7-year-old Wyatt Seth Gillette had his wish come true on Saturday when he was made an Honorary U.S. Marine, making him the 96th recipient of the award since the program first started in 1992.
Gillette suffered from a condition called Aicardi-Goutierres Syndrome. His father, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Gillette, is a Marine drill instructor. When Gillette’s condition deteriorated in early July, Jeremiah began a petition for Gillette to become an Honorary Marine.
“That would mean the world to me,” Jeremiah told ABC7.
He said that if Wyatt hadn’t had the condition, he expects that he would’ve wanted to join the Marine Corps.
“He’s just got that spirit,” he explained.
The petition quickly gained enough signatures, and at a ceremony at the School of Infantry-West Parade Deck, Jeremiah looked on as his son became an Honorary Marine.
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
— David H. Berger (@CMC_MarineCorps) July 30, 2016
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said that Gillete’s fight was “absolutely ‘Marine,’” and that he epitomized the dictate “Semper Fidelis”—always faithful.
Just one day after the ceremony, Jeremiah confirmed his son Wyatt had passed away from kidney failure, a complication which stemmed from his condition.
Wyatt was born August 15, 2008 and died just two weeks before his 8th birthday.
The family has set up a funeral fund and donations are welcome here.