Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Anselmo Martinez III dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device'

Army Staff Sgt. Anselmo Martinez III, 26, was overdue for a two-week leave from Iraq to return home to Robstown when he was killed with two other soldiers, grief-stricken family members confirmed Saturday.

The armored vehicle in which they were riding ran over a roadside bomb near Baqouba, Iraq.

Martinez, a 1998 graduate of Robstown High School, was stationed at Fort Hood, where his wife, Christina, and two daughters live. Martinez had five siblings.

His mother Diane Martinez said a military officer and chaplain broke the news Friday just before noon. She was watching television in bed when they knocked at her door. She hadn't spoken to him since Thanksgiving and that conversation was quick and the delay in the phone call made it a tough conversation. Some things she said he never heard because of the technical problems. Now, it's too late.

It's too late for him to get granted the leave he had been promised since May, the leave that was rescheduled twice. "He really wanted to come home," Diane Martinez said as she drove to Fort Hood late Saturday night to visit his wife and children. "One of his friends offered his leave but the commanding officer said no."

Martinez kept in contact with his family through the Internet, mostly on MySpace, where he said he was happily married with two daughters and that he'd like to meet, "Clint Eastwood 'Go Ahead, Make My Day.'"

Several messages from his wife all end with the words "I miss you and I love you."

A Feb. 4 message from his wife reads: "Hola papa. I feel so bad that you couldn't be here today for baby's birthday."

It was his family that he joined the military for, his mother Diane Martinez said. He worked a stint at Whataburger after graduating from high school and then at Hertz car rental at the Corpus Christi International Airport.

"It's so hard to find a job nowadays," Diane Martinez said. "That was what he had to do to support his family, so he decided to join."

Anselmo's uncle, Alfredo Martinez, who remembers fishing with Anselmo when he was a young boy and as an adult, was angry Saturday.

"He was a good boy, he never got in trouble, never did drugs," he said. "Everybody loved him."

"The family is suffering and mourning," Alfredo Martinez said.

"I think the president should be arrested and charged for the murder of every one of our sons and daughters that die out there," he said. "There are no weapons of mass destruction. He's killing all of them. It's criminal."

Diane Martinez said she still couldn't believe he's dead.

"I keep asking them how they know he's dead. If they are sure it's him," she said. "I still cannot believe it. I am so proud of him. He wanted to come home, but he stayed there and he did his job."

From the San Antonio Express News