Future Marines

By Carolyn Kessel
Sunday, March 9, 2003

HUDSON -- John Daeke and Mike Gelsomini have pictured themselves on a battlefield since they were 12 years old and used to stalk one another in their back yards, wearing camouflage and carrying handmade wooden guns.

In just a few months, the two teenagers could be in the middle of a real war.

Daeke, a senior at Hudson Catholic High School, and Gelsomini, a senior at Hudson High School, have both enlisted to join the Marines after graduation.

The best friends have no qualms about their decision and are in favor of a war against Iraq.

"I hope we hurry up and get this over with. We can't give Saddam (Hussein) more time...he can't be trusted," Daeke said. "I don't want to sit through 9-11 and watch it happen again."

Gelsomini is just as committed to stopping Hussein, whom he considers a major threat. "I'm excited to go" into the Marines, he said. "I've had my heart set on it."

For Daeke, it was the allure of special helicopters and commercials.

"On the commercials (the Marines) always were `the few and the proud.' They were always like the best."

He plans to start his career working as an aviation mechanic and eventually fly the helicopter he has admired since childhood, the AH-1W Whiskey Cobra.

"It's a pretty gnarly looking helicopter," said Daeke, whose parents served in the Air Force. "There's just something about (those helicopters) that draws me to them."

Gelsomini's only tie to the armed forces is a grandfather who served in the Navy. His parents support the decision, but don't like to talk about his upcoming departure for boot camp in August, he said.

"I think somehow our parents knew it was coming because that was all we showed interest in," Gelsomini said.

Physically, Gelsomini, Daeke and fellow Hudson High School senior John Howes have been preparing for their departure with pull-ups, push-ups and running every Thursday night at physical training.

Mentally, they expect a war. And when it comes, they will be ready.

"There's a pretty good chance we'll go over there. I don't think about it," said Gelsomini. "I'm very determined. If I start something, I finish it."

Daeke said he's not concerned with the dangers of new biological and chemical warfare, especially as a mechanic behind front lines.

"I'll be trained, and I'll know what to do when it happens. There's so much problems in the world, and the U.S. being the wealthiest in the world we should be the ones to clean things up.

"As a government we should be leading the way and disarm the terrorists," he said.

Some girls at school ask him, "Why are you doing this? Why can't you just go to college?" But others are proud, he said.

Being in the military does not mean you are going to die, said Daeke, who said he has considered the risks. "But you can't go in worrying about too many things."

Unfortunately, the two friends will not likely serve together because Gelsomini plans to enter the infantry division.

"That was the only downside, not being together," Daeke said. "It's cool having a best friend in the Marines. We'll see each other from time to time. Knowing he's in the Marines I can get a hold of him."

He cannot wait to leave.

"I get paid to go around the world. I get paid for something I love to do. We're fortunate to grow up in a country where I can follow my dream."