Commander Michael J. Dillender was born in Sikeston, Missouri. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and was commissioned through the Naval ROTC program in 1994.
Sea Duty assignments for Commander Dillender include his initial assignment in USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64), homeported in San Diego, California, where he served as Main Machinery Room Division Officer and Electrical Division Office. In 1997, he reported to USS MILLIUS (DDG 69), also homeported in San Diego as Strike Officer. While deployed in MILIUS in 1998, he served as Engagement Control Officer during National Command Authority contingency operations.
For his first shore duty assignment, Commander Dillender served as Flag Briefer at Military Sealift Command Headquarters in Washington D.C. Following the September 11th attacks, he was selected to be Flag Lieutenant for the director of the newly formed Navy Operations Group, DEEP BLUE. During his D.C. tour, he also earned his Masters of Business Administration from The George Washington University.
Upon completion of Department Head School, Commander Dillender was assigned to the USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59), homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as Operations Officer. During his second department head tour, he served as Operations Officer in USS PONCE (LDP 15), also homeported in Norfolk. Commander Dillender attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in 2006. He served as the Executive Officer of USS MASON (DDG 87), homeported in Norfolk from July 2008 through April 2010.
Commander Dillender reported to Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron Four as Executive Officer in September 2010. He has earned the Meritorious Service Medal (2nd award), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4th award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2nd award) as well as numerous unit and campaign awards.