Wednesday, August 3, 2016

8-year-old boy with terminal illness becomes honorary U.S. Marine BY JENNA FRATELLO

 

The U.S. Marine Corps welcomed its littlest new member on Saturday in a ceremony in San Clemente, California.

8-year-old Wyatt Gillette has Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Type 1, a fatal disease that affects the brain and the immune system. Most patients with Aicardi-Goutieres don't live past childhood.

His father, Jeremiah Gillette, served in the Iraq war 8 years ago, and hoped that his service to his country would have an influence on his son, according to People.

Upon hearing the Gillette family's story, fellow Marine Anthony North started a petition on Change.org to give Wyatt the title of becoming an Honorary U.S. Marine.

"I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through, and for that should be given the title," North wrote in his petition. "I have seen more Marines come together because of him, and feel he has truly earned the right to be among the best fighting force in the world."

The petition reached a whopping total of 4,550 signatures in a matter of days, and Commandment of the Marine Corps, Robert B. Neller approved Wyatt to be awarded with the honor.

"We couldn't be more excited to welcome him into the brotherhood," North wrote in a Facebook post. "He has the driving spirit, determination and love for life that we all wish we could have. Wyatt you are our hero and soon to be our brother."

On Saturday, Neller addressed the crowd at SOI Parade Deck and bestowed the honor upon a smiling Gillette, perched next to his mother, Felisha Gillette.

After the ceremony, Jeremiah Gillette took to the mic to thank his fellow Marines, North, and The Mendleton Foundation for coming together to make the event possible.

"Everything that everyone has done for us has been amazing," he said. "With everything going on around the world today and especially in our country, this is kind of a breath of fresh air.

"It's restored my faith in humanity, and what our country stands for."

He also took a moment to thank his wife.

"Wyatt's lived for almost eight years now. And I know for a fact that would not have happened if it wasn't for her," he said. "The way she's fought ... it's amazing what a woman can do when she's determined."

 

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