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Iraq war vet and 'Dancing With the Stars' contestant named Roses grand marshal

J.R. Martinez, who suffered burns over much of his body in the Iraq War, will use honor to celebrate other soldiers.

November 01, 2011|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

J.R. Martinez — a former soldier, actor and current contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” — was named the grand marshal today for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade on Jan. 2.

Martinez, the current cover story for “People” magazine, underwent 33 surgeries after his Humvee triggered a land mine in Iraq in 2003 and he suffered burns over much of his body.

Tournament of Roses Assn. President Rick Jackson announced Martinez on the front lawn of the Tournament House today, setting off a pop of red, white and blue confetti stars.

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“To be able to participate in such an iconic American tradition is such an honor for me,” Martinez said, adding that he looked forward to using the grand marshal platform to represent actively serving, retired, and fallen military service members.

He said he would share the message of true beauty and “how deep beauty really goes.”

Martinez, 28, said he grew up watching the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game.

Eight years ago, he said he was in a hospital bed unsure of his place in the world.

“I always knew if I found ways to stay positive, if I found ways to maintain a great attitude, if I found ways to continuously make a choice to want something better for myself…to make the most of this second opportunity to help those around me, good things would happen,” he said.

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