OF KOREA SAMOA ASSOCIATION (ROKSA 2006)
By Major Tauapai Laupola & Easter Asi Bruce
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
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
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
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
Copyright Event Polynesia Ltd. 2005