Mr. Speaker, the great General Douglas MacArthur of World War II once commented, ``I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.'' Lance Corporal Robert ``Robbie'' Alexander Martinez was a member of this fine fighting organization. He was killed December 1 while fighting and serving our Nation in Iraq. He was a member of the Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, based at Marine Corps Air Ground and Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.

Mr. Speaker, to date, there have been 185 Texans killed since the war began in March 2003. Lance Corporal Martinez was just 20 years of age. He was on his second Iraqi tour. He had already spent 7 months on the Syrian border in 2004. He went to Iraq and into Fallujah this past June. He and nine other Marines were killed last Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded next to them in the deadliest attack against American troops in Iraq in 4 months. Martinez was scheduled to come home this past Monday but at the last minute his tour was extended for a month and a half.

Just a week ago, Robbie Martinez had just called his mother and asked her to buy a diamond because he was coming home. He had planned to propose to his ``love at first sight'' girlfriend, Taylor Wilkenson, as soon as he got back.

Robbie Martinez graduated from Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Texas, in 2003. While in high school, he was known as the peacemaker. By the time he started his senior year, he had already signed up for the Marines. He pre-enlisted at the age of 17 so he could be activated as soon as he graduated from high school. Martinez was a baseball pitcher at Cleveland High and dreamed of getting his degree in education and becoming a baseball coach. He put his dreams on hold to join the elite fighting forces of the United States Marine Corps. He left for basic training 2 days after he graduated from high school.

Lance Corporal Martinez's stepfather, Jeremy Hunt, called Robbie his ``diamond in the rough'' and one of the greatest things that had ever come into his life. He said Robbie loved being in the Corps and was proud of it. He was proud of being a Marine. He knew he was there for a reason and he was resolving the situation in Iraq and looking forward to coming home. He had requested lots of candy in his care packages from Texas. This candy was not for him because he would hand it out to the Iraqi children that he would see.

He is remembered for his infectious smile and someone who loved spending time with his family and friends, barbecuing and making people smile. Robbie's mother, Kelly Hunt, said that her 14-year-old son Mikie wants to join the military, just like his brother.

President Ronald Reagan once said, ``Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem.'' Lance Corporal Martinez was working to make a difference in the world when he gave his life. His bravery, his dedication, his patriotism will not be forgotten by his friends, his family and freedom-loving peoples throughout the world.

Lance Corporal Martinez died for this country, the Iraqi people and for that word freedom. His Nation made the call and he responded without hesitation with his unwavering courage and his commitment. He served his country with honor and distinction. He wanted to be in the Marines since he was 12 years of age.

Mr. Speaker, as we extend our prayers and our condolences to his parents, his relatives, his friends and his fellow students at Cleveland High School in Texas, we take time to reflect on this American hero's devotion to country and to the people of Iraq. He is a heroic representative of the State of Texas and an honorable defender of liberty and freedom.

Country music singer Brad Cotter wrote the following in his tribute to American soldiers and it is fitting right now:

``Thank God for Americans in uniform. Those who fight to keep our freedom every day. Thank God for Americans in uniform. Those who fight to keep us safe along our way.''

Semper Fi, Lance Corporal Martinez. Semper Fi.