Monday, July 02, 2007

Michael J. Martinez dies 'of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked in Baghdad by insurgents using improvised explosive devices'

Family, friends and fellow service members are mourning the loss of a Chula Vista native who, along with three other Southern California soldiers, was killed by a roadside bomb last week in Iraq.

Michael J. Martinez was born and raised in the South Bay city, NBC 7/39 reported. His parents said he was a wonderful man with a great smile and that he had plans to come home after his tour of duty was over and become a police officer.

His father, Manuel Martinez Sr., said the last time he heard from his son was on Father's Day.

Martinez wrote his father a note that said, "Dad, I can't thank you enough for all you've done for me. I just hope I turn out to be a son you can be proud of. Anyway, love you dad, Mike."

A shrine inside the family's front door expresses the kind of pride they had for Martinez. A candle has been shining bright since he left for war, on his second tour of duty.

Fighting tears, his mother, Armida, said two soldiers showed up at their home on June 28.

"Because I was alone at home, I answered it by myself. I knew right then that he was gone. But he wanted us to be proud of him. I'm so proud of him," she said.

Martinez is survived by his 1-year-old son, Landon, his parents and his two brothers.

Natalie Gallegos, Landon's mother, said she will tell Landon his father was a hero.

"I'm going to tell him that he loved him very much. Every chance he got he called to see how he was doing because all he wanted to do was be with his son," she said.

Services for Martinez are scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday. He will be buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma.

From NBC 7