Drill Instructor's 8-Year-Old Son Named An Honorary Marine One Day Before His Death

More than 4,000 people petitioned to have the rare honor bestowed on the boy.

A day after receiving the rare honor of being made an Honorary Marine during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, 8-year-old Wyatt Gillette succumbed in his battle against Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome type 1, a rare disease known to cause severe neurological and renal (kidney) problems. 

According to ABC7, Gillette was on 15 different medications and had experienced total kidney failure, requiring daily dialysis, at the time of his passing on July 31. 

The Marine Corps Times reports that his father, 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Gillette, is a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

PEOPLE writes that the senior Gillette asked his fellow Marines for their prayers as Wyatt was moved into hospice care with only a few days left to live.

That's when Marine Anthony North took to Change.org to petition General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, to make the 8-year-old an Honorary Marine. 

"I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through," North wrote, "and for that should be given the title."

General Neller approved the request, making Wyatt Gillette just the 96th person to receive the honor since the program was started in 1992, the Marine Corps Times reported.


Wyatt received the honor during a morning ceremony on July 30 at Camp Pendleton where he received the familiar eagle, globe, and anchor insignia in the presence of his parents and an audience of his fellow Marines.

Wyatt passed away the next day.

The Gillette family is asking for donations to cover funeral and other expenses. You may contribute online.

Rest easy, Marine.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.