Grateful, proud Samoan
No matter where he travels on duty, Samoa is home, and what other way to show pride in who you are than getting the traditional tatau which signifies your roots.
This is what led U.S. Air Force, Colonel Vasaga Tialavea Hunt Tilo back to Samoa to get his tatau.
“I have travelled the world but my heart has always been in Samoa.
“With my green eyes, and light skin, my Samoan brothers who I come across might never guess I am a Samoan but this is one thing that I am very proud of; the fact I am Samoan.
“We’re hard workers; devoted to a call and above it all, we have the utmost respect for our culture and traditions. I am thankful I was born a Samoan,” said Colonel Tilo.
Colonel Tilo grew up in Faleapuna and Aua, American Samoa, but was actually born in Germany.
“Like I said, I’ve been around the world. My dad was in the army and with work, I’m certain I will continue traveling the world, But my best memories of my life throughout have always been about Samoa.
“I have memories of learning Samoan as a kid. I attended Marist and I love how Samoans just live freely throughout all of Samoa - something you can never do out of Samoa,” he said.
The 47-year-old says getting his tatau has always been a dream.
“The motivation behind my tatau is that Samoa is home.
“No matter where I’ve been, I am always that Samoan kid. As I’m getting older and ready to retire, this was on my list of things to do in life.”
Colonel Tilo said his father too has a tatau which was all the more reason why he should get one too.
Colonel Tilo is the son of American Samoa Senator Vasaga Tilo Sr, Vietnam War Retiree after serving 27 years in the Military and Christine Sala Tialavea-Hunt-Tilo.
His mother expressed how proud she is of her son.
“This is an indication that clearly says that my son is culturally rooted as a Samoan.
“Our tatau is rooted in our culture as it signifies us and who we are, as Samoans are unique like that.
“A toa Samoa, and with my son, when he sets goals, nothing stands in the way of achieving them.
“He is one determined person.”
Colonel Tilo is married to Kellyann M. Tilo with whom he has three children, Vasaga Tilo III, Madison and Siton.
It doesn’t end here for Colonel Tilo.
“I anticipate coming back next summer and after retirement, Samoa here I come,” he said laughing.
“I will return to give back to my Samoa and serve my family,” he said.
Mrs Tilo told the Samoa Observer that being there for her husband though his journey of getting his tatau has been awesome.
“There was a sense of devotion and love for one another. As a spouse I think it’s more meaningful, to go through all of it side by side.
“It’s not easy and in the process you learn a lot,” she said.
Colonel Tilo’s tatau was carried out by Tufuga Li’aifaiva Imo over a period of eight days..