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Trio carry brotherhood to the Marine Corps

By MATTHEW WHEATON | The Register-Mail | Published: August 27, 2017

GALESBURG, Ill. (Tribune News Service) -- Three former Galesburg High School football players are enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and they'll head to the recruit depot in San Diego on Sept. 11.

Jason Kelly, Gabe Magnison and Paul Mangieri are 2017 GHS grads who as seniors played roles in the Silver Streaks' 8-3 season -- the school's winningest in 25 years -- which included an upset of Class 5A's No. 1 ranked Peoria Central and the school's first playoff victory in history.

Mangieri, a former linebacker, and Magnison, a former safety/fullback, have always dreamed of being Marines. Mangieri talked to Kelly, a former defensive end/wideout, about the military and he decided to enlist, as well.

Kelly had a few options but couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to play college football or not.

"I had a stalemate with myself of what I wanted to do. I knew I love football, at least high school football, and I didn't know how playing on Saturday mornings would be compared to Friday Night Lights," Kelly said. "I was just at a stalemate and I was talking with my buddy Paul in class and within five or 10 minutes I made the decision to join and never looked back from that."

Kelly had an idea of what being a Marine was like beforehand. His brother, Daniel Dotson, was a sergeant when he came out of active duty.

Magnison's father also was a Marine and Mangieri has several members of his family who have served or are serving in the military.

And Staff Sgt. Peter VanDyken said the trio is like a family.

"What I like about them is they are a family," VanDyken said of Kelly, Magnison and Mangieri. "They were a family before they even stepped foot in my office and I know they are going to make a great addition to the brotherhood of the Marine Corps.

"They've been preparing for this their whole lives because they've always done everything together. That's pretty awesome."

And Kelly, Magnison and Mangieri are glad they'll be able to lean on each other.

"These are my friends and I'm going to get to experience bootcamp with them," Mangieri said. "I know we can push each other and feed off each other and just keep getting better. We will keep motivating each other."

"Just going in by yourself, you are worried about meeting new people and having two friends go with me takes a lot of burden off my shoulders," Kelly said.

Magnison agrees with his friends.

"They are like brothers," he said. "A lot of people go alone and you don't know anybody there but we can feed off each other and push each other. All in all it should be fun."

They'll apply what they learned on the gridiron while serving our country.

"When you're on the field, there are 11 guys and you can't all just do your own thing. You have to work as one unit to get the job done and it's the same with the Marine Corps," Magnison said. "You can't just have one guy out stacking bodies and shooting ISIS. You have to have the whole squad."

"One person can get things done but with a group of people you can accomplish anything," Mangieri said.

(c) 2017 The Register-Mail. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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