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In Memoriam

Fallen Heroes | Alex Martinez | Operation Welcome You Home

Alex Martinez

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 department said.

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?"



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