Eight-year-old Wyatt Gillette has battled the rare genetic disorder he was born with just as bravely as the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and now the little one is getting his eagle, globe and anchor as an honorary member of the Corps.
"The courageous fight that Wyatt continues is absolutely ‘Marine,’" Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Marine Corps Times said on Thursday. "I hope this small gesture will bring Wyatt and his family a bit of joy during their tremendous battle.
"Wyatt is the epitome of Semper Fidelis, and we are hoping and praying for him and his family."
Neller approved the terminally ill boy as an Honorary Marine days after a petition began circulating online urging him to bestow the honor on Gillette, whose father Jeremiah is a drill instructor.
"Nothing could make me happier than to see my son Wyatt Seth Gillette become an honorary Marine," Jeremiah Gillette posted online with the petition. "He has fought harder in the last almost eight years than I will ever have to. If I earned the title, I believe he has as well."
Gillette is expected to join the ranks of the few and the proud is at a ceremony slated for Saturday morning at the School of Infantry – West aboard Camp Pendleton, California, his father told Marine Corps Times. The younger Gillette is only the 96th person to receive the honor since the program began in 1992.
Both of Gillette's kidneys have failed. After spending six weeks at a hospital, he returned to his home in California on Wednesday for hospice care, his mother posted.
"We are still hoping Wyatt makes a recovery, at this point, it's not looking to be in his favor," Felishia Gillette wrote online. "He actually hasn't had that great of a past few days in general either; even with dialysis. So when we go home we will have about 5 - 14 days with Wyatt."
The family's savings are gone, so they are asking for donations to help with bills and possible funeral costs, she wrote.
"We plan to use whatever money is raised toward funeral expenses but just prepaying for them now," Felishia Gillette wrote.
As the poem goes: Whenever Wyatt Gillett reaches heaven, he'll be able to tell St. Peter, "Another Marine reporting, sir."
Semper Fi, little one.