Carlos Arredondo

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Carlos Arredondo
Breck Eisner
Carlos Arredondo at the January 2007 anti-war protest in Washington, D.C.
Born Carlos Luis de Los Ángeles Arredondo Piedra
(1960-08-25) August 25, 1960 (age 58)
San José, Costa Rica[1]
Nationality Costa Rican-American
Occupation Peace activist, volunteer, cab, bus & truck driver[2]

Carlos Alexander Brian Arredondo[3] (born Carlos Luis de Los Ángeles Arredondo Piedra; August 25, 1960) is a Costa Rican-American peace activist and an American Red Cross volunteer.[4] He became an anti-war activist after his 20-year-old eldest son Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo died in action during Iraq War in 2004.[5]

Death of first son[edit]

Arredondo's first wife, Victoria Foley, gave birth to the couple's two sons, Marine Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo and Brian Luis Arredondo. Alexander Scott and Brian Luis were born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised on South Street in Jamaica Plain, Boston. After the couple divorced, both sons lived with their mother. Alexander graduated from the Blue Hills Regional Technical School, Canton in 2002 and joined the US Marines the same year.[6]

Alexander Scott was killed in Najaf, Iraq, during his second tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom on August 25, 2004. Later that day, which was Carlos Arredondo's 44th birthday, the Marines Corps Casualty Assistance Team arrived at the Arredondo home in Hollywood, Florida, to notify the family of their son's death. The Marines had not brought a chaplain with them and spoke with Arredondo in the front yard of his home. Arredondo was distressed by the news, and became upset and agitated when the Marines refused to leave.[7]

After some time went by, according to news reports, Arredondo was so distraught that he grabbed a hammer and proceeded to destroy the Marines' van. He then grabbed gasoline and climbed in the Marines' van and splashed gasoline inside the van. A propane torch he had brought inside was lit accidentally, Arredondo said.[8][better source needed]

Arredondo was pulled out to safety by the Marines, however his clothes had caught fire and burned 26% of his body. He received second- and third-degree burns. He was hospitalized in a burn unit for two weeks followed by outpatient home-based treatment. Despite his burns, he attended his son's funeral on a stretcher with two paramedics at his side.[9] Arredondo and his wife Melida both spent time as inpatient psychiatric patients.[10]

The incident is highlighted in the documentary film The Prosecution of an American President, directed by Dave Hagen and David J. Burke. Arredondo and his wife Melida traveled to Hollywood to speak at a screening for the film at the Arclight theater in October, 2012.[11]

Arredondo, who once was an undocumented immigrant[12][13][14] and is now a US citizen[15] is originally from Costa Rica. At the time he had no insurance and was self-employed[citation needed] working as a handyman. His story made national and international headlines. His recovery took over a year. Since that time he apologized to the Marines for his drastic actions. He was not prosecuted.[16] His son was also awarded Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat "V" and the Purple Heart for his services during the battle.[6]


Arredondo along with his second wife Melida[17] were members of the now defunct organization Gold Star Families For Peace[18] whose mission stated:

We as families of soldiers who have died as a result of war are organizing to be a positive force in our world to bring our country's sons and daughters home from Iraq, [and] to minimize the human cost of this war...

Arredondo and his wife Mélida became activists for peace and have had speaking engagements around the country speaking about his personal tragedy and to parents about the methods recruiters use to enlist youth.[citation needed] He especially works to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community.[19]

The Arredondos requested during Mitt Romney's governorship to have flags placed at half-staff upon the death of a Massachusetts native related to his or her war injuries in 2005, a wish that Alex had when he noticed after his first deployment how the public was not noticing the war deaths. They have also lobbied for families' decisions to allow press to cover the arrival of their troops' remains from the combat zone, a statute from George Bush, Sr.'s administration.[9]

On December 12, 2006, Arredondo became a U.S citizen, with the help of U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.[20] He became eligible for citizenship under USCIS INA 329A which allowed parents of those killed in action to become US citizens.[3] He legally changed his name to Alexander Brian Arredondo upon receiving his citizenship.

