American Samoa, a U.S. territory with a land area of 77 squares miles and a population of roughly 56,000 people, yields the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. State or territory. However, the island bids a warm “Tofa Soifua” to the infamous, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment’s Charlie Company, as they transition from American Samoa to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
No unit in the Army Reserve is more famed historically than the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, being designated the unit with the most medal of honors of all in the entire U.S. Army. The 100th Battalion, 442nd has five companies, dispersed across the Pacific, and continues the “Go For Broke” legacy as the sole infantry battalion in the Army Reserve.
Although Charlie Company has had a footprint in American Samoa since 1980, maintaining the unit’s strength has been a challenge.
Deputy Commander - Operations for the 9th Mission Support Command, Col. Wayne Dehaney, explained the need for the move.
“Charlie Company continued to face challenges recruiting personnel for the Infantry in American Samoa,” explained Dehaney. “It is important to note that there is not a recruiting problem in American Samoa, just recruiting infantry personnel in the Army Reserve. American Samoa has its fair share of infantry personnel recruited, but most of them choose to join the active component.”
Most of the recruits for the Army Reserve in American Samoa, choose a Military Occupational Specialty that could be utilized in their community.
“All the other Army Reserve units in AS are over 100 percent strength,” Dehaney said. This includes the 411th Engineer Battalion Forward Support Company, Theater Support Group American Samoa Detachment, and 962nd Quartermaster (Mortuary Affairs) Company.
American Samoa is still home to Bravo Company, a rifle company identical to Charlie Company, to provide Infantry opportunities to the community.
“All existing AS Soldiers in Charlie Company were folded into Bravo Company, bringing Bravo Company’s strength to 83 percent,” said Mr. Christopher M. Arakawa, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Supervisory Staff Administrator. “The decision to relocate the company was based on the manning constraints, not the inadequacies of training resources in American Samoa.”
The transition from American Samoa to the state of Washington will provide Charlie Company with additional training opportunities. Given its new location, Charlie Company will have access to world class training areas and ranges in the JBLM area and integrated training with multiple adjacent units.
“Charlie Company has attained 40% assigned strength,” Arakawa explained. “We are very optimistic that our personnel numbers will increase following the official relocation.”
While the official activation of Charlie Company at JBLM is scheduled for October 2021, the company participated in the battalion’s consolidated annual training at Pōhakuloa Training Area in Hawaii in July.
“There were about 30 Soldiers who were graciously welcomed into the fold of not only the Company but the Battalion as well,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Walden, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment Battalion Command Sergeant Major. “Charlie Company Soldiers showed great drive and tenacity when given tasks and performed exceptionally despite having only one tactical training Battle Assembly prior to Annual Training.”
Additionally, a squad from Charlie Company was selected to conduct a Live Fire Exercise for the Chief of the Army Reserve and the 9th MSC commanding general.
“Remember where you came from,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy Connelly, Commanding General of the 9th MSC, as he spoke in front of Charlie Company after the live fire exercise. “Samoans have tremendous warrior spirit. Bring that culture and history to JBLM.”
Charlie Company is scheduled for an activation ceremony in October at JBLM and a casing ceremony of the guidon in American Samoa.
Regardless of where Charlie Company resides, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry will continue its legacy: Go for Broke! Pride of the Pacific!