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Capt. Dion J. Burmaz, who was killed Feb. 27 in a helicopter crash in South Korea, appears in uniform.

Capt. Dion J. Burmaz, who was killed Feb. 27 in a helicopter crash in South Korea, appears in uniform. (Courtesy of Greg Fliss)

CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — The parents of a 2nd Infantry Division helicopter pilot killed in a recent training accident say they will establish a ROTC scholarship in his name.

Capt. Dion J. Burmaz, of Placentia, Calif., was killed Feb. 27, along with Chief Warrant Officer Aaron W. Cowan of Silver City, N.M., after their helicopter crashed in the Twin Bridges Training Area. The aviators served with 2nd ID, 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment.

Burmaz’s parents, Darko and Piedad, wrote in an e-mail from California last week that the scholarship will be set through the University of California Santa Barbara, where their son was a member of the college’s ROTC program.

“We are doing this because Dion always took pride in his education and tried to help his soldiers to improve their education.… He was proud of the university and the ROTC program that he took part in,” the Burmazes wrote.

Greg Fliss, Capt. Burmaz’s friend from high school who is helping the family create the scholarship, sent an e-mail to Stars and Stripes that stated the scholarship would exemplify Burmaz’s commitment to service.

“He was every inch an officer of the United States Army, and it was his time in the ROTC that set him on his life’s path,” Fliss wrote. “As a testament to Dion’s commitment to the ROTC and to the vocation that he ultimately gave his life for, we felt those who display the same common goals that Dion possessed should be rewarded and recognized for their efforts.”

Fliss estimates the Burmaz family needs to raise a minimum of $30,000 to establish the scholarship. “This will allow us to start a yearly scholarship instead of a one-time donation,” Fliss wrote. “The University stipulates that in order to start a yearly scholarship there must be a minimum of $30,000 in the account. We are looking to reach this goal and to significantly surpass it so a permanent scholarship can be founded.”

Fliss wrote that Burmaz’s parents want the award to go to a senior member of ROTC, who is in good academic standing with the university, and best exemplifies what it means to be an Army officer. He also wrote that applicants will be required to submit an essay, the topic of which will be set at a later date, that the family will review. A final decision on who gets the scholarship will be made by the Burmaz family and local ROTC officials.

Donations can be sent to: Captain Dion J. Burmaz Memorial Scholarship Fund, Pacific Mercantile Bank, 1530 West Whittier Blvd., Suite B, LaHabra, Calif., 90631.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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