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12 Marines missing after crash – including MN sergeant – declared dead

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The 12 Marines who have been missing since a helicopter crash during a training mission just over a week ago have been declared deceased, CNN reports.

Two helicopters collided during the flight over Hawaii late Jan. 14 – on board one of them was Sgt. Dillon Semolina, a 24-year-old who went to Delano High School, the Marines said.

Authorities searched through bad weather for days with few results, and suspended the search on Tuesday. The Coast Guard had combed 40,530 square nautical miles in an effort to find the missing Marines.

Semolina's family, thanks in part to a GoFundMe page that helped raise funds, traveled to Hawaii to be there during the search.

On that page, after the Marines announced the missing service members were declared dead, the family asked people to honor Semolina and the 11 other Marines by joining a memorial service, set for 2 p.m. CST.

It's being live streamed on YouTube.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions and investigations but today we'll pause and Celebrate Dillons life. Today Dillon will fly in the arms of the angels," the post says, adding: "We're still praying to recover our Son and bring him home to Minnesota. Just can't leave without him."

According to KITV, Semolina's decorations include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National
Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service
Deployment Ribbon.

His uncle told the Christian Science Monitor Semolina wanted to be a registered nurse when he left the Marines.

“He was waiting to hear from a school he had applied to and was hoping to hear next week,” said Ryan Bachand.

Bachand, a former fishing guide in northern Minnesota, told the Associated Press he will always cherish memories of teaching Dillon how to fish.

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