An 8-year-old boy suffering from a rare genetic disorder passed away just one day after becoming an Honorary Marine, according to family members.
During the July 30th ceremony at the School of Infantry-West Parade Deck at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Wyatt Gillette was bestowed with the title of Honorary Marine. Gillette’s parents, including father Jeremiah Gillette who is a US Marine, were in attendance for the special event.
A fellow marine had started a change.org petition calling for the boy to be awarded the honorary title. Nearly 4,600 people signed the petition, just several hundred shy of its 5,000 goal.
“I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through, and for that should be given the title,” Anthony North wrote in the petition.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller approved the recommendation and welcomed the family on Saturday.
“One of the easiest decisions yet as CMC was to make this 8-yr old a Marine. Keep fighting, Wyatt! You are a Marine!” tweeted Neller accompanied with photos of the young boy in military garb.
One of the easiest decisions yet as CMC was to make this 8-yr old a Marine. Keep fighting, Wyatt! You are a Marine! pic.twitter.com/bSDrEHcc3c
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) July 30, 2016
In an interview with the Marine Corps Times, Neller hailed Gillette’s fight to overcome the genetic disorder, Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Type 1 (Trex 1 Mutation).
“The courageous fight that Wyatt continues is absolutely ‘Marine,'” he said. “Wyatt is the epitome of Semper Fidelis, and we are hoping and praying for him and his family.”
After the boy passed away, the family received an outpouring of support to cover the funeral costs. As of Monday over $15,000 had been donated to cover the costs.