Friday, November 19, 2010

Army Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy, 36, of Pago Pago, American Samoa

SSgt. Gandy was assigned to 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Reserve, Des Moines, Iowa; died Nov. 19, 2010 in Balad, Iraq, in a non-combat incident.

Gandy, 36, of American Samoa, died Nov. 19 in Balad, Iraq of a non-combat related incident. U.S. Army spokesperson Capt. Michael Meyer described the non-combat incident as a “medical” issue. Gandy was assigned to the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Des Moines, Iowa.

“Out of respect for individual privacy, the Army cannot release any medical information without the consent of his next of kin,” said Meyer, who is with the Public Affairs Office of the 103rd command, via e-mail Wednesday from Des Moines.

Gandy entered the military in 1993 and served on active duty for 9 years 4 months. His most recent reenlistment was March 17, 2003 for 6 years in the Army Reserve. He was first deployed to Iraq with the Army’s 411th Engineer Battalion as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom on Jan. 5, 2004 and returned from duty July 3, 2005, according to information provided by Meyer.

A solider from American Samoa, who was a graduate of Marist High School, has died in Iraq but the cause of death is unclear after no details had been released by the U.S. Defense Department as of yesterday. Larry Gandy told Samoa News yesterday that the commander of the local Army Reserve unit visited the family on Friday to inform them about the death of his 35-year old son, Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy, whose wife and children live in Wisconsin.

Staff Sgt. Gandy’s remains arrived back on U.S. soil Saturday night on board a military aircraft that landed at Dover Air Force Base (AFB) in Delaware, according to the U.S. Armed Forces Mortuary public affairs office, which told Samoa News yesterday that “Staff Sgt. Gandy’s remains are being positively identified here at Dover AFB and will be prepared for return home.”

The office also stated that it cannot release any information on when the remains will return home, adding that the family and the fallen soldier’s unit have been notified, and they can release that information to the media, if they prefer.

The Department of Defense announced the death of Gandy, who was supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq, according to The Associated Press in a brief photo caption when the fallen Toa o Samoa arrived at Dover AFB, but the Defense Department did not have any information posted on its website as of yesterday afternoon about Staff Sgt. Gandy.

At the tarmac at Dover, a brief prayer was given by Chaplain Lt. Col. Douglas Arendsee, according to the AP photo caption.

“It is my son’s wishes to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Larry Gandy, a U.S. Air Force retiree. “He is a very good son and we’ll miss him a lot.”
He is hoping to get more information on the cause of death as funeral services are pending at this point.

Gandy said his son opted to join the military right after his graduation from Marist High School. “This was his second tour of Iraq,” he said in a telephone interview, noting that his son had been deployed to Iraq once before.

The November newsletter for the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, in Tomah, Wis. indicates that Gandy is a member of the congregation, with a message on the newsletter for the church members to keep in their prayers Gandy and two other soldiers who are on deployment.

According to Samoa News story archives, it was in May 1994 that Larry and his wife Uti traveled to South Carolina to attend Loleni’s graduation from boot camp.

Staff Sgt. Gandy is survived by his wife and four children; his parents; and a brother and sister. The fallen soldier’s parents currently reside at Tafeta and also have a home in Lauli’i.

With the death of Staff Sgt. Gandy, the number of fallen Toa o Samoa since the start of the Iraq war in 2003 followed by the Afghanistan conflict has reached 18, according to Samoa News records based on information from family members and the Pentagon.

Samoa News extends our condolences to Staff Sgt. Gandy’s family at this time of sorrow and sadness.

His wife Faauta and four children - ages 12, 13, 19 and 20 - reside in Wisconsin.

Army Staff Sgt. Loleni W. Gandy was killed in a non-combat related incident on 11/19/10.

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