Honorary Marine, whom the Corps welcomed as one of its own, dies at 17

A 17-year-old who became an honorary Marine in November 2023 following a diagnosis of terminal bone cancer died Friday morning at his home in Georgia, according to his father.

Jack Lowe was born at Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms, California, and was about 5 years old when he decided he would become a Marine, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

He was a disciplined kid, according to his father, Daniel Lowe: a straight-A student and a standout swimmer, who didn’t have to be asked twice to do his chores.

In March 2022, when he was a junior in high school, Jack Lowe was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He went through extensive radiation treatments and was deemed cancer-free six months later.

Marines embrace young honorary Marine with cancer ‘as one of our own’

In August 2023, however, the cancer returned. After six weeks of experimental chemotherapy, doctors determined it was terminal.

It seemed it wasn’t possible for Jack Lowe ever to become a Marine.

But thanks to requests from his neighbor and godmother, the Marine Corps learned of his longtime wishes to earn the eagle, globe and anchor. On Nov. 1, the service officially granted him the title honorary Marine — a rare honor given to civilians with extraordinary contributions and ties to the Corps.

The commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, had signed off on the request himself, according to a Marine Corps news story.

Brig. Gen. Walker Field, the commanding general of Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, came to the Lowes’ home in Flowery Branch, Georgia, to give the teenager the title.

Though shaking from the exertion, Jack Lowe raised his right hand from his walker to recite the oath of enlistment.

Field removed the eagle, globe and anchor insignia from his own uniform and handed it to Daniel Lowe, a Marine veteran. The father placed the insignia in his son’s hand, in “a breathtaking moment between father and son, Marine and Marine,” Daniel Lowe said in November 2023.

Jack Lowe also received Marine Corps dog tags, which listed his religious preference as Norse mythology, a tradition that fascinated him, according to his father.

Days after receiving the honorary Marine title, the teen attended a Marine Corps birthday ball hosted by Marine Forces Reserve’s Combat Logistics Regiment 45 in Atlanta.

Marines gave Jack Lowe dress blues beforehand. At the ball, they gave him a standing ovation and cheered, “Semper Fi. Happy birthday, Devil Dog. Ooh-rah.” His parents cried.

“To actually know that I’m a part of the Marine Corps, it’s just wonderful,” Jack Lowe told Marine Corps Times in November.

The honorary Marine loved Metallica, Megadeth, Bob Marley and Prince, according to his father. He loved otters. Although he was introverted, he easily made people laugh and brought them together.

“He was the strongest young man that I could have ever been blessed to know,” Daniel Lowe said Monday.

The teen spent the day before he died at home with friends and family. That night, when “the girl that he loved very much” showed up to say goodbye, a spectacular lightning storm began, according to Daniel Lowe.

It sounds silly, the father said, but he kind of believes his son, who loved the Norse gods, was ushered by the thunder god Thor to Valhalla.

“The kid went out like an M-F-in’ Marine in a lightning storm,” Daniel Lowe said.