by Lance Cpl. Dave Flores
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms
October 19, 2018
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dillon Bennett, machine gunner, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, was awarded a Purple Heart by Col. Kyle B. Ellison, commanding officer, 7th Marine Regiment, aboard the Combat Center on July 27, 2018.
Bennett received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained while deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on July 9, 2018. After extinguishing an anti-tank missile system, Bennett and his squad of Marines were ordered to fire another missile. While on his way to retrieve the missile, Bennett was struck by a mortar round. According to Bennett, he doesn’t recall anything after the blast but he was informed by his fellow Marines that he got up, grabbed the missile and brought it back to finish the fire mission.
“Receiving the award was a humbling experience,” Bennett said. “Even though I don’t remember what happened, I am glad that my body and ‘warrior’ instincts kicked in along with my training. This whole experience has really brought me down to Earth.”
During the incident, Bennett suffered a traumatic brain injury and received shrapnel to the knee as well as cuts and bruises, but he was glad to walk away from the situation alive.
“I know that my son wants to be back, fighting with his men,” said Chad Bennett, father of Lance Cpl. Bennett. “We know he has a long journey ahead of him, but we are there for him every step of the way.”
Bennett’s friends, hospital staff, parents and grandfather, who is a retired officer from 7th Marines, were all in attendance to congratulate Bennett on the recognition he received as well as his homecoming.
“We planned on being here to help him recover from the injury when he got back stateside,” said Shar Bennett, mother of Lance Cpl. Bennett. “So to be apart of the ceremony was an added bonus. Hearing the colonel speak kindly about our son was an amazing experience. It caused us to hold our head a little higher, for Dillon.”