers and sisters; and they can receive support and advise from our senior members – whether it is military related or just life in general.

W01 Samitioata “Sammy” Roberts hails from the village of Aasu Fou, American Samoa. His parents are Tafa’ifa Sinapao Roberts and Vaepa Uiagailelei Roberts. Currently, W01 Roberts is the Property Book Officer for 25th Trans Bn, Yongsan, Korea; however, he will be PCS’ing in July to be the Property Book Officer for 2nd Bn 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Ft. Lewis, WA. Sammy is married to Matalena Tuisamoa Bernard Roberts and they have two children: daughter, Melcia M. Roberts, 8 and son Samoa S. Roberts, 5.

I urge any soldier or any Samoan visiting Korea to look up the ROKSA Association. It has been my family throughout my tour in Korea and has provided me the opportunity to meet other Samoan brothers, sisters, families, contractors, and senior military leaders in the country. ROKSA has reminded me that all Samoans are unique and that it is our responsibility to maintain that cultural richness no matter where you are in this world. Thank you to the entire ROKSA family. “Fa’amalo le Tautua ma Fa’afetai I lou alofa ia Samoa.”

Ms. Easter Asi Bruce was born in American Samoa. Her parents are Vaueli Sia’asu Asi and Seiafi Tagovailoa Asi; they hail from the villages of Taputimu and Vatia, respectively. Easter is the division chief for Intel & IT Requirements & Projects for the United States Forces Korea, J2 directorate. She is married to CSM (Ret) Thomas M. Bruce and they have two children: daughter, Jiovanna 20 and son, Dylan 18. Jiovanna will be returning to Central Missouri State University (CMSU) as a junior this fall; her brother Dylan will join her as a freshman.

In late 2003, I experienced a dramatic conversion to my Samoan heritage after the death of my grandmother, Miriama Leituomanu Tagovailoa. Since then, my focus has been solely to serve Samoa and her people in whatever capacity until I return home. ROKSA has satisfied my renewed passion and fervor for the Samoan culture by providing a family environment for our Samoan service members stationed in Korea while they are away from their loved ones.

ROKSA is not successful because of an individual or two but because of a team of individuals. With that said, I would also like to mention key ROKSA members: CSM Tuileama and Anita Nua; 1SG (Ret) Martin and LTC Shelly Matautia; SFC (Ret) Faresa and Lena Tuuao; SFC Leafe and SSG Florence Amosa; and CSM (Ret) Thomas M. Bruce.

In June this year, Dr Erika Puni (Samoan Pastor and Director of Stewardship of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with its World Headquarters at Silver Spring, Maryland, USA) visited with the Republic of Korean Samoan Association (ROKSA) while on his official trip with the SDA Church’s regional Office for the Northern Asia Pacific Division (NSD) in Ilsang, Korea; May 27-June 03, 2006. Dr Puni lectured and provided training for the Church’s Stewardship directors for this region (Japan, S. Korea, Mongolia, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan).

Commenting on his time together with ROKSA members over the week and including a special Sunday service at the Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, Korea; Puni said; “It was a real joy to meet up with our people in this part of the world, and I was encouraged to see their commitment to the Samoan values of community, care and support for each other, respect, and love for God.”

ROKSA welcomed Dr Puni to Korea at a gathering in Yongsan Army Garrison Saturday, May 27, 2006. Dr Puni seized the opportunity to share with Samoan soldiers his heartfelt appreciation for everything they have done to defend freedom in this region of the world. ROKSA Vice President, Suiaunoa “Sam” Sapatu, thanked Dr Puni for taking time off his busy schedule to visit with sons and daughters of Samoa stationed in South Korea. According to Mr. Sapatu, “ROKSA is very proud of Dr Puni’s accomplishments, as well as his election to his new post with the Seventh-day Adventists Church. He said, “It is always a pleasure reading and hearing about successful Samoans, but to meet Dr Puni in person and fellowship with him is priceless.”

