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Marine Cpl. Hunter Dillan, left, receives the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal from Capt. Peter Hofinga, Lima Company Commander, for his work in security for the U.S. Navy ship Comfort.

Hunter Dillan awarded medal for work on COVID-19 ship

    Hunter Dillan had an up-close look at the medical response to COVID-19 in one of the pandemic hotbeds of the country earlier this spring.
    Cpl. Dillan, a 2016 graduate of Chase County Schools, was among the U.S. Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment who spent March 28 to May 1 in New York City as part of Operation Gotham.
    The marines provided security for the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship Comfort during the height of the COVID-19 response there.
    During their deployment, Dillan was in charge of teams throughout the restricted area, controlling access points and screening patients and other personnel for entry.
    For their work, Dillan was one of six marines who received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal on June 15. Their gunnery sergeant received the Commendation Medal.
    The Comfort was sent to New York City from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, with more than 1,100 Navy medical personnel and Dillan’s company of Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
    The ship returned home in early May after treating 200 patients.
    Despite the low number of patients seen, the crew received thanks from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
    “I believe Comfort not only brought comfort but also saved lives,” Cuomo said when the ship departed New York.
    Dillan said his most memorable part of his time in New York City were the constant thanks they received, “even though we were just security for the ship.”
    The marines’ company platoon commander also congratulated his personnel.
    “These marines packed up and left on a moment’s notice, all for the sake of helping other Americans when they needed it most,” said 1st Lt. Gerhard Vanarkel, platoon commander.
    Dillan is the son of Brad and Terri Dillan of Imperial.
    He is currently in Norway training with the Norwegian Army.
    When he enlisted after high school, he signed up for five years, so has one left to fulfill.


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