By Kate Raddatz

EXCELSIOR, Minn. (WCCO) — The family and friends of a fallen marine from Minnesota are finally sharing his story a year after his death.

Sgt. Dillon Semolina was one of 12 marines killed on Jan. 14 last year when their helicopter collided with another helicopter off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

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“It didn’t make sense,” Michael Herzog, a friend, said. “Unbelievable.”

On Saturday, family, friends, and strangers came together for a “Hero WOD” (Workout Of the Day) at the Crossfit SISU facility in Excelsior to honor the Delano High school grad who always knew he wanted to be in the military.

“He’d stay back and take care of his brothers and he would be the last out of the water,” Mike De La Cruz, Sgt. Semolina’s dad, said.

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The event was one of four happening at Crossfit facilities across the state in Sgt. Semolina’s honor. The 24-year-old’s family and friends say the exterior of the 6’2″ marine nicknamed “Semi” was more intimidating than the person.

“He had the heart of an angel,” De La Cruz said.

For Sgt. Semolina’s family, talking about the accident is painful, but giving back has been healing. They’ve been working with Flags For Fallen Military to give families a flag in honor of their sons or daughters who have died while serving.

“Everybody has come together throughout this entire tragedy and have shown their support and their love for our local Minnesotan in so many different ways,” De La Cruz said.

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If you’d like to donate to the Flags For Fallen Military, you can find information here.

Kate Raddatz