Enlisting in the U.S. Marines Corps in 1997, Jason Martinez continues to serve our country 14 years later. As a Monterey High School graduate Jason is this Sunday's KCBD "Hometown Hero".
"The very first time he deployed I was absolutely petrified… just the unknown, not knowing what to expect," said Dana Grace, Jason's mother.
Jason joined the Marines as soon as he graduated from high school in 1997, during a time of peace. Little did he know he would soon go to war in the coming years. After 9/11 Jason was deployed overseas in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"It's extremely hard because you hear about everything in the media, and you don't really pay a lot of attention to it until you've got someone over there that's in your family. You love them and worry about it every day," said Jason's stepfather Mark Grace.
During Jason's two tours in Iraq his vehicle was hit by an I.E.D blast, and was targeted by a rocket. Luckily both times he escaped unharmed. However, it wasn't the times he almost lost his life that he remembers; it's the time he helped protect the ones around him.
"When people think the War in Iraq, they think guns and bombs and big explosions, but it's really kind of making sure they were ok and that they got to enjoy their freedoms in their country the way that they wanted to," said Jason.
"Everyone always remembers going over and fighting, the statue of Saddam coming down, but you know we actually spent a lot of time packing school supplies and handing them out to kids; following groups of kids to school to make sure they got there safe," he said.
Homesick for his four children back in Lubbock, Jason looked to the ones he was protecting to find comfort. "I got to see some pictures of my kids getting ready for their first day of school, and got kind of sad but then you know I walked 50 or 60 other kids to their first day of school," he said.
Jason is currently stationed in North Carolina, but was thankful to spend this Christmas at home with his family- hero to his children and many more children overseas.
"I really haven't done anything. There's tons of other people even here in Lubbock especially that have done, given and sacrificed a lot more than I have," said Jason.
"He does not consider himself a hero," said his mom. "He is a hero because he is the best dad I have seen. He loves his children no matter what. He keeps them in the front of his mind no matter where he is and he is a hero because he is teaching them to be young men and women who grow up to serve their country, to love one another."
Jason is scheduled to go to Afghanistan in 2013.