Fallen Hero SGT Dillon J. Semolina, US Marine Corp

SGT Dillon J. Semolina

November 22, 1991 - January 14, 2016
US Marine Corp

This bio is written by Dillon’s mother Lisa.

"Dillon Joseph Semolina was born Nov 22nd, 1991 in Buffalo MN. I will never forget holding him for the first time after a difficult breech delivery. He certainly made a statement while entering this world. He was going to make his mark and most certainly did so throughout his life.

Dillon was a very curious and active young child; he enjoyed the outdoors, animals, sports, reading and spending time with his family. Starting at age 10 he drew pictures of himself in a military uniform, saluting, with a caption 'Yes, Sir'. At that age, he was thinking and talking about protecting and shielding America from harm. Dillon felt he could do anything. That confidence and belief in himself would shape the rest of his life. I can honestly say I have never seen Dillon fearful of trying anything. In high school this occasionally landed him in the Principal’s office! His strong beliefs and standards in exercise and health quickly put him on football, basketball, and golf teams. Dillon often described his body as a ‘temple’ and treated it as such. He exercised religiously and although he was 6’4” and 210 lbs, his heart was so tender. Military recruiters were often at the school trying to recruit him because they saw something in Dillon in how he carried himself.

After his high school graduation Dillon pondered his direction in life. He wanted to do something and be someone that made a difference. Dillon’s first 'real' job was in the mess hall for the 934th Airlift Wing on the Air Force Reserve base in Minneapolis. With the idea of joining the military he began acquiring more information from both the Air Force and the Marine Corp.

Dillon joined the Marine Corp on Sept 12th 2011 signing for 5 years - one year more than typical contracts as he needed a year of flight school. We will never forget saying Goodbye to him that day; I would say this was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. He excelled as a Marine becoming the Company Guide in boot camp and receiving a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal. Once a crew chief for the CH-53E Helicopter, he was recognized for his professionalism, sense of direction, and leadership skills which quickly promoted him to Corporal, and then Sergeant. He was so respected by his flight line, the bonds were impenetrable.

Dillon tragically left us on Thursday January 14th 2016 after a collision with another helicopter during a routine CH-53E night training mission on Marine Corp Base Hawaii. He would never hesitate to give the shirt off his back, or to protect anyone in harm’s way. His heart and compassion were overwhelmingly beautiful. Dillon’s future was to be an anesthesiologist after he finished his tour with the Marine Corps this coming September, 2016. His plans were to start school this fall and start his general studies. His success in these subjects would have been extraordinary as he never quit anything that challenged him. He made sure what he did accomplish was so complete that it left his signature mark for others to feel and learn from. His motivation, dedication, and smile live on through all the lives that he touched. Dillon we love and miss you dearly."

The following is a poem written by Dillon when he was ten years old:

"I would give the poor money to live on without making them working for it. By asking other people who care and give some money to the poor. And get them new clothes for them.

I would make the weak and unhealthy people be strong and healthy. By getting medicine for the people who need some. Also I will give them extra food that is good for them to make them strong and healthy.

I would restore the animals that are extinct by asking the scientists to create DNA for the animals. And try to create a hunting shield to protect the animals. And let them live in one safe nation.

And I would let there be no more wars so everyone can be happy and safe. By getting shields for America and other countries so everybody can be safe in their country forever."

Dillon Semolina

Portrait sponsored by:
Lance Cpl. Curtis M. Swenson Memorial Fund, Rochester, MN