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Army Pfc. Matthew M. Martinek

Died September 11, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom


20, of DeKalb, Ill.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died Sept. 11 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Sept. 4 when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised-explosive device followed by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire.

‘One of those clowns’

The Associated Press

Friends and family say Matthew M. Martinek had a sparkle in his eyes, maybe the seed of the smile he drew out of others.

“If you were in a bad mood, he always did something to cheer you up y’know, one of those clowns,” said Ryne Jones, who worked with him at a car care center in Martinek’s hometown of DeKalb, Ill.

Martinek, 20, died Sept. 11 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds suffered earlier in a roadside ambush in Paktika province.

“He tried not to talk too much about what he was doing, but he said he liked helping people,” said his brother, Travis Wright.

The Bartlett High School football player graduated in 2007 and joined the Army the next year, following a family tradition that included his grandfather, uncle and two older brothers.

His stepmother, Char DeGand, said he loved the outdoors snowboarding, camping, all-terrain vehicles and had an impressive tan for someone stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

She said he was an organ donor, helping to save other soldiers even after his death.

Martinek also is survived by his father, Michael; mother, Cheryl Brandes Ferguson; and brothers Frank and Michael Jr.

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