A 21-year-old Marine from Elgin
died Thursday, April5, 2012 during his second deployment to
Afghanistan, according to his family and the United States
Department of Defense.
Cpl. Alex Martinez, assigned to
the 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, Calif., died
"conducting combat operations in Helmand province" the
Martinez enlisted in the Marines
in January 2009 when he was 18 years old and deployed to
Afghanistan not long after graduating form the Marine Corps
Recruit Depot in San Diego, his stepfather Jim Bethke said. "He
surprised us," Bethke said late Friday night. "He took summer
school and graduated in the middle of the year."
Martinez's mother was greeted by
four Marines who brought news of her son's death about 6 p.m.
Thursday night, Bethke said. "It's been pretty hard for her," he
said. "She chokes up talking about it." Martinez turned 18 in
December 2008, married his fiancee Juliana and shipped out to
the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego in January 2009. The
two wed in a courthouse ceremony. Martinez had been talking
about it and came home one day with the news, Bethke said.
Julianna moved to California with her husband and was living
there at the time of his death, he said. Martinez's mother and
siblings made the trip to San Diego in 2009 to see his
transition from a recruit to a Marine and the family held a big
picnic before his first deployment to Afghanistan, Bethke said.
Martinez deployed to Afghanistan
a second time on Feb. 28 after a brief visit at home with
family, his stepfather said. His first deployment lasted 7
months. Bethke, his wife and other family members are scheduled
to leave with other Marines for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
at 5:30 a.m. Saturday to receive his remains, he said. His
funeral arrangements haven't been finalized. Bethke said he
considered the prospect of his stepson's death when he joined
"but it's in the back of your mind, especially when you know
what's going on over there," he said. "I don't know what to say
really. It's tough, you know?"