4-year-old recognized as Honorary Marine

Local News

CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill. (WCIA) — Marine Corps in Champaign and St. Louis have recently come together to show their support for a 4-year-old whose wish is to become a Marine like his father…

4-year-old Gunner Saddler is a tough soldier when it comes to his battle with cancer.

His mother and father are Emily Saddler and Ryan Saddler. Ryan is a Marine so he and Emily have decided to name their youngest boy after Ryan’s position as a Machine Gunner when he was stationed in Iraq. Gunner’s parents have been working with Make-A-Wish Illinois to help their son on his wish journey.

Given Gunner’s current state with his cancer treatment, the planning to his wish is on hold. However, in order to keep the family motivated and feel supported, Make-A-Wish Illinois decided to organize a Make-A-Wish Enhancement event for Gunner.

The idea for this event came from Emily. In November, Emily talked to Make-A-Wish Illinois about contacting the Marine Corps to ask if they can make Gunner an Honorary Marine. Right after that, the non-profit organization has reached out to multiple places and in December, the Marine Corps in Champaign, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, offered to be a part of this.

On Dec. 18, the Marines surprised the Saddlers with a ceremony held at Emily’s parents’ house in rural McLean. At this ceremony, Gunner was presented with a challenge coin and a certificate to recognize him as a Junior Honorary Marine. A video of many Marines saying hi and congratulating Gunner on his new position in the Marine Corps was also shown at the event.

“It means the world to us,” said Emily. “This is an extremely difficult time to go through all of this and we’re able to stay strong for Gunner because of the support system that we have around us.”

She added, “Having this event as we’re going into the holiday gives us a tremendous amount of support, knowing that we have so many people rallying behind us.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.