A 21-year-old Marine from Elgin died Thursday in Afghanistan's Helmand province, the Department of Defense said.
Cpl. Alex Martinez, was assigned to the the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
"We have an aunt who's in the Army and then my dad's in the Navy Reserves, so he kind of wanted to be like them," one of his sisters, Jenny Martinez, told NBC Chicago on Saturday. "He wanted to serve his country and just try to make a better future for all the younger kids and their families."
Martinez joined the Marines shortly after turning 18 in December of 2008, said Martinez’s stepfather, Jim Bethke.
"He took summer classes so he could graduate early and join the Marines," Bethke said. "It was something he wanted to do. He was proud to be a Marine."
Bethke said that prior to joining the Marines, Martinez married his fiancée, Julianna.
"It’s been really tough for her," Bethke said.
Martinez’s family left Saturday for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where his remains will be flown to from Afghanistan, Bethke said.
Martinez was the second Marine from the Chicago area to die in Afghanistan in a little more than a month. Cpl. Conner Lowry was electrocuted in early March.