Below is an article from the most recent Hawai’i Army Weekly which caught my fancy for several reasons. First, I’ve met the fine young lady featured in the piece and think very highly of her. Second, I like unexpected but perfectly logical dual roles such as beauty queen and seasoned warrior. And third, I’m in one of the photos used in the report. Thanks to our friends at the Weekly for allowing me to reprint the piece here.
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Tutuila Soldiers are exemplary warriors
Capt. Liana Kim, 9th Mission Support Command
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Long after the sun had set on the south Pacific island, rhythmic drums and chanting voices rang into the night as the final performance marked the end of the 20th annual Miss American Samoa pageant, here, Nov. 1.
“By far the best part, everyone agreed, was when the outgoing Miss American Samoa, who is an Army Reserve Soldier here, had the youth from her village sing and join in her farewell dance,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jancy Shimasaki, an Army Recruiter from American Samoa, who said the payoff for attending the pageant until after midnight was the grand finale.
For her farewell production, Arrielle La’asaga Tuilefano Maloata, Miss American Samoa 2012-2013, had invited her peers from the village of Malaeloa to perform onstage with her before relinquishing the crown.
“I take great pride in my village, and when I first entered the pageant, Malaeloa had my back to the fullest. So I always said that I entered with Malaeloa, and I would leave with them at the pageant,” Maloata said. “We did an awesome farewell number, and I think it touched everybody, because usually at the end of every pageant, the (outgoing) Miss just says goodbye. Now they have something to top next year!”
Maloata’s focus has always been one of service. During the past year, whether supporting local philanthropic events or performing traditional Samoan dances for distinguished visitors, she served as an ambassador on several fronts — for American Samoa, the U.S. Army and her faith. She said she found great fulfillment in encouraging youth that “living for God is cool.”
As the only daughter and eldest of five children, Maloata joined the Army after high school to make her father proud. She soon discovered soldiering was something she was really good at, and loved. As a truck driver with the 740th Forward Support Company, of the 9th Mission Support Command, headquartered in Hawaii, she wanted to share her patriotism with the people of American Samoa and the world.
“I stand here before you to let you know that I am a warrior in the United States Army,” Maloata said to the cheering crowd as she shed the tribal coat she wore for her final song in the 2012 pageant that crowned her Miss American Samoa, revealing her Army Combat Uniform underneath.
“We are who we are to protect our culture, to protect our ancestors, and we fight for everything they did for us,” she said.
An Oct. 22, 2012, “Samoa News” article by Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu tells how the 21-year-old Army Reservist won the MASI crown, was named Miss Float and took the categories of best Traditional Wear, Best Formal Puletasi and Best Talent for personifying the two variations of a Samoan female warrior — both the matriarch of ancient times and today’s modern Soldier.
For Maloata, “warrior” means more than a pose. According to Capt. Charles Scheck, commander, Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion, to which the 740th FSC is attached, Maloata is an expert marksman who achieved the second-highest shooting score of the entire battalion.
“An articulate young Soldier who does extremely well, Spc. Maloata embodies everything that you’d want in a Soldier. Not only is she an ambassador to American Samoa, she is really an ambassador to the Army Reserve,” Scheck said. “It is a joy watching Soldiers like her develop and blossom; it’s what makes being in command so rewarding.”
“American Samoans bring a lot to the military — especially numbers!” said Maloata. “We also bring a lot of respect, humility and discipline. I love being Samoan.”
“There is a proud military history in American Samoa; their enlistment rate is very high compared to other areas. The culture down here is one of respect and strong religious faith, and I think it parlays right into the military’s discipline,” Scheck said. “We are fortunate to have Samoan Soldiers in the U.S. Army. They are extremely disciplined, hard-working Soldiers. I could not ask for a better group of men and women to lead.”
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