Elgin Marine killed in Afghanistan

April 12, 2012 3:23:46 PM PDT
United States Marine Corporal Alex Martinez, 21, was killed during combat operations last week in Afghanistan.

Martinez grew up in Elgin. His wife, Julianna Martinez, talked to him last Tuesday and at the end of the week was notified of his death.

"I broke down," she said. "I couldn't believe it. It was unreal. I was waiting for his call."

The corporal was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. As a young boy he wanted to be a police officer, fireman or join the service. He finished high school early to enlist, following in the footsteps of his father.

"He wanted to join because his father was in the Navy, but his mom wasn't for it and he just always begged her and begged her until she finally talked to a recruiter, and she gave in and signed the papers," said Julianna Martinez.

His platoon sergeant, Sgt. Lloyd Beckfordl, said the corporal was a dedicated Marine who received numerous recognitions and awards for his service.

"Basically quite shy. I would get him to talk it out," he said.

In 2008, Martinez graduated high school and married Julianna, his high school sweetheart. He enlisted in the Marines in 2009 and said following deployment he wanted to return to Illinois and start a family. The 23-year-old widow wears her husband's wedding band around her neck.

"He left it behind intentionally," she said. "Because it was kind of slippery, so he was like, just hold on to it."

Corporal Martinez will be buried Saturday.