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ZACHARY LYNN MARTINEZ


ZACHARY LYNN MARTINEZ
March 3, 1984 ~ November 29, 2012

The long awaited birth of Zachary Lynn Martinez on March 3rd, 1984 into the loving arms of parents Linda and Randy Martinez set into motion an incredible adventure of a boy small in stature but with the strength, resolve, dedication and determination of a giant. The world had a true hero in Zachary Martinez. However, his journey here with us ended far too early. Last Thursday, November 29th, due to complications from diabetes, Our Lord took him home. But Zach's story is not over. He showed us all in his 28 years there is much to be done.
Zach was Linda and Randy's first-born child. Followed closely by Shannon, Joshua and Catherine. He attended La Center High School where he thrived and was loved by classmates, teammates and community members. As ASB Vice President, his leadership skills flourished, skills that would serve him and the United States well during the 5 tours he would later serve in the war in Iraq. His years in La Center would also serve as inspiration for many younger student-athletes who looked up to Zach. In back-to-back years, Zachary qualified for the WIAA State wrestling tournament. And in 2002, his Senior year, Zach was La Center Wildcat Football team's running back and team captain and lead the Wildcats to their first ever playoff birth in school history. But Zach knew there were much bigger things to be done.
Upon graduation in 2002, Zach joined the United States Air Force. The War in Iraq began in 2003 and Zach began what was ultimately 5 front line tours as a Staff Sergeant in the 824th Ghost Walkers. His bravery, passion, and resolve never failing. He served proudly beside his fellow servicemen and as mentioned in a recent letter received from a fellow Veteran, his actions, like so many Veterans' saved lives. But his sacrifice came at the cost of his health. Though ill, and weak, Zach wanted to keep serving. And even after his Honorable Discharge, he was committed to impacting the lives of those suffering. Zach knew that life for returning Veterans was more than just tough. It was often impossible and always frustrating, and he wanted to make a difference. He was determined to finish school and ultimately work for the V.A. so he could help to make life better for the future returning Veterans.
That was Zach. Every day working to make someone else's life a little easier, no matter how sick or weak he may have been that day. Always insisting on making the right choices, never just the easy ones. When anyone was with Zach they learned from him. He brought out the best in everyone he met. Zach had a unique ability to reach his friends deeply and to listen as no others could. He had a song for every feeling and raised the bar for honesty and purity of heart. During his hardest days, Zach found his greatest solace in the few places he knew he'd find peace; at his parent's home playing with his nieces and nephew or just time on a bench talking with other Veterans who shared his pain. Zach's circle of friends spans the globe. But his full ripple of influence we may never fully know. Surely, as he reconnects with the far too many U.S. Veterans now in heaven, they will find a nice park bench where they can reminisce and keep watch over us all once again.
Zach's commitment to the United States is matched only by his dedication to his incredible family. Zach showered The Martinez family with inspiration and love throughout his life. He lived for family time, talking hours about music and the Blazers with his sisters and brother and was always there to help anyone he thought might need a hand or a listening ear.
Zachary is survived by his loving parents, Randy and Linda Martinez of La Center, WA; brother, Joshua ( Erica) Martinez of Vancouver, WA; nieces, Samantha Marie and Rebecca Lorin Montgomery of Longview, WA; niece, Sophia Martinez-Manor or Woodland, WA; sister, Shannon Martinez (Brad) Bacon and children, Miles and Jillian of Kane'ohe Military Base Hawaii; sister, Catherine Martinez of Vancouver, WA; grandparents, Allen Montgomery, Roy and Cathy Kausman, Jack and Niti Tait and Marilyn Martinez; and dear friends, Jason Shannon and Micah Aday.
He was preceded in death by "Marty" Martinez and Betty Carlson.
If asked, Zach might say we honor his memory by trying to smile our way through the pain. Love each other more deeply, tolerate our differences, criticize far less and help far more, hire Veterans, embrace even the difficult people in our lives and make amends. Fuss over every child and shower them with love. Be a better friend. And Zach, you were right, there's much work to be done. We will be better people because of you. You have changed us. ~ We love you Zach and we thank you.
In lieu of flowers, a Memorial Fund has been established in honor of Zachary Lynn Martinez at Chase Bank.
Full Military Honors will be presented Willamette National Cemetery on Thursday, December 6th 2:30 p.m. All are welcome.
Memorial service for Zachary will be held Saturday at 2:00 p.m., Cascade Park Baptist Church. All are welcome.
Please sign his guest book at: www.columbian.com/obits.

Published in The Columbian on Dec. 4, 2012
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