"He Loved This Country So Much"

Rafael Martinez, Jr., killed in combat, joined the military against his father's wishes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Rafael Martinez, Sr. never wanted his son to join the military.

    "Before when my son was 18, I didn't give him permission to serve this country," Martinez, Sr. said at his Spring Valley home.

    Martinez says he didn't want to lose his only son to war. But when he turned 33, Rafael Martinez, Jr. finally went against his father's wishes and joined the U.S. Army.

    "He loved this country so much and he was so proud to serve the United States of America," Martinez, Sr. said about his son, who lived next door to the family home.

    In 2007, Specialist Rafael Martinez, Jr. got married and had his daughter, Davina, before serving his first tour in Iraq. During his tour, he was injured by a bomb blast and awarded a purple heart.

    Ten months ago, Specialist Martinez and his wife Christina, added to their family with a young son named Rafael III.

    His family last saw him three months ago before he headed to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty.

    On Thursday morning, Martinez, Sr. watched two soldiers walk up to his front door. 

    "I know already my son is dead," he said.

    Pentagon officials say Specialist Martinez was killed by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in northwestern Afghanistan.  Two fellow soldiers were also killed in the blast.

    It is what Martinez. Sr. feared most and why he didn't want his son to join the military.  Despite the tremendous loss, he is proud of his son.

    "I feel great because my son did something he wants, to defend the country," Martinez, Sr. said.