AIKEN - Friends and family remembered Cpl. Matthew Dillon on Wednesday as a proud Marine who was quick with a smile or a laugh.
Cpl. Dillon, 25, was killed Dec. 11 when an explosive device struck his vehicle in Al Khalidiyah, Iraq. He was in his second tour of duty as a military policeman.
Hundreds turned out to honor him with a funeral at Millbrook Baptist Church. A slide show of Cpl. Dillon played on two large screens at the front of the church, and two photos of Cpl. Dillon, one at play and one in his Marine uniform, could be seen behind a flag-draped casket.
Cpl. Dillon's parents and brothers put their arms around each other's shoulders, forming a four-person hug that lasted throughout the hourlong service.
The day brought several final honors for Cpl. Dillon, including a second Purple Heart, a rifle salute at his burial and 76 members of the Patriot Guard Riders marking his memorial site with 76 American flags. During those moments, everything was still and silent.
Through tears, the family shared funny stories from Cpl. Dillon's childhood that kept his mother, Lucy Dillon, smiling.
"Lucy said that Matthew always smiled and laughed, and that's the one thing I get from Lucy is she always smiles and laughs," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Clark, who took part in the ceremonies.
As a personal tribute to Cpl. Dillon, Sgt. Clark sat with his casket at Millbrook Baptist for two four-hour shifts to honor last requests for the family.
"Doing this is an honor, and it is the least we can do for their son and his sacrifice," he said.
Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marine Cpl. Matthew Dillon
Education: 1999 Wardlaw Academy graduate; attended Augusta State University for 2 years before joining National Guard
Military: First tour in Iraq with National Guard, earned Purple Heart after being wounded with shrapnel in his hand. He followed his brothers into a military career. His eldest brother, Robert Neal Dillon, served in the Army, and Michael David Dillon served in the Marines.
Source: Neal Dillon