On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the United States of America pauses to commemorate the services of the men and women who have put their lives on the line for their country.
On Friday at the US Embassy at Vailima, a small but humble group of veterans living on island gathered to celebrate Veteran’s day.
What better way to celebrate an American holiday then with hot dogs on the grill and great company!
The veterans gathered around the table and gleefully recounted their time in the military amongst their comrades. Some of these veterans got to trotted the globe and witnessed history unfold in front of their very eyes.
Myles Wilkinson, the husband of Chargé d’Affaires, Angelina, is an Army veteran who was stationed in Germany. He was a border patrol guard and was actually in the country when the “Iron Curtain” was torn down.
Each and every one of these veterans has their own unique story to tell about their time in the military
Afoafouvale Mark Moors of Ululoloa spoke to the Samoa Observer about his time in the Air Force and his coming home.
Born and raised in Samoa, Afoafouavale spent his schools years at Pesega but was always fascinated with aircrafts. After college, he worked at Polynesian Airlines in the aircraft maintenance department before departing the island to go to Hawaii on a university scholarship.
After attending university, Afoafouvale enlisted in the military. He cites ability to change careers within the military while still attaining one’s rank is what initially drew him in.
But having been born in Samoa Afoafouvale did not let his citizenship status deter him from his dream of being in the military.
“If I want to be a U.S. citizen, I’m going to earn it.” He spent his first five years in the military under the status of permanent resident before officially achieving the title as U.S. citizen.
After attaining citizenship, Afoafouvale travelled throughout the Unites States, having stints and in New Mexico, Texas , and Los Angeles.
But like any Samoan, the island will always be home. He retired two years before hitting 20 years of service to come home and take care of his aging mother who was living alone. Coming from a war zone to reverting back to the simplistic island way of life was a bit difficult at first.
He stated, “It’s not like what I’ve seen. If something significant happened in the jobs that I was in, it would’ve been a huge loss of life. Those are much more significant.”
Now retired, he faces another battle. This time it’s not an enemy combatant but his wife’s battle with cancer. What initially started out as breast cancer that turned toxic when she got a brain tumor. As her caretakers, Afoafouvale accompanies her, feeds her liquids and ensures that she is comfortable after taking her body took major beatings in the chemo therapy treatment.