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Sgt. Francisco Martinez Insisted On Going To Iraq, Hes Remembered By Comrades
Puerto Rican Soldier Insisted On Going To Iraq
By Sandra Ivelisse Villerrael of Associated Press
November 5, 2003
HUMACAO First, he insisted on being sent to Iraq and then he refused a two-week leave in order to finish his mission in January.
Maybe that is why the family of Sgt. Francisco Martinez, killed in Iraq, repeated Wednesday as a form of consolation: "He liked this."
His father, Daniel Martinez, 56, sat quietly on a chair in his living room in Verde Mar in Humacao, where he received condolences from friends.
In a barely audible voice, he explained why his son, 28, joined the U.S. Army a decade ago: "Since he was small, he liked that. That was his life."
He said that after serving a year in Korea, Sgt. Martinez was transferred to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where he remained until he was sent to Iraq after the start of the war in March.
"He volunteered to go," his father said.
Martinez related that his son insisted he be sent to Iraq because he was bored at the base at which he was stationed.
According to his father, Sgt. Martinez recently refused a two-week leave because he preferred to wait until January, when his mission was scheduled to end.
Young Martinezs plan was present his girlfriend to the family in January at that time.
But Sgt. Martinez was killed Tuesday morning in Baghdad when a bomb exploded near his military truck, according to military authorities.
He became the 12th Puerto Rican soldier to die in the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The spokesman for the U.S. Army in Puerto Rico, Jose Pagan, indicated that Martinez belonged to Battalion 82, a unit of Division 82 of aero transport, with headquarters in Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
The family has not announced funeral arrangements, although Sgt. Martinez is to be buried in National Cemetery in Bayamon.
Besides his father, Martinez is survived by his mother, Luz M. Jimenez; three brothers; and a sister.
Soldiers Remember Comrade
November 6, 2003
Sgt. Francisco Martinez, 28, of Humacao, Puerto Rico, was a bodybuilder, and his imposing size meant that he was among the first to hit the ground when paratroopers went on a practice jump.
"Marty Mar, everybody called him Marty Mar or Heavy Drop," said Staff Sgt. James White, 35, Martinez's friend and former boss in the 82nd Soldier Support Battalion at Fort Bragg. "To everybody in the company, he was our big teddy bear. You looked at him and thought he could take your head off, but that's all he was, a teddy bear."
Even the biggest soldiers are falling in Iraq, and even human resources specialists. Martinez, who was both, was killed Tuesday in Baghdad, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.
He was riding in a convoy when an improvised explosive device exploded near his truck. He died of his injuries.
Martinez joined the Army in 1994, said Master Sgt. Pamela Smith, a spokeswoman at Fort Bragg. In Iraq, he handled casualty operations, promotions and mail operations for his unit. Plans for a memorial ceremony were not firm, she said.
Martinez sometimes would kid White about how cool Puerto Rico was, how maybe White couldn't handle that high-grade Puerto Rican rum. Sometimes they would go bowling or go to clubs, but often Martinez would prefer to hang around the barracks.
"He was always there for the soldiers, and they knew it," White said. "It was always 'Martinez, I need a ride,' or 'Martinez, I need to move this and you've got a big truck.' He was always, like, 'No problem.'
"Just a teddy bear," White said.