By Evonne Ermey
8-year-old Wyatt Gillette gathered with his family and fellow soldiers at Camp Pendleton, Saturday, where he became an honorary marine.
The San Clemente boy, whose father is a Camp Pendleton Staff Sergeant, died the next day from complications with Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome, a rare genetic disease, The San Diego Union Tribune Reports.
YouCaring.com, a crowdfunding site set up to help the family with medical bills, details Wyatt’s struggle with the disease. His father writes that Wyatt had spent more than a month in the hospital battling kidney failure brought on by the disease before being conferred with his military title.
Marines bestowed the honor on Wyatt after an online petition was circulated and approved by Commandant General Robert Neller.
The Marine who initiated the petition said, “I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through, and for that should be given the title,” U-T San Diego reports.
“The ‘Honorary Marine’ title reinforces the special bond between the American people and the Corps by recognizing individuals in the civilian community who have made extraordinary contributions to the Marine Corps. Wyatt met the criteria because of his terminal condition,” said base officials in a press release.
The Commandant tweeted that the decision to make Wyatt a marine was one of the easiest he had made as CMC.
The practice of conferring honorary Marine titles began in 1992. Wyatt was the 96the recipient of the award.
A YouCaring.com page is set up to help the family with funeral costs.