One of the Few, the Proud… and the Youngest

Mark Delfino standing guard outside the room of 12 year old Cody Green.

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.

Cody Green dressed as a Boys Scout.

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.


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  1. John’s avatar

    Uplifting and refreshing. It’s needs to be told from shore to shore, sea to shining sea. God bless this yougest Marine, and may his soul rest in peace. Amen.

  2. Teri D’s avatar

    Heaven must have had a special opening that only Cody Green could fill. The Green family had a special need that only Mark Delfino, USMC could fill. Like pieces in a puzzle, these were arranged by an unseen Hand.

  3. Nancy’s avatar

    How brave of you, Cody, a little Marine Saint…How generous of you Mark.. We are so proud to call you neighbours and friends in God our loving Father who welcomed Cody home.


  4. jeff holcomb’s avatar

    Sad but uplifting. Semper Fi Marine. OORAH!!

  5. Keristen Ford’s avatar

    Amazing story! I agree Cody is working from coast to coast even after his passing. He was an angel sent from above and on a mission. Cody’s life has impacted lives of people all over. God Bless him and his family as his story and mission continues to carry on touching lives acrossed the world. God Bless you Mark Dulfino and God Bless you Cody Green family. Thank you for sharing your heros story with the rest of the world and remember “Marines Pull Duty in Heaven, Who Else Would God Trust.”

  6. Marie Czarnecki’s avatar

    This is a powerful story, young Cody not thought of himself but his mother when she received injuries, what an unselfish young man, God’s little ANGEL..and Mark Dulfino what a SERVICE GESTURE to the family and the little MARINE CODY..GOD BLESS YOU..

    Marie Czarnecki

  7. MINDY1’s avatar

    Oh how sweet :'(

  8. Sean’s avatar

    Mark “Flipper” Dolfini. Still making the Marine Corps proud.

  9. Ruben Navarro’s avatar

    As a Marine of eight years (1980-88) and cop for over two decades, it takes a lot to get me teary-eyed and sentimental. This put me over the top. I shared it with others, and we nearly ran out of tissues. Thank you Cody and Mark for reminding us that courage isn’t just found on a battlefield, and love of others can be extended to strangers.

    God Bless and Semper Fi…

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