Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

President Bush visits Specialist Bermanis

Washington, D.C. (FSM Embassy to the US): September 19, 2003 - On September 11, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visited Specialist Hilario Bermanis along with other wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

President Bush and First Lady's visit was in conjunction with the September 11 anniversary ceremonies held throughout Washington D.C. The President expressed his gratitude for the service and sacrifice that Specialist Bermanis has given for this country. He commended the fine example Specialist Bermanis portrays of all the other Micronesian citizens who serve in the Armed Forces fighting for democracy and freedom.

The visit ended with President Bush presenting a presidential coin to Spec. Bermanis and referenced the soldier's upcoming induction on September 17 for US citizenship.

Hilario Bermanis Sr. reciprocated the gift with lapel pins of the flags of the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia to the President and First Lady and extended an invitation to them to visit his home island of Pohnpei.

Bermanis Sr. continued with expressions of appreciation for the Walter Reed doctors and personnel for the excellent care given to his son, especially Dr. Donald A. Gajewski, who performed the surgery and Barbara Green of Red Cross. He also complimented Ambassador Larry M. Dinger and staff of the US Embassy in Pohnpei for their efficiency in reuniting the family. The father expressed the family's gratitude for the soldiers whose rapid response saved his son's life.

Specialist Bermanis of the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division was wounded on June 10 2003, when him and his partner where attacked with rocket launched grenades while guarding a weapons turn-in point in Iraq. His partner was killed instantly and Specialist Bermanis lost his left arm and both legs.

A month later, Spec. Bermanis was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for Meritorious Conduct in the Iraq War. A special ceremony is being organized for September 17, by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs - Anthony Prinipi and his staff, to award Bermanis US citizenship.

On his way to recovery, Spec. Bermanis has been fitted for prosthetics and has also received an automated wheelchair from the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs. About his future plans, Specialist Bermanis said educational pursuit is at the forefront of his plans.

On the occasion of President Bush's visit, Specialist Bermanis was with his father - Bermanis, Sr. and family friend and First Secretary of the FSM Embassy in Washgington, Tanya Harris Joshua.

Bermanis's other visitors have included the Secretary of Defense - Mr. Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - General Richard B. Myers and Mrs. Myers, Director of Joint Staff - General George W. Casey, the Acting Secretary of the Army - Mr. Les Brownlee, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Matters) - William Winkenwerder, Jr., Congressman Tim Ryan and Mrs. Ryan, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Frank Wolf, Congressman Bill Young and Mrs. Young, among many others.

Numerous friends from Fort Bragg, North Carolina have visited him, including the wives of his Company officials. A mother of a fellow soldier in Iraq, Susan Kennedy Witt, drove all the way from Ohio to pay him a visit in Washington D.C.

The family has expressed appreciation for the generous assistance and services extended on behalf of their son by visitors, Walter Reed and Fisher House personnel since June.

There are approximately 1000 FSM citizens in the US armed services (total FSM population is roughly 107,000).

During Desert Storm/Gulf War in 1991 (just as the FSM was joining the international community through UN membership), the FSM had among the highest per capita enlistment of any other allied nation that participated.

These FSM armed service enlistments are made possible through the unique Compact relationship, and which is currently being extended for the next twenty years through HJ Res. 63 being considered by the Congress at this time. Adoption of the new Compact agreement must be completed by 30 September 2003.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356