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U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Samasoni Lelea
U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Samasoni Lelea is an American Samoa native, from the far eastern village of Onenoa. His passion and desire to make a difference in the world and provide freedom to others led him to enlist in the United States military and protect our country for over 22 years.
Lelea was deployed to Iraq three times during active duty. During his second deployment he worked as a platoon sergeant and traveled Iraq in an unarmored Humvee. In 2006 Lelea's truck was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and he was thrown about the inside of the vehicle. His gunner sustained shrapnel in his face and their medic was injured. Lelea sustained a concussion and injured his legs and back. Despite these injuries, Lelea insisted on staying and continuing to fight.
The following year, Lelea’s vehicle was hit with an explosively formed penetrator(EFP). His vehicle exploded, caught fire and rolled down the street. Despite his efforts, Lelea couldn’t stop the vehicle. After his vehicle came to a halt, he attempted to assess the situation but due to sustained injuries, Lelea passed out and lost all consciousness until he woke up in the hospital. This incident resulted in traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obstructive sleep apnea, as well as a labral tear in his right shoulder. In spite of multiple injuries, he stayed on active duty as long as he possibly could, but medically retired in February 2020.
For nearly 25 years of military service, Lelea was recognized with a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, Meritorious service medal, army commendation medal 3rd award, joint service achievement medal, army achievement medal 2nd award, and many more awards and accolades.
Lelea currently lives with his wife and children in Alaska. After he was stationed at Ft. Hood, he promised his family they would return one day. As a family, the Leleas enjoy barbequing, camping and fishing together.
Operation Finally Home along with Garvey Homes and sponsors the Dallas Builders Association, the City of Irving and NEC are thrilled to provide the Lelea family with a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Irving, Texas.