8-year-old boy dies day after being named honorary Marine

SAN DIEGO (AP) — An 8-year-old boy with a rare, genetic disease has died a day after being made an honorary Marine.

Jeremiah Gillette, tells Los Angeles news station KABC-TV and the Marine Corps Times that his son, Wyatt, died Sunday. He had Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome, which caused seizures and kidney failure.

Wyatt was honored with a formal ceremony Saturday at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, where his father serves as a drill sergeant. Video and photos of the ceremony show Wyatt dressed in fatigues and seated in his wheelchair while being presented with a framed certificate and an official Marine Corps pin.

Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller agreed to make Wyatt an honorary Marine last week in response to an online petition. The honor is bestowed on just a few people every year and recognizes civilians who have made extraordinary contributions to the Marine Corps.

Neller wrote on his official Twitter page that granting the petition was one of the easiest decisions he had to make as commandant.

“Keep fighting, Wyatt! You are a Marine!” he posted Saturday.

As a 4-year-old, Wyatt was diagnosed with the developmental disease, which affects the brain, immune system and skin, as well as causing other complications, the Orange County Register newspaper reported.

When the boy was undergoing dialysis last month, his father reached out to fellow Marines on social media for prayers. They started the online petition, which quickly gained supporters.

Gillette said he believes his son, had he been healthy, could have joined the Marines someday.

“He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met,” he told the TV station. “He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met.”

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s