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J.R. Martinez named Rose Parade grand marshal

'All My Children' actor and Iraq War veteran J.R. Martinez and his partner Karina Smirnoff received 22 out of 30 from the judges for their Viennese Waltz on the season premiere of 'Dancing With The Stars.'

November 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Iraq war veteran and "Dancing With The Stars" contestant J.R. Martinez has been named grand marshal of the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Martinez will lead the procession of floats in the 123rd Rose Parade on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. The former "All My Children" star will also toss the coin before kickoff of the 98th Rose Bowl Game in honor of all wounded military personnel.

"J.R. Martinez is an inspiration to us all and a natural fit for our theme Just Imagine...," said Rick Jackson, president of the Tournament of Roses. "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."

Martinez said he's grateful for the opportunity to share his message of hope and possibility.

He said ever since he was injured in Iraq, he's tried to stay positive because when you stay positive, good things will happen.

Martinez was deployed to Iraq in March 2003. During his deployment, he was severely burned when his Humvee hit a land mine in Karbala. Three other soldiers were ejected from the burning vehicle, but Martinez was trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to 40 percent of his body.

After spending 34 months in recovery and undergoing 33 different surgeries, Martinez became a motivational speaker, traveling the country to meet with other injured soldiers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.