MN Marine's family heads to Hawaii: 'We want our boy, but we're bracing ourselves'


The family of a missing Marine from Minnesota is headed to the Hawaiian beach closest to where two helicopters collided during a training flight late Thursday.

As rescue crews continue the search for a dozen Marines missing since the crash, family members of Sgt. Dillon Semolina thanked donors to a GoFundMe page that raised the money for their trip within two days.

The family wrote on Monday afternoon:

"Today we are going to the beach of the crash site We are hoping to feel connected to Dillon and let him know he is loved and missed so badly. The pain we feel is so incredible that we didn't know could even exist. We just want our boy but after the coast guard announced their findings from yesterday's search, we are bracing ourselves for the next update. Please pray with us to just find the strength to get through this."

The Coast Guard announced Monday that all four of the life rafts aboard the helicopters had been spotted and three had been recovered. The statement added "There is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts."

The search off the north shore of Oahu has been underway around the clock since the helicopters were reported missing. The Coast Guard, which is getting help from the Navy and the Honolulu Fire Department, says 89 searches have covered 24,000 square miles of the Pacific.

But bad weather and high seas have hampered the effort. With swells eight feet high, a high surf warning remained in effect for the area Monday.

His uncle told the Christian Science Monitor Dillon Semolina, 24, wants to be a registered nurse when he leaves 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.

Semolina attended Delano High School but the Pentagon now lists him as being from Chaska.

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