7-Year-Old With Rare Genetic Condition Becomes Honorary U.S. Marine
SPRINGFIELD, Va. - A little boy in Virginia has received an honor that has been bestowed upon fewer than 100 people in the United States.
Seven-year-old Andrew Starr comes from a long line of military service. His great grandfather served during World War I. His grandfather in World War II. His father is a retired Marine colonel.
Why does Andrew want to be a Marine?
“So I can be like my dad,” he said.
Andrew is fighting a battle no child should have to face. It's called neurofibromatosis or NF1.
“You can get tumors on nerve endings predominantly in the brain,” his father Andy explained.
For a while, Andrew had chemotherapy once a week.
“I had to get shots, which I hate,” Andrew said.
“During the chemotherapy, he had times where his immune system crashed and you just don't know how it's going to turn out,” said Andy.
Through it all, Andy and Andrew’s mother, Stacy, have learned something about their son.
“How strong a warrior he is,” said Stacy.
“It doesn't get him down,” said Andy. “He doesn’t say, ‘Why me?’”
Often when a Marine retires, it is common for a flag to be flown in his or her honor. But Col. Andy Starr wanted something else.
“When I was getting ready to retire, they said, ‘What would you like as part of your retirement ceremony?’” he explained. “I said what I really want is my son to be an Honorary Marine. I want to fulfill his dream in life.”
On Monday, Andrew got a visitor. He proudly shows us a framed document that shows his appointment as an Honorary Marine.
He also received a coin from a lieutenant general.
His parents and sister, Abby, are proud of their warrior.
Little Andrew's tumors are dormant now. But his fighting spirit is still going strong.