BARRIGADA, Guam – In the early morning chill of winter in Fort Benning Georgia, air assault students are on a 12-mile ruck march. Although they all carry the same gear weighing nearly 100 pounds, one student is well ahead of the pack - Sgt. Isaac Balajadia of the 1-294th Infantry Regiment, Guam National Guard.
“I traveled far to get here, and I’m not quitting on myself, my family, or my island,” is what propels Balajadia to the finish.
Upon finishing air assault school with flying colors in 2018, Balajadia says the instructors recommended he apply for a job as an instructor himself.
“So I applied, and I got picked up,” said Balajadia. He recently made time from his busy schedule to share some motivation with us all.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Balajadia: I’m from Sinajana, 25 years old, and a jiujitsu brown belt. I joined the Guard because of the life mentorship I received, and it’s really paying off in my life right now.
What was your experience at air assault school?
Balajadia: The schoolhouse is tough because everyone there is very talented in their own way. So I knew I had to hit the ground running. It was challenging, but I kept remembering the pride of representing all my friends and family back home and representing Guam. One of my biggest challenges at first was the rappelling out of the 64-foot tower. But I found the strength to overcome, and I’ve learned to love it now.
How did you get selected to become an instructor?
Balajadia: I just worked hard and gave 100% to everything, including having one of the fastest ruck times. The instructors at the time encouraged me to come and be an instructor, so I applied and got picked up.
What would you say to the kids from your neighborhood who might want to follow in our footsteps?
Balajadia: Always seek opportunities and never settle for less. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions because that is where you will find growth and development.
Anything else you would like to say?
Balajadia: I’d like to thank my family, mentors, and the battalion leadership, Lt. Col. (David) Santos and Command Sgt. Major (Kenneth) Cruz for believing in me. Thank you for the opportunity!