A Marine Corps honor guard carries the body of Tupufua Lefiti, a Vietnam veteran, to his grave in American Samoa Friday, July 22. The U.S. territory has a long history with the United States military and many families have a tradition of military service that dates back to 1900. The territory has the highest rate of enlistment of any state or territory in the United States with nearly 30% of high school graduates going into the armed services.
Naima Lang looks out onto his property in Leone, American Samoa Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Lang, who is not a U.S. citizen, served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam. Wounded twice Lang lost his left leg and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. American Samoa is the only U.S. soil that doesn’t confer citizenship upon birth.
Stickers decorate the rear window of Navy Suiaunoa’s truck Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. Military service is common in the territory, it has the highest rate of enlistment per capita of any state or territory.
Navy Suiaunoa stands in the back yard of his home in Tafuna, American Samoa Friday, Aug. 5. Despite being named Navy Suiaunoa chose to join the United States Marine Corps and is a Vietnam veteran. His brother Army is also a Marine veteran.
Naima Lang’s daughter sets the table for breakfast at their home in Leone, American Samoa Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Lang served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam. Lang worked at the University of Washington after leaving the Marine Corps but decided to move back to his home village to retire.
Family portraits hang on the wall of the shop that Navy Suiaunoa owns with his wife.Friday, Aug. 5. Tutuila, American Samoa. Suiaunoa can trace his families military sservice back to the Fita Fita Guard established by the U.S. Navy in 1900.
Saturday, Aug. 6. Tutuila, American Samoa. (Photo by Adam Vogler)
Naima Lang walks around his property in Leone, American Samoa Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Lang still suffers from the wounds he received in combat over 40 years ago and struggles the VA bureaucracy to receive the veterans benefits he feels he is entitled to. Despite that he remains proud of the service that cost him his leg and left hime suffering from PTSD. “Uncle Sam has been good to me,” Lang said.
Hawaiian Airlines provides the only link to the rest of the United States for American Samoa, offering three flights a week. Veterans needing treatment must make the four hour flight to Hawaii if they need services not offered by the local outpatient clinic run by the VA. Veterans who are not classified as being disabled must pay their own way.