ALAMEDA, Calif. (Army News Service, July 6, 2007) - Two things stood in the way of Pvt. Daniel Dungca's enlisting in the military: 166 pounds and the lack of a high school diploma.

When he first started out to join the military, Pvt. Dungca stood at 5 feet 7 inches and 391 pounds, and he didn't get a lot of encouragement. But thirteen months later, Pvt. Dungca's goal to become a Soldier turned into reality as he enlisted June 12 and left for basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., June 18.

"I was intimidated because of my weight, so I called recruiters instead of talking to them face to face," said Pvt. Dungca.

Pvt. Dungca met Sgt. Marcus Dozier, a recruiter with the Army Recruiting Office in Alameda in May 2006. By then, he'd lost 18 pounds and weighed 373 pounds.

"Other branches didn't think I was serious," Pvt. Dungca said, "but Sgt. Dozier wanted to give me a chance and see if I was for real."

Sgt. Dozier and the entire recruiting station staff supported him.

"They supported me with praise, guidance and physical support," Pvt. Dungca said. "They gave me that extra push I needed to succeed."

"Daniel presented a challenge in losing the necessary weight, but his demeanor about it was simple," Sgt. Dozier said. "Daniel said, 'Tell me what I need to do, how I can go about doing it, and when to show you I've made progress and it will get done.' Dungca continuously gave 110 percent and my team wanted to match his drive with dedication to his future within the Army."

Dungca, now 26, was born in Guam. His dad was a retired Army Reserve master sergeant. When his dad passed away in 1998, his mom moved Pvt. Dungca and his five siblings to the Bay Area.

While Pvt. Dungca was a business-college graduate who had held various jobs in real estate, he lacked a high school diploma. The Alameda recruiters set him up with the Army's March2Success - a program that assists enrollees in study skills and preparing for English and math testing - and he passed the G.E.D.

"Daniel had good basic math and English skills, but had been out of school for a long time," Sgt. Dozier said. "He needed refresher training and the Army's March2Success program was able to afford him time and opportunity to practice and hone up skills to successfully pass his G.E.D."

Pvt. Dungca's wife, Junida, said she is excited about becoming a military wife and has supported her husband's goal to become a Soldier.

"A long journey has finally come through. I have a Family and I want to take care of that Family," said Pvt. Dungca, dad to Jade Lin, 4, and Dana Rose, 2 months. "I wanted a career and I knew the Army could give that to me."

"The slogan 'Army Strong' directs attention to inner strength, character and belief in the ability to endure with a team to accomplish a mission," Sgt. Dozier said. "Daniel Dungca already had inner strength and character through his past and his upbringing.

"He has earned the right to wear the Army uniform. My team is proud and honored to have been a part of the process," Sgt. Dozier said. "Daniel showed dedication and I promised results. He showed team effort and his goal was reached. As you can see, he stayed the course and now he is Army Strong."

(Cathy Pauley works for the Sacramento Recruiting Battalion in Rancho Cordova, Calif.)