Saturday, January 07, 2006

Army Major Michael R. Martinez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Major Michael R. Martinez, 43, Columbia, Missouri.

Major Martinez, who was assigned to the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Carson, Colorado, died near Tal Afar, Iraq when his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed.

The Kansas City Star

An Army major from Missouri who died in Iraq on Saturday in a helicopter crash is being mourned by friends and family in the Kansas City area.

Maj. Michael R. Martinez, 43, lived in Platte County during a roughly two-year posting at Fort Leavenworth as a lawyer and member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

In addition to relatives in Kansas City, Martinez had family in Columbia, said Martha Rudd, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon. They could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Martinez was one of 12 Americans who died in the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Tal Afar, a northern city near the Syrian border. The Army has not determined the cause of the crash.

“For the folks who knew Mike, this comes as a huge shock,” said Jeffrey J. Mullins, a judge advocate at Fort Leavenworth. “Certainly a lot of people will miss him as a friend. The JAG corps will miss him as an attorney. But the Army will also miss him as a leader.”

Martinez was promoted to Major post humously from the rank of Captain, Rudd said.

Friends said he lived with strong values.

“He had a positive impact with everyone he came in contact with, officers, enlisted men and civilians,” Mullins said.

Martinez had served with the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley and the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. He was assigned to Fort Carson, Colo., as chief of legal assistance. He went to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment.

His wife, Kelly Martinez, told the Colorado Springs Gazette on Tuesday that she awoke Saturday morning and knew something had happened to her husband.

“I’d had a terrible dream, and I just knew,” Martinez said. “You hear this all the time — but I had a terrible gut feeling.”

Martinez, a 16-year veteran, deployed to Iraq in November and was due to return along with the regiment in February.

According to Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the Army’s judge advocate general, Martinez had served as an enlisted soldier as a paralegal specialist and court reporter. He was a 1998 law school graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Martinez had three sons, Alexander, Colby and Benjamin, Black said, and two stepdaughters, Kathryn and Samantha.

He was devoted to his wife and children, said Jana Torok, a lawyer from Lenexa who worked with Martinez during his stint at Fort Leavenworth from 2002 to 2004.

“He was a really neat guy and an interesting person to work for,” Torok said. “This personalizes the war more. You wish you could be there to do something to help.”

In Iraq, Martinez provided legal advice to troops, said Vince Gunter of Kansas City. Gunter met him while also serving in Iraq as a judge advocate.

Martinez “was traveling quite a bit, helping out soldiers with legal guidance, writing wills and power of attorney,” Gunter said. “It’s so good for a soldier’s morale to be able to talk to someone, especially if they have legal problems back home.”

Martinez volunteered for the deployment.

“All I’ve known about him,” Gunter said, “is that he was a terrific guy and an incredible soldier.”

Major Michael R. Martinez was killed in action on 01/07/06.

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