July 29, 2016
At The/Studio we love to introduce our community to true American Heroes. Robert Kava is that of an American Giant. Mr. Kava is a Captain in the United States Army, who wears his patriotism on his sleeves. We are beyond honored to have had the opportunity to interview Robert Kava. This is a man who is committed to his unit and to serving our beautiful country.
The/Studio: Introduce yourself. Tell our readers a little bit about who you are!
Robert: My name is Robert Kava, I’m a Captain in the United States Army, and a Paratrooper from 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (AFAR). I am from American Samoa, and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2012. I played football for the Army Black Knights, and majored in American Legal Studies. I graduated from Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course (FABOLC) at Ft. Sill, OK, followed by graduating from the United States Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA, and reported to my first duty station at Fort Brag, NC; home of the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations.
I was a Company Fire Support Officer (FSO) for Bravo Company, 1-325th Airborne Infantry Regiment (AIR), Battery Fire Direction Officer (FDO) for Alpha Battery, 2-319 AFAR, and recently completed my Platoon Leader time for 2nd Platoon, A/2-319 AFAR. I’m currently the Battalion’s Civil-Military liaison officer (Special Projects and Family Readiness Leader), awaiting my Captains Career Course for Psychological Operations (PSYOP).
The/Studio: Wow! You have accomplished a lot! What is your MOS?
Robert: I am a 13A (Field Artillery Officer).
The/Studio: How long have you served in the Military?
Robert: I have been in the army for just over 4 years.
The/Studio: What inspired you to join the Military?
Robert: My older brother attended the West Point and helped push me in that direction, it wasn’t until I was shuffled into a room with my classmates on day 1 of Cadet Basic Training, did I truly realize being an army officer is exactly who I wanted to be. My paratroopers, as well as servicemen and women, inspire me daily.
The/Studio: What about being in the Military are you most proud of? (there is a lot to be proud of.)
Robert: I’m proud of being an airborne paratrooper in 2nd Battalion, 319 AFAR, but even more proud of being able to lead Paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division. With Fort Bragg being my first post, I’ve only known the airborne way and being with Paratroopers, but that is not to say the soldiers and leaders I’ve met with in other units haven’t impacted my professional development in a positive way as well. I am proud to be amongst servicemen and women of all branches of the military.
The/Studio: Have you earned any special badges or medals?
Robert: The only badge I am wearing on my uniform is my airborne wings I’ve earned after graduating from Airborne school at Fort Benning, GA. I have earned multiple Army Achievement Medals as a Fire Direction Officer, and an Army Commendation Medal as a Platoon Leader.
The/Studio: What are some of the greatest challenges you face?
Robert: My sergeant counterparts are going to laugh at me if they read this, but one of my greatest challenges I’ve had to deal with is keeping up with my Paratroopers and senior non-commissioned officers. The learning curve for a young lieutenant, fresh out of airborne or ranger school, in the 82nd Airborne, is steep! My Paratroopers and platoon sergeants are light years ahead of me in maturity and expertise, I only have one shot, to earn their initial trust and respect; “this officer can actually learn something!” I say initial trust and respect because I have to continually earn their trust and respect, daily. That means showing up way ahead of time, in the right uniform, with something to write with and something to write on, and learn. Once they begin to trust you, then they can begin to teach you. Most of my greatest lessons learned during my young career as a field artillery officer, have come from my non-commissioned officers and young Paratroopers.
The/Studio: What type of legacy do you want to leave?
Robert: Simply, to have my Paratroopers and NCO’s know that I cared about them. It won’t bother me if I was not their best platoon leader, or best officer they’ve ever come across, as long as they know that they can still count on me for anything, I’ll be fine with that legacy.
The/Studio: Tell us about your unit.
Robert: 2-319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment is stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Lead by LTC Daniel Gibson, the Black Falcons is composed of three howitzer batteries (2xM119A3 105mm howitzer, 1xM777A2 155mm howitzer), a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), and a Forward Support Company (Foxtrot Company). We are 400 strong, eager and able Paratroopers, trained and proficient in our artillery tasks and drills. 2-319th AFAR provides 2nd Brigade Combat Team with timely and accurate fires. As part of the Global Response Force, our mission put simply: jump, fight, shoot, shoot fast, shoot accurate.
Robert: This story is three-fold, so bear with me here. The unofficial battle cry of the 2-319th AFAR, “Black Falcons Would Go!”, comes from the native Hawaiian phrase, “Eddie Would Go.” Eddie Aikau was a famous surfer in Hawaii who became the first lifeguard at Waimea beach; the natives coined the phrase “Eddie Would Go”, in reference to his fearlessness to battle huge waves to make impossible rescues. His fighting spirit mirrors that of my unit; send Black Falcons for tough and dangerous missions, not only would they gladly go, they would excel.
The glider and parachute design dates back to WW2, when my unit was first a part of the 319th Glider Field Artillery Regiment. This patch holds great significance to the history of our armed forces, because there were only a few units designated as Glider Units. Glider paratroopers distinguished themselves from the rest of the airborne units, not only by the patches they wore, but in the manner in which they went into battle; most paratroopers exited a plane individually with a parachute, glider paratroopers exited a plane, in a glider! The Glider had no parachute, and steering was tough, but the idea was to guide the glider to “crash” as safely as possibly, place your weapon into action and take the fight to the enemy. Though this idea sounded great, actual glider operations were truly, a thing of chaotic beauty. The guts and glory of these great American paratroopers lives on through the patch and manifests itself in our young Black Falcon Paratroopers today. Now, actually making a patch, that idea came from my Battalion Commander, LTC Daniel Gibson. He embodies the teamwork mentality, and these patches are small, but good start to bring the battalion together.
The/Studio: That is beautiful! Thank you for telling us the story behind the patches you ordered. What will these patches mean to your unit?
Robert: These patches are a force multiplier, I truly believe that. It is my hope that these patches, but more importantly, what the patches symbolize, becomes that which inspires our Paratroopers to perform mountains above what they thought they could achieve. The patch symbolizes many virtues that every Paratrooper can take differently, it is my hope the warrior attribute is one of them.
The/Studio: Why are patches important in the Military? What is their significance?
Robert: When you go through a shared struggle with a group of people in your unit, patches become one of the many things that strengthen your bonds and ties with that unit. Patches promote pride and espirit de corps with your unit, thus driving other units to better themselves, and vice versa. Patches are these tiny symbols of hope that make Paratroopers hungry to get to the ground faster, because these patches represent their friends, their battle buddies, their families.
The/Studio: Is there anything our community can do to help your unit and our Military?
Robert: Spread the word: 2-319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment is ready to jump, fight, and win tonight! If there is an order too tall, an order too difficult, a mission too great, call Black Falcons: They would Go. Some free collar’d shirts would be nice too!