111th Attack Wing officer selected to join Air Force team in championship rugby match

  • Published
  • By Mr. Jon Dahms

BIDDLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania Air National Guard officer assigned to the 111th Attack Wing here, has been selected to represent the Department of the Air Force as a member of its rugby team during the 2022 Armed Forces Men’s Rugby Championship to be held at Glendale, Colorado August 14-22, 2022.

“It is truly an honor to represent the 111th Attack Wing and the Air National Guard as part of the Air Force rugby team,” said Capt. Soosoo Taulelei, Director of Personnel Services for the 111th Force Support Squadron, a subordinate unit of the 111th ATKW. “I’m humbled by the selection and will do my best to help the Air Force team in its pursuit of the championship trophy.”

Taulelei’s interest in rugby goes back to the days when he was playing college basketball for Rutgers University.

“I was actually playing college ball for Rutgers from 2010 to 2012,” Taulelei said. “Some friends at Rutgers asked if I’d be interested in playing rugby for fun during the off season, and after playing my first game against Princeton University, I was hooked.”

Having no looks from the National Basketball Association after college, Taulelei was recruited into the Army’s officer candidate program, went through officer candidate school in Ft. Benning, GA and was commissioned in the Army as a 2nd Lt. in 2013.

“So I served in the Army National Guard from 2013 to 2020,” Taulelei said. “I was a member of the All-Army Rugby Team from 2014 to 2017.”

In June 2020, Taulelei and his wife made the decision to move back near her family in Pennsylvania which led to his transition from the Army National Guard to the Air National Guard and an assignment with the 111th ATWK.

“I ended up getting a technician job with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard which required me to transfer my commission from the Army to the Air Force,” Taulelei said. “So I took the oath as an Air National Guard officer in June 2020.

Taulelei is now focused on the competition ahead.

“Having played in this championship before with the Army, I kind of know what to expect,” Taulelei said. “I’m preparing myself and looking forward to competing against the other services, other professional teams from across the U.S., and international Armed Forces teams from England, Fiji, Australia and other countries.”