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‘Betio Bastards’ honor fallen Marine

5 Oct 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis

The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment paused their operations to honor one of their fallen heroes at the Camp Habbaniyah Chapel Oct. 5.

“We are here today to pay our respects to Lance Cpl. Rene Martinez of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, who selflessly gave his life on 24 September in the Al Anbar province of Iraq,” said 1st Sgt. Jeffrey A. Beegle, 36, I Company first sergeant from Blair, Pa.

Martinez was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the Habbaniyah area. The 20-year-old from Miami-Dade, Fla., was remembered by his fellow Marines and others at the camp’s chapel.

Lt. Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers, the battalion commander, spoke first about Martinez near a lone rifle that balanced a helmet and dangled Martinez’s identification tags.

“Lance Cpl. Martinez proved himself valiant in action, and it would be enough, I think, for us to proclaim his deeds in action and to live our lives through his example,” Desgrosseilliers said. “The consummation of life that took Lance Cpl. Martinez from us demonstrates the meaning of manliness in its first revelation and its final proof.”

Marines from I Company provided personal reflections on their fallen friend.

“To me, Rene Martinez is immortal,” said Cpl. Marcus A. Johnson, a mortarman with I Company.

The 21-year-old from Worcester, Mass., said Martinez was a man that should be remembered forever.

“It’s seems like we’ve known each other forever,” Johnson said.  “I can recall the times where we had fun, where we made each other laugh and when we were at work because that’s where we spent most of our free time.  I remember moments from CAX where we all used to reminisce on like where he got the name of Boo-Boo because he ran like a big teddy bear.”

After training, Martinez deployed for the first time to Iraq. That’s where his Marines all got a better chance to know him.

“We stood a lot of post together where we practically knew each others life stories,” Johnson added. “Most of the time I would talk about my wife, and he would talk about his sister. He once told me that she was his life, that he would do anything for her. Then he told me he was going to get out of the Marine Corps and that they were going to make a video game together. He was a man of great character that was loved and liked by many of us.”

He said Martinez was the type of person that would do anything to make sure the people around him were cared for.

“He never put himself before the Marines beneath him,” said Lance Cpl. Eric M. Meadvin, a mortarman with I Company.

The 19-year-old from Onondaga, N.Y., said he went on every last patrol with his Marines.

“His last patrol he went out so Lance Cpl. Torres and I could sleep,” Meadvin said. “In a way he gave his life so his team would be alright. If it makes you feel any better, Lance Cpl. Martinez once told me, ‘If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.’”

His Marines said they won’t forget him.

“We will forever miss you and remember you because we will always love you,” said Johnson.

Martinez enlisted in the Marine Corps June 2004 and attended boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., on July 2004, graduating October 2004. He attended Marine Combat Training at the School of Infantry East, completing his instruction in January before reporting to Camp Lejuene, N.C.

He was then assigned to I Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and deployed to Iraq in 2005 where he participated in combat operations such as Operation Matador and Spear.

Martinez’s decorations include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.