Ian Herold-Namu recently graduated from Southern Oregon University with a degree in outdoor adventure leadership. In January, he’ll take his Basic Officer Leadership Course for the Oregon Army National Guard, and then join the 1-82 Cavalry in Bend as an officer specializing in armor.
But in the meantime, he’s helping recruiter SFC Sheri Hoddle of Roseburg with a new program that aims to recruit American Samoans as future guard officers. The program helps the students enroll in Southern Oregon University and in the guard’s Reserve Officer Training Program there, and then pays for their tuition.
Ian Herold-Namu joined the guard before the current recruitment drive. He grew up in Hawaii, but his dad moved there from American Samoa. So he knows the Samoan culture well enough to see that kids who’ve grown up there will make great National Guard recruits.
American Samoa is a U.S. territory on five islands and two coral atolls in the South Pacific. It’s a traditional culture, with families and villages run by chiefs and each generation taught to respect the generations older than themselves. At dinnertime, the elders eat first, and the children last.
Honor and respect for elders are values that run deep in Samoan culture, Herold-Namu said, and that’s great preparation for the Army, where honor and respect are core values.
“They already have a few of the Army values instilled in them. That is just a great foundation for making better leaders,” he said.
Herold-Namu said the diversity these new recruits bring to Oregon will be valuable. He said he’s optimistic about the program, and wishes it had started while he was in school. He said Pacific Islanders from Samoa, Hawaii, Tonga and Fiji gravitate toward each other at school and form community.
“It’ll be nice having a bigger community. I’m super optimistic about it,” he said.
Educational opportunities for Samoan young adults are limited. Hoddle said there’s one community college in Samoa, and no university. Hoddle said this program will enable students to get “off the rock, as they say.”
Students recruited to the program will focus first and foremost on their studies, Hoddle said. After graduation, they’ll hold down a job in the field of their choice, while serving as a National Guard officer one weekend a month plus two weeks in the summer.
Hoddle first visited American Samoa in February, and went again in April and August. So far, about 30 students there have expressed interest in joining the program. Hoddle said she became a recruiter because she loves helping kids figure out what their goals are, and then helping them achieve them. The Samoan recruitment is another way for her to do that.
“I’m just so excited to see what they do with it, how they’re going to grow and be leaders that bring some really valuable training and culture to our communities. And some of them will go back home and be able to bring some of that to their home as well,” she said. “I’m really excited to see how this goes.”