Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chance (Virgil C.) Martinez laid to rest

WEST JORDAN — In one of the last conversations Kimberlee Austin-Oliver had with her brother, Army Staff Sgt. Virgil "Chance" Martinez , she asked him if he was wearing his protective vest.

"'Absolutely,"' Austin-Oliver recalled Martinez saying while he was still in Iraq.

"I said, 'You better not die on me,"' and he replied, "'You can't kill Superman,"' she recalled Tuesday at her brother's funeral.

Martinez, 33, of West Valley City, and his unit came under attack in Baghdad. He died May 6 in Kadhimiyah, Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

He had been stationed with the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany. He moved to Germany eight years ago and married Marion "Mandy" Strohmer while there. He also leaves behind five children: Anesia, Amanda, Daniel, Isabella and Tonyo.

"My Superman is no longer here on this earth," Austin-Oliver told the crowd gathered at Redwood Memorial Mortuary.

She said that once, her brother showed up at her apartment to supposedly use her bathroom, and she learned after he left that he had taped a $100 bill to her mirror during a time when she had been in financial trouble.

Martinez was remembered as a "Momma's boy," the son who used his first paycheck at a job when he was a teenager to buy a dozen roses for his mother, Rebecca Jill Oliver.

He was a best friend to Dan Chavez, who was rescued by Martinez one cold December day when his truck broke down on a snowy road.

"He just started laughing," Chavez said. In the next breath, however, his friend said, "'I'll be there as quickly as I can."'

Chavez stood graveside at Utah Veterans Memorial Park as Army soldiers gave Martinez a 21-gun salute, followed by a solitary bugler playing taps.

From the Deseret News

Related Link:
Chance (Virgil C.) Martinez dies 'of wounds sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an I.E.D. and small arms'