Girl battling rare cancer joins Marines at Camp Lejeune for birthday celebration

CAMP LEJEUNE, Onslow County - It's a big day at Camp Lejeune for the Marine Corps -- they're celebrating 242 years -- but it's an even bigger day for some of the attendees at the birthday celebration.

"Semper Fi! Happy birthday Marines," Leonardo Basaldua, the youngest active duty Marine, shouted in celebration.

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked 15-year-old Joyce Ortiz Armon what she wanted, she replied with a somewhat unusual request.

"Everyone says, 'Make-A-Wish? Disney!' and stuff like that. But I was like, 'No, I just wanna be a Marine," Armon said.

Fighting a rare muscle cancer has yet to slow Armon down. The answer to her wish was granted at the Marine Corps 242-year birthday celebration, where she got to witness the event at Camp Lejeune firsthand.

"I've never seen one before," Armon said. "It was pretty amazing how they all came out with their different uniforms from each year."

Following the uniform pageant came the cutting of the birthday cake -- the first slices going to the oldest and youngest active duty Marines.

"I found out last week actually," Basaldua said. "They just came up to me and said I'm the youngest Marine and I kinda knew I was the youngest Marine, but I didn't know it was a big deal like that."

When the cake is gone and the band packs up, the constant legacy of the Marines remains -- as do the memories Armon gets to take home with her.

Armon traveled all the way from Pennsylvana to be a part of the celebration at Camp Lejeune this week. She plans to wrap up her trip on Friday.

"My decision is still clear," Armon said. "When I'm older and when I graduate, I'm gonna be coming into the Marines and that nothing's gonna change my mind. It was an amazing trip down here and they treated me well -- they treated me like one of them."