UNITED BY THE DUTY TO SERVE

Thai Dang, Joe Morgalis and Pamela Custis all served in the U.S. military at different points of their lives. The three represent a few of the many brave men and women who have defended our nation and sacrificed so much to protect our freedom.

Dang and Morgalis both served in the U.S. Army, while Custis served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Each one of them have been stationed in different parts around the world, from Germany to Hawaii to Korea to the Philippines. Neither is a Georgia native but the Peach State is a place they’ve called home for a long time. Dang was born in South Vietnam and moved to Georgia when he was 11 years-old, spending three years of service in Fort Stewart in Hinesville, GA. Margalis moved to Roswell, Georgia in 1982 from his native Baltimore, Maryland. Curtis hails from Chicago, Illinois, where she recalls being an avid Chicago sports fan growing up. “I’m a Chicago Bears fan and Walter Peyton, and basketball and Michael Jordan, those were my heroes during my time.” Custis currently resides in Smyrna and has been living in Georgia for 22 years.

Though they are all from different states, each share the years of service they served in the military. Another similarity amongst the veterans is their love for soccer. Dang compares soccer to the military in that it is a team effort where all players have to work together to accomplish the goal. Margolis is an Atlanta United fan and has been to several matches, but his love for soccer goes beyond being a 17. He’s also a soccer referee and for the past 22 years has refereed all levels of soccer, including the college level. Custis admits to not watching much soccer growing up as at the time Chicago didn’t have a professional soccer team, but she has been following the 5-Stripes since the team played its first season in Major League Soccer back in 2017.

Another similarity the three veterans share is that they are part of a group to be the first to wear Atlanta United’s 2022 Pre-Match Camo Top, a camouflage-designed top that is part of a league-wide initiative to show appreciation for the U.S. military. Not only were they the first to get their hands on the camo tops, but they also served as models in a photoshoot for them. The group met up with Atlanta United’s digital team at Victory Park in Marietta, Georgia for about an hour in which they talked about their military experience and posed for a series of photos wearing the new pre-match threads. Though all part of Soldiers’ Angels, they were all meeting each other for the first time, but by the energy of the photoshoot one would think they’ve known each other for a long time. Giggles, laughter, and smiles were widely present during the duration of the photo session.

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The group was chosen as beneficiaries of Soldiers’ Angels, a food assistance program that provides an easy, no-cost way for Atlanta veterans in-need to receive food assistance. The program provides 75 pounds of groceries to over 200 low-income and at-risk veterans and their families – totaling nearly 15,000 pounds of food per food distribution event, per month. The bags of food contain fresh produce and meats in addition to non-perishable food items. Two new locations will be added this year in East Point and Covington, with the goal of extending its reach beyond just the Downtown Atlanta area.

Atlanta United has sponsored the program’s initiatives since 2019, providing volunteers to assist in food packing and its distribution. The club will team up with Soldiers’ Angels again at the next mobile food distribution on Friday, August 26th as part of our Salute our Troops platform, presented by Global Payments.

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Atlanta United will wear the Camo Pre-Match Tops for the club’s home match against Seattle Sounders on Saturday, August 6, where the club will be celebrating its Military Appreciation Night.

“It’s great what the team did in involving veterans in this photoshoot and everything the team does for Soldiers’ Angels. Any effort to help veterans is great,” Morgalis says.

For more information on Soldiers’ Angels and to learn how you can register to receive assistance or support food distribution efforts, visit the Soldiers’ Angels website.