One of the Few, the Proud and the Youngest
by: Norman Fulkerson
The citizens of Flora, Indiana said their final farewells to Cody Green, a proud United States Marine, on May 5, 2012. News of his death sent shockwaves through the blogosphere. He was simply too young to die. While he bravely faced death on three separate occasions –and never lost his cheerful spirit– the final engagement with an intransigent enemy proved fatal. His adversary was not a member of the Taliban, as you are probably thinking, it was leukemia. While the disease might have taken his life, it did not rob him of his cheerful attitude and generous spirit. There is something else about Cody which makes his story all the more moving. He was only 12 years old at the time of his death and is most likely the youngest Marine, even if only an honorary one, that has ever existed.
Cody was first diagnosed in 2001 with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer that appears most often in children. He was two months shy of his second birthday at the time. Over the next eleven years he would endure aggressive treatment which, on three separate occasions, sent this fast growing cancer into remission. Each time it came charging back until March 2, 2012 when he was admitted into Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana.
His online obituary describes him as a person who, although very young, had an indomitable and upbeat spirit. He never asked “Why Me,” and “fought the illness with grace and humility”. It also pointed out how he never complained about his treatment and always thanked the nurses who cared for him.
This solicitude for others was also shown towards his mother Tracy. In August of 2011 she was seriously injured at the Indiana State Fair grounds when a freak storm whipped up and toppled a concert stage, killing seven people. In spite of the fact that he was fighting a life and death struggle, Cody was always more concerned about his mother after the injuries she sustained that day. Her well being came first and this included the times where chemotherapy caused young Cody severe nausea and vomiting. Forgetful of self he would apologize to her for holding bucket.
This care for his mother is what led him to keep meticulous track of his numerous medications and when to take them. He did not want her to worry. This selfless attitude was consistent with the way he lived his life. He was always the kid to look out for the welfare for others before thinking about himself.
The story of his courageous battle with cancer eventually caught the attention of a local retired Marine, Sergeant. Mark Dolfini. He found Cody’s style of bravery identical to that of the Marines and arranged for the young man to be named an honorary member of “the few, the proud.” Along with this distinction he was given his own Marine Aviator Wings.
On the evening of Friday, April 28th Cody’s lifelong fight was finally coming to an end. It was then that Sergeant Dolfini chose to give him something no other kid in America will ever receive. Attired in his full dress blue uniform the Marine Sergeant took his post outside the dying young man’s room and remained there –on guard– from 7:00 PM Friday night till 3:30 AM the next morning. The Marine would only bend from his rigid position of attention long enough to salute Cody’s mother whenever she would enter or leave the room. Sergeant Dolfini only left his post because he felt it was time for the family to be alone with Cody who eventually passed away later that day.
For eight solid hours this little boy received the watchful guard of a United States Marine who took the motto Semper Fidelis one step further.