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Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Fita-Fita Guard

World War II

Originally called the Samoan Naval Militia in 1900, the Fita-Fita Guard served the U.S. Navy on American Samoa until 1951.  Fita-Fita is the Samoan word for soldier.   The island's location, along with the vital and vulnerable US-Australian supply line in early 1942, meant the territory had to be held to allow the flow of men and supplies west.  Expanded during World War II, Fita-Fita Sailors manned anti-aircraft batteries, and other positions around the U.S. Naval Station Tutuila.   After the unit was disbanded in 1951, members of the Fita-Fita Guard who wished to stay in the Navy, transferred to the Naval Reserve.  The guard wore a naval version of the traditional attire, a wrap called lava lava, and the traditional headdress, along with a military issued undershirt and no shoes. 

Other Resources:

NHHC Asian American-Pacific Islanders Focus

A replica of a Fita-Fita uniform is on display in the Cold War Gallery, Bldg. 70, of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.  

Image:  80-G-300962:  The Fita-Fita Guard and Band of the U.S. Navy, 1944.   Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. Navy.