The Digital Journalist
© Nina Berman

"I had this dream where everything was going to work so good and everything would be fine. Three years in the army. I'll be in and out., Now I look back and think about my thoughts and I think all it was, was a fantasy. That's kind of what it was.

I was always considered the pretty boy in high school. I was always told I was cute, handsome whatever. And I always relied on my physical appearance. That's why I think sometimes I'm glad this happened to me because it made me open my eyes. It's actually who you are inside that makes a difference.

I was going through a great deal of pain and then they put me on a ventilator. I was on a ventilator for 19 days. I couldn't close my eyes because of the fact that the burns on my face were pulling my eyelids. I had to have 8 surgeries done on both eyes. They would put cream in my eyes, you would just try so hard to dream into the sleep, I really didn't get any sleep.

I want to stay in the Army. It's just something I got addicted to and I like it. I'm this great Army soldier. I'm this great picture of the Army.

The biggest issue is freedom. We do things and soldiers do things so that their kids can sit at home and watch TV and not have to worry about what's going to happen. My Mom would always ask me, "Do you like playing Play Station?" And I would say, yeah, and she was like, 'That's why they're doing that (the soldiers in Desert Storm) so you can sit at home and you don't have to worry about anything.

When I came home for the first time that's all I heard, 'You are a hero,' And I say thank you. I appreciate that. That title is a big thing. I've been very fortunate to benefit from how things have worked out for me."

SPC. JOSE MARTINEZ, 20, 101st Airborne, was injured April 5, 2003 in Karbala when the humvee he was driving hit a land mine. Martinez was trapped in the explosion and suffered massive burns to his face, head and body. He has spent the last year in surgery and recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. Photographed April 3, 2004 at his home in Dalton, Georgia,while on a brief hospital leave.