FORT LEE, Va. (WWBT) — In American Samoa, military service is tradition.
That’s why 41 members of a Samoan family have all enlisted in the Army together, and have started training at Fort Lee, Virginia.
At 17-years-old Feiloaiga Filivaa is the youngest of the group. He’s following in the footsteps of his older brother who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“He was my role model. I always looked up to him. Now I joined the Army just to make my family proud, and him proud,” Filivaa said.
Filivaa and his first, second, third and fourth cousins are from Poloa, more than 7,000 miles away from Fort Lee, where they are training in the Unit Supply Specialist Course.
“It’s a nice opportunity the Army has given us. Most of us came here for a new step in our career, for us to better our future,” Filivaa said.
Joseph Tauiliili, 30, is the oldest in the group, and feels responsible to lookout for his younger family members.
“They have to look at me as a leader, and I have to be a role model to them,” Tauiliili said.
Tauiliili began his career as a special education teacher, but always wanted to join the military.
He says having 40 of his family members with him has made the transition much easier, proving there is strength in numbers.