Fallen Aiken Marine put to rest

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December 20, 2006

AIKEN, S.C.---It has been a somber day for many people in Aiken. Today, a Marine killed in the line of duty was laid to rest.

Cpl. Matthew Dillon's family, friends, and fellow Marines gathered for the goodbye.

It was a bittersweet service; there were feelings of sadness for his loss and celebration for the life of a man who gave his own for others.

It was a day to honor a son, a brother, a brave Marine.

Cpl. Dillon's first sergeant, Bill Bryant of the Army National Guard, spent a year with him on the battlefield.

"If there ever was a word 'patriot', it would be Matt," SGT Bryant said.

Cpl. Dillon is remembered by friends for his positive spirit.

"Very nice guy, real friendly, and his friends...he'll be missed," said friend Stewart Prettel.

He was held in the highest regard by fellow servicemen for dedication during his two tours of Iraq.

"They're part of the thread of America that makes us safe...God bless 'em," said David Clerc of the Marine Corps League.

But it's a mixture of pride and sadness for Neal Dillon, whose son died for his country December 11.

"I asked my son, 'How do you do this?' He said, 'I do the best job I can'," Mr. Dillon told News 12 on December 13. "He did the best he could. He died for us."

Today, the senior Dillon listened to a note his son wrote from the battlefield, read by his pastor, Dr. Eddie Leopard: "I'd like to thank you for everything you've done. I could not have asked for a better childhood or better parents."

Now, it's time for parents, friends, and former partners on the front line to say goodbye.

In the letter Cpl. Dillon wrote, he asked that if he died in combat, he would like a proper military burial, "Amazing Grace" to be played on the bagpipes, and a reading of his favorite poem. All of those things happened today.

Cpl. Dillon's favorite song, "When I Get Where I'm Goin'" by Brad Paisley, was also played.