Family: Making it when 'we were married to the Marine Corps'

Family: Making it when 'we were married to the Marine Corps'
(Source: Andrea & Dan Gillan)
(Source: Andrea & Dan Gillan)
Dan & Andrea Gillan's son, Jared (Source: WALB)
Dan & Andrea Gillan's son, Jared (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - WALB News 10's Re-Essa Buckels spent time at Parris Island, South Carolina to get a glimpse of how Marines are made.

While there, she witnessed the emotional toll military life can have on families.

Re-Essa spoke with one Albany family that's been married for more than 30 years.

Most military families have trouble staying together, but Dan and Andrea Gillan are still going strong.

The Gillans love their pug Zoro but the love they share for each other, and the Marine Corps is indescribable.

"We were married to the marine corps and the marine corps was a spouse to us. It was just amazing," said Andrea.

Dan met his high school sweetheart, Andrea, at the tender age of 17.

After graduating, Dan enlisted.

"I wanted to delay getting married until I was promoted to Corporal because I wanted to wear my dress blues," remarked Dan.

And one year later, while stationed in Hawaii, the two tied the knot.

They said communication was key to their longevity.

"The important thing was to try to keep the romance there, which I think we managed whether I was overseas," explained Dan.

But the real work came after losing their two daughters to cancer.

"That's Megan before she died, Dan's just such a dad, he was there for every moment," said Andrea.

Their faith and network of friends helped them not only get through it, but to not give up on parenting.

Andrea showed off old photos, "here's Dan and Jared goofing off like they always do," she pointed out.

The Gillans later adopted Abbey and Jared.

And Jared quickly took to his father.

"It's actually really awesome, it actually reminded me of when I first got to bootcamp at Parris Island," said Jared.

Having followed in his father's footsteps, Jared is now U.S. Marine Private First Class.

"I couldn't have done it if it weren't for my parents and setting that strong family backbone," explained Jared.

"Here's Dan and I when he graduated from bootcamp. This picture was taken in 1977," said Andrea.

And 38 years later, for their son's graduation, their bond is still unbreakable.

Dan Gillan is a retired colonel who now works at the YMCA as Chief Executive Officer and President.

He said all of the skills he gained in the military has helped him succeed in his current role.

Buckels will have another story about the history of Parris Island on Tuesday at 11 p.m.

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