Changing of the Guard

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Life is's a kind of catchphrase for the 119th under Lt. Col. Sam Dalman. No matter the question, it's the answer these troops have given whenever he's addressed them these past 20 months.

He says, he's been living a dream, leading the battalion he enlisted with in 1985. His tenure has been a time of big changes--huge deployments to Guatanamo bay and Iraq, plus fighting low membership numbers that have plagued the National Guard nationwide

He says, "We want to increase strength by 400 in the next 9 months."

Director of Recruitment will be his next mission with the guard. As for his old job, he's handing it off to a man he brought into this battalion

Major Pablo Estrada has simple goals: Bring back the 150 who are deployed safely, take care of their families, and take on whatever else comes the units' way.

He sees the challenges of the past two years as a morale booster for the unit, and though he admits long deployments have chased some away, he looks to the soldier spirit to keep their numbers strong.

"If you take care of soldiers, they'll take care of you," he says.

If you're wondering about that catchphrase, Estrada plans to keep it in action. " Except maybe making it, 'life is still good.'"

He and LTC Dalman both aim for a seamless transition, so the ones they lead can focus on the wars they're fighting abroad.