During his visit, Dr Puni took a couple of tours of the city of Seoul, as well as the “Demilitarized Zone” (DMZ). The DMZ is a heavily fortified border between North and South Korea. According to Dr Puni, the tour of the DMZ gave him an appreciation of how fragile the peace agreement is between North Korea and South Korea. Despite his busy schedule, Dr Puni was able to share with ROKSA a model that he has been researching “Understanding the A/B Generation: A Samoan Perspective.” In this presentation, Dr Puni addressed a wholistic model for understanding Samoan culture in the context of the 21st century and provided an educational perspective on culture change and shifting values of the second and third generations of Samoans (Generations A/B).

According to SSG Florence Amosa, a mother and a soldier that was born and raised in California, Dr Puni’s presentation gave her perspective and an appreciation of the challenge in finding a balance between the Samoan parent’s effort to teach “fa’asamoa” to their children and all the external factors that are shaping the children’s view of the world today. SGT Ruta, considers herself a generation A/B commented on how ROKSA has provided her the opportunity to learn the language and culture that she did not received while growing up in San Diego, California.

ROKSA President, Major Tauapai Laupola spoke on behalf of the association, thanked Dr Puni for taking time off from his very busy schedule to fellowship with Samoans in South Korea. According to Major Laupola, it’s always refreshing to hear a Samoan speaks so passionately about “God,” Samoa, and the World, as it relates to our line of work.

Also this year, SPC Poasa Masaniai Jr, (PJ) a member of the Republic of Korea Samoa Association (ROKSA), was selected for the United States All Army Volleyball team trials in Ft Huachuca, Arizona. He is currently assigned to the 201st Signal Company in Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, Korea. PJ not only made the team but was on the starting line-up thru out the tournament. PJ and the US Army volleyball team successfully completed the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force) and the Conceil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) world military volleyball championship in May and June respectively. "This is PJ’s first year in the trials and he was one of the two best volleyball players in the US Army team" said the player head coach SFC Ray Javier. According to Head Coach, SFC Javier, "there is no doubt in his mind that PJ will make the All Army team". He is a very disciplined and a motivational player, who accepted a leader role the very first time he stepped out on the court.

The US Army volleyball team swept the Armed Forces tournament winning all of their matches except their last one against the Marines. Despite losing to the Marines, the All Army volleyball team has already guaranteed the Gold Medal. This was a great accomplishment for the Army volleyball team considering the last time the team won the Gold Medal was in 1996. The Air Force volleyball team has been dominating the Armed Forces tournament since then. PJ’s performance during the tournament was superb and led to his selection to the Armed Forces team.

His skills and determination can be traced all the way back to his High School (HS) years. PJ was on the varsity team in all four years in HS. However, he did not get picked by any of the power house Universities that visited his HS (UH Manoa, USC, Pepperdine, and SDU). Although PJ did not have a chance to play at the college level, his father and mentor, Poasa Masaniai Sr, encouraged his son to pursue this dream in the military when he had the chance to play for the All Army volleyball team. This dream became a reality during the Armed Forces and the CISM world military volleyball championship.

Poasa and Faatuai Masaniai were very excited when they found out that their son would be coming home for the All Army Volleyball trials and the tournament that will be hosted at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. “It has to be the work of our heavenly Father to make it possible. We have planned for him to come home for his sisters High School graduation, and the timing couldn't be more precise. PJ’s favorite scripture is Proverbs 3, 5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your hearts and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path". Only the good Lord could have paved his way and made it possible for us to see him for a couple of months at such a special time. PJ’s parents and especially his sister, Perelini Masaniai who will be attending Grand Canyon University, AZ this fall were very proud of PJ’s accomplishments, especially the way he carries himself both as a soldier in the United States Army and a man of God.

SPC Poasa Masaniai Jr is the son of Poasa Masaniai Sr of Vatia, American Samoa (AS) and Faatuai Togia’i Masaniai of Tula, AS. His sister Pelelini Masaniai is his strongest supporter and cheerleader through out his volleyball days in HS. The Masaniai family would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation and a faafetai tele lava to all his ROKSA family in Korea, the 201st Signal Co, 1st Signal Bde chain of command, friends and families for their endless support and prayers.
 
 
 

Copyright Event Polynesia Ltd. 2005
 

 

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