Maureen and Dan Costello Sr. are proud parents of two daughters and three sons, residing in Pearl River.
At just 22 years of age, Kylie is already making a difference as a volunteer EMT. Meanwhile, Tara is currently a high school student at Albertus Magnus, where she has the privilege of learning from Maureen in the theology department.
Danny, Jimmy, and Johnny are the nicknames used by Dan Jr., James, and John respectively. Dan Jr. is 24 years old, James is 20, and John is 18.
The moniker “Marine” is used to refer to all three of the Costello brothers.
Danny holds the rank of 2nd lieutenant, while Jimmy has recently been promoted to the position of corporal. Meanwhile, Johnny, who has just completed his boot camp training at Parris Island in South Carolina, has moved on to infantry training at Camp Geiger in North Carolina, where he currently serves as a private.
Danny and Johnny, two brothers from Pearl River, a neighborhood close to the Jersey line, sat down on their parents’ back deck on a sunny fall afternoon to discuss their decision to join up. Although Johnny was running late from a class at SUNY Rockland, he later apologized and answered a few questions via email.
A Group Committed to Service and Sacrifice
The Costello siblings were not following a family custom of wearing the Marine Corps’ eagle, globe, and anchor symbol.
The Costellos may not have had a strong military background, despite having an uncle who is a Marine and some distant relatives. However, things changed when all three sons joined the Marine Corps. According to the brothers, it was a personal decision rather than a family tradition. It was more about where they grew up and who raised them that influenced their decision to enlist. It was their own calling.
Danny expressed that the Pearl River community is known for its culture of service and selflessness, with numerous first responders residing in the area, including firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers. He felt a sense of admiration towards these individuals who were willing to make sacrifices for the greater good of the community.
One of the family members who served in the police force was their father, Det. Sgt. Daniel Costello Sr. He had an impressive 32-year career with the Orangetown Police Department, and prior to that, he spent some time with the New York City Housing Police.
The detective father calmly responded to the news, “To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. Our children have always been independent and capable of making their own choices. My wife and I are incredibly proud of the decisions they’ve made, especially when it comes to serving their country. It’s an honorable decision and we fully support them in their endeavors.” His words were filled with admiration and respect for his children’s choices.
According to them, there wasn’t a sudden realization that came to them. They believed that growing up in Rockland, and being part of the Pearl River community, made it a natural part of their upbringing.
According to Danny, there wasn’t a single defining moment or conversation where he decided what he wanted to do in life. Instead, he and his peers always knew that they wanted to make a positive impact on others. It was a shared goal that they had from the beginning, and it continues to drive them forward.
As siblings of a firefighter and an EMT, and with a father in law enforcement, they had many career paths to choose from. They could have easily followed in their family’s footsteps and become firefighters, EMTs, or police officers.
Beating the Path to Parris Island and Quantico
The Marine Corps was the clear choice for all three of them. Johnny and Jimmy didn’t hesitate, and within a couple of weeks of graduating from Pearl River High School, they were on their way to Parris Island.
After graduating in 2021, Jimmy wasted no time and headed straight to Parris Island, blazing a trail for others to follow. Within just two weeks of graduation, he was on his way to his next adventure.
When asked about his decision to join the Marines and serve his country, he confidently stated that it was an easy choice for him. Despite not knowing exactly when he would enlist, he always knew that this was his calling. As his junior year at Pearl River High School approached, he felt that the timing was right and decided to take the leap of faith.
As he reminisced, he fondly recalled how his friends never doubted his decision to join. “No one ever questioned what I did,” he said with a smile. “Although they knew I had always wanted to enlist, I don’t think they believed I would actually go through with it. But they were always supportive and knew that this was something I truly desired.”
He admitted that “People definitely looked at me differently for it,” but he didn’t let it affect him.
Upon his arrival at boot camp, he admitted to feeling a sense of uncertainty about what lay ahead. However, he quickly realized that his apprehension was unfounded, and the experience wasn’t as daunting as he had anticipated. Nonetheless, the fear of the unknown lingered in the back of his mind.
A Strong Indicator
After completing his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas Aquinas College, Danny took a significant step in his life by enrolling in Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. This was around the same time when Jimmy was graduating from Pearl River High. Danny considers the day he reported for training, i.e., September 11, as a crucial moment in his life.
Danny, a New Yorker, found great significance in leaving on September 11th exactly 20 years after the tragic event. According to him, it was a powerful sign that conveyed a sense of greater purpose. “That was very powerful for me,” he affirmed. “I kind of felt like, ‘OK, God’s telling me that we’re doing this for a reason.'”
It’s not typical for people in this area to choose a career in the military after finishing high school.
In his graduating class, Jimmy was the lone student who signed up for wrestling. On the other hand, Johnny, who was into wrestling, hurdles, and pole vaulting during his high school days, shared that he was one of two students who opted for a military path. Daniel Hooker, the other student, is two weeks behind Johnny and is expected to complete his boot camp on October 20. Meanwhile, Danny, who was a theater enthusiast, graduated from St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale back in 2017. He’s uncertain whether any of his peers joined the military.
According to Danny, their shared passions for wrestling, track, and theater during high school taught them an important lesson that translates well to the Marine Corps. They learned that every member of a team plays a crucial role in achieving the mission, and if one part of the team is weaker than the others, it can jeopardize the entire operation. This understanding has helped them to work effectively as a cohesive unit in the Marines.
Danny is a platoon commander responsible for leading a team of 47 Marines in Echo Company of the Fourth Light Armored Reconnaissance. Interestingly, his younger brother, Jimmy, is also a part of the unit and drives a light armored vehicle. The unit is stationed in Syracuse, and Johnny aims to specialize in becoming a mortarman by focusing on his infantry training.
Jimmy and Danny both serve in the Marine Reserves, dedicating one weekend a month and an extended summer period to training. However, Danny is soon to embark on a year of active duty at 29 Palms in California, situated near the Mojave Desert.
As they embark on their journeys as Marines, they carry a piece of Rockland with them. This special place has played a significant role in shaping their identity and ultimately guiding them towards their chosen paths in life.
Danny shared that Rockland, being the smallest county in New York, fosters a stronger sense of community compared to others. He mentioned that he and his companions were drawn to a challenge and were not willing to take the easy route.
Following tradition, to the letter
Throughout boot camp, the use of cellphones is strictly prohibited. As a result, the Costellos were only able to stay in touch with Johnny through written letters.
Thanks to Jimmy, he was well aware of what to expect.
According to Johnny, his physical fitness and understanding of the upcoming activities played a vital role in his success. “That helped me tremendously,” he said.
A connection to service
Danny remarked that tradition is deeply ingrained in the Corps at Officer Candidate School, even in the way they run.
During his time in Quantico, he participated in what is known as a Medal of Honor run. The run involves stopping at various stations along the way and reading the citation of a Marine who had previously received the Medal of Honor. Being on bases where streets are named after heroic and courageous Marines, he felt a strong connection to those who came before him.
For 13 weeks of boot camp, they didn’t hear his voice, and the only way to stay connected was through letters. However, they remained loyal to one another: Semper Fidelis. One of the pictures depicts Johnny, surrounded by his fellow Marines, who now share a new bond – that of the United States Marine Corps.