'Dancing With the Stars' Winner J.R. Martinez Visits Pentagon

DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and J.R. Martinez

The Iraq War veteran met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Dancing With the Stars champion J.R. Martinez was given a star-studded reception when he visited the Pentagon on Thursday. Only, unlike his stint on the ABC reality show, the stars surrounding Martinez were of the military kind.

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Martinez, 28, not only met with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, but also Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior leaders.

Martinez, who, as an Army infantryman was severely burned by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2003, recently took home the mirrorball trophy on the 13th season of Dancing With the Stars. After his win, he received a congratulatory phone call from Panetta.

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When he went to the Pentagon to meet with military leaders, Martinez was greeted by his many fans in the military hub. “Young military aides, seasoned officers and civilian assistants poured out of offices to meet and congratulate the Dancing With the Stars winner -- who happily accommodated every request for a handshake or photo,” said Doug Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

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In 2003, Martinez was a 19-year-old Army infantryman in Iraq. He was driving a when the vehicle hit a roadside bomb, and Martinez suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. After 32 surgeries and three years of recovery, Martinez won the role of Brot Monroe on All My Children. He also serves as a motivational speaker.

Martinez will next co-host the pre-show of CNN's Heroes: An All-Star Tribute on Dec. 11.