Fita Fita Guard around 1907.
(Photograph Courtesy of Ms. Karen Wheat)
 
The Fita Fita Barracks as they looked in 1988.

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Fita Fita Barracks

The Fita Fita Barracks is a large two-story white building with an arched Mission Revival-style first-floor veranda, which now houses the Department of Public Safety. This building was built in 1908 by the Fita Fita Guard as its barracks. The feast that followed its dedication ceremony was one of the largest ever given in Samoa. Guests consumed over 25,000 articles of food. The Fita Fita Barracks is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Tutuila Naval Station Historic District.

The Fita Fita Guard

The first commandant of the naval station was Commander Benjamin F. Tilley, U.S.N. One of Tilley's first requests to the Navy Department was for permission to enlist Samoans as landsmen in the U.S. Navy. He was authorized to enlist 58 men for four years, and the Fita Fita Guard and Band was begun. By World War II the Fita Fita (Samoan for soldier) counted 100 men in its ranks. Samoans regarded the Fita Fita as an elite group, and the men served with pride and dignity. Most reenlisted, making the Navy their career. They served as seamen aboard the station ship, radiomen, crews for small boats, on guard and orderly duty. The Fita Fita Band held concerts four times a week on the parade ground. When the Navy left American Samoa after World War II, most of the Fita Fita transferred to Hawaii (the first significant out-migration of American Samoans to the U.S.).