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J.R. Martinez named Rose Parade marshal

Nov. 27, 2011 at 10:19 AM   |   Comments

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PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The Tournament of Roses named J.R. Martinez, the injured Iraq war veteran who won "Dancing with the Stars," as grand marshal of its Jan. 1 parade in Pasadena.

Martinez will ride at the front of the 123rd edition of the parade, which is seen on worldwide television and leads up to the Rose Bowl college football game.

This year's parade has the theme "Just Imagine," which tournament officials said fits Martinez perfectly.

"J.R. is not only a courageous and engaging role model for us all but has dedicated himself to helping not only servicemen and servicewomen, but all Americans facing challenges," Tournament President Rick Jackson said in a statement. "His outlook on life is admirable and we couldn't be happier to have the chance to celebrate the New Year with him."

Martinez was seriously burned in an explosion while serving as a U.S. Army paratrooper in 2003. After extensive recovery and rehabilitation, he went on to break into acting on the ABC soap opera "All My Children."

Martinez also teamed up with Karina Smirmoff on this season's "Dancing with the Stars." The couple's win last week brought Martinez a phone call from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Panetta congratulated Martinez for his fancy footwork and for his advocacy on behalf of other wounded veterans, a Pentagon spokesman told The Hill.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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