COLONIA YAP, , FM U.S. Army SSG, B CO, 2D BN, 7TH INFANTRY (TF 42D ID), 3D INFANTRY DIVISION, FORT STEWART GA BAIJI, IRAQ 02/04/2005
Army Staff Sergeant Steven G. Bayow had served 16 years in the Army and was thinking about retiring to Micronesia, where he grew up. “He was talking about it because he’s very much an island boy,” said Bayow’s brother, Mark Mathow. “He has traveled abroad and experienced life … but he still appreciates his home life, the island life.”
Bayou, 42, died Feb. 4, 2005, when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle in Bayji, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA.
He was from Colonia on the island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Mathow said Bayow was one of 14 siblings but the family was very tight knit.
“We have been looking forward to having him around the house when he comes back, so it was really an unexpected call and very hard on the family,” he said. “He has a big family, but we are very close.”
Bayow’s sister, Elizabeth Mizelle, remembered how much her younger brother had been changed by joining the military. “When he joined the military, they really trained him and really changed him,” she said. “He really became respectful and independent. … He’s a good brother.”
Family members said that he was deployed December, 2004 to Iraq for his second tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Bayow’s mother recalled that her son had always wanted to be a soldier. He had always enjoyed playing soldier as a young boy. That opportunity presented itself when the FSM in 1986 ratified a Compact of Free Association with the United States and FSM citizens were eligible to volunteer their services in the United States Armed Forces.
Despite her grief, Bayow’s mother takes comfort in the fact that her son died while doing something that he loved – being a soldier. She also recalls that his joining the Army had really turned his life around. After getting into trouble with the law as a young teenager for mischievous behavior, he approached his mother and told her that he was joining the Army to make something good of his life.
Over 1,000 FSM citizens are on active duty with the U.S. Military. The FSM is a small island country with an estimated population of 107,000, which means that roughly 2% of its populace is enlisted. Article IV of Title 3 of the Compact of Free Association makes FSM citizens eligible to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. They serve as U.S. Soldiers and remain citizens of their respective country. The FSM Congress passed a bill in 2004 for the FSM to observe a National holiday on November 11th of every year as the “FSM Veterans of Foreign Wars Day” to honor those serving.
Bayow was accorded a military burial by the U.S. Military. The U.S. Ambassador to the FSM attended the funeral, representing the President of the United States. He is survived by his mother and several brothers and sisters.