By David Silverstein, Pentagon Channel Senior News Producer
In 2003, Army veteran J.R. Martinez suffered disfiguring burns on more than 40 percent of his body after his Humvee hit a landmine in Iraq.
He underwent a nearly three-year recovery period and had 33 surgeries, including multiple skin grafts!
Now, he’s a celebrity featured on Dancing with the Stars.
A Pentagon Channel Photographer and I flew to Los Angeles to interview the Wounded Warrior, actor and wildly-popular Dancing with the Stars Contestant.
All my photographer and I knew in advance is we would have time to talk to J.R. as well as his dancing partner Karina Smirnoff, and we could tape some of their practice session for the show.
We arrived at their dance rehearsal studio in the heart of Hollywood. From the looks of the non-descript building just off of Santa Monica Blvd., you would never know the place is filled with celebrities dancing to stay alive in a reality show competition.
J.R. was running late to our interview because he was doing a segment with Entertainment Tonight in another part of town.
Karina gave us great insight into the show, which she’s been on for 8 seasons and has danced with stars like Ralph Macchio, “The Situation” and Mario Lopez.
She’s never won Dancing with the Stars, but she’s hoping she and J.R. win this year, and then go on a USO Tour helping to bring Dance to service members around the world.
J.R. and his publicist showed up and we began our interview shortly afterwards.
This interview convinced me of what a truly genuine person he is who believes he’s been given a second chance at life. Listening to J.R. speak was inspiring.
Since his injuries, he’s become a motivational speaker, an actor on All My Children and now a reality show star. His courage is incredible and he wears his scars of war proudly.
He says he’s dancing in tribute to all Wounded Warriors, Veterans and their families. He wants people to always make the most of your second chances.
J.R. certainly is.
Good luck J.R. and Karina, everyone here at The Pentagon Channel is rooting for you!