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Dillon J. Semolina, 24

Dillon J. (“D” or “Semi”) Semolina, age 24, of Delano, passed away Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in service to his country, after a collision during a routine CH-53E helicopter night training mission on Marine Corp Base Hawaii.

A celebration of Dillon’s life will take place Friday, Feb. 26 at 12:15 p.m. at Cedar Valley Church, 8600 Bloomington Ave. S., with visitation and lunch prior to the service, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Interment with full military honors will follow the service at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

In lieu of flowers, monetary donations are welcomed to the family or towards a scholarship fund at Delano High School, created in his honor.

Dillon was born Nov. 22, 1991, and graduated from Delano High School in 2010. His strong exercise beliefs and health standards quickly put him on football, basketball, and golf teams; and eventually into the Marine Corps.

Dillon spoke of joining the military since he was 10 years old, and often drew pictures of himself in uniform. He excelled as a Marine, becoming the company guide in boot camp, and earning a meritorious promotion to lance corporal.

Once a crew chief for the CH-53E, he was recognized for his professionalism, sense of direction, and leadership skills, which quickly promoted him to corporal, and eventually sergeant. Dillon was well-respected by his flight line, and their bonds were impenetrable.

Dillon often described his body as a temple, and treated it as such. He exercised religiously and consumed every calorie he needed to continue his strength development. Although very intimidating in person, his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame didn’t match his tender heart. His complete and exclusive love for his mom and siblings was a depth unexplained. Dillon was often referred to as “the biggest teddy bear,” and he would never hesitate to give the shirt off his back, nor to protect anyone in harm’s way. His heart and compassion was overwhelmingly beautiful.

Dillon’s future plan was to be an anesthesiologist after he finished his tour with the Marine Corps this coming September. His success in his general studies would have been extraordinary as he never quit anything that challenged him, and made sure what he did accomplish was so complete that it left his signature on it for others in the future to feel and learn from.

Dillon’s motivation, dedication, and smile will live on through all those he touched.

He is survived by his wife, Laurie; his parents, Mike and Lisa; grandparents; biological father, Kevin; sisters Isabella and Celeste; brothers Gregory and Gabriel; aunts, uncles, several cousins, and extended family and friends.

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