During a daytime peaceful anti-war protest on September 15, 2007, Arredondo was physically assaulted by a mob of counter protesters. The assailants followed Arredondo as he pulled his son's memorial, purposely yelling epiphets and eventually seizing a photo of Alex from the casket. An attempt to retrieve his dead son's photo provoked the men to kick Arredondo in the head, legs, stomach and back. Police defused the situation before major damage could be inflicted.[21]

In August 2011, a federal post office at 655 Centre St in Jamaica Plain, Boston, a neighborhood where his son grew up, was renamed "Lance Corporal Alexander Scott Arredondo, United States Marine Corps Post Office Building" following legislation proposed by US Representative Michael E. Capuano and co-sponsored by nine other legislators, and later signed by the President in January 2011.[6]

Brian Arredondo[edit]

On December 19, 2011, Arredondo's surviving son, Brian, died by suicide after battling depression and drug addiction ever since his brother's death.[5][14] He was 24 years old at the time.[22] Since Brian's death, the Arredondos have dedicated themselves to attending suicide groups sessions and conferences, especially related to military-related suicides. Both have worked with elected officials in the City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts to change systems regarding suicide policy.[vague][23]

Boston Marathon bombings[edit]

On April 15, 2013 Arredondo attended the 2013 Boston Marathon. At around 2:50 p.m. EDT (18:50 UTC), two bombs were detonated during the race in Copley Square, just before the finish line.[24] Arredondo immediately sprinted into action and he can be seen in a series of photos and videos of the aftermath pulling debris and fencing away from the bloody victims, clearing the way for emergency personnel to tend to their wounds. He saw Jeff Bauman, missing both of his legs and losing blood rapidly. Arredondo lifted Bauman and put him into a wheelchair, and when the fabric used as a tourniquet kept getting caught in the wheels, Arredondo held the fabric out of the way.[25]

In an iconic photograph Carlos Arredondo with his cowboy hat is helping rush Jeff Bauman, to an ambulance.[26] He remains in touch with the victims of the bombings, including Jeff Bauman. Arredondo was a spectator of the race, there to support and cheer on members of the National Guard Tough Ruck group, who were running to raise money for families of fallen service members and raise awareness about suicide. A soldier was running in honor of his two deceased sons.[27]


  1. ^ "Busqueda de Cédula Jurídica: 105390668". Registro Civil de Costa Rica. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  2. ^ Donn, Jeff (17 April 2013). "Marathon rescuer gets attention from press and FBI". Yahoo! news. Associated Press.
  3. ^ a b Levin, Matt (10 February 2012). "A death in Iraq changes Tico family forever". Tico Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  4. ^ "A father's agony: Son commits suicide on day U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq - seven years after his brother was killed in action". London. January 3, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Watson, Leon; Pow, Helen (16 April 2013). "Hero of the Boston bombings: How father who lost his soldier son in Iraq saved lives after blasts rocked his home city". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Rocheleau, Matt (August 5, 2011). "Jamaica Plain post office to be renamed Sunday in hero's honor". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  7. ^ Richards, Eugene (20 April 2006). "War Is Personal: Carlos Arredondo/Age 45/Roslindale, Massachusetts". The Nation. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Father who burned self after son's death becomes citizen". Associated Press. December 12, 2006. Archived from the original on March 14, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Lee, Trymaine (1 February 2007). "A Father With a Coffin, Telling of War's Grim Toll". New York Times.
  10. ^ Marquard, Bryan (23 January 2012). "Brian Arredondo, 24; troubled by brother's death, father's trauma". Boston Globe. Boston, MA. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  11. ^ "The Prosecution of an American President Q & A". 24 October 2012.
  12. ^ "A Father Transformed by Anguish: Scars Define the Man Who Burned Himself After Son's Death in Iraq". David Finkel. January 15, 2005.
  13. ^ COSTANTINI, CRISTINA (April 16, 2013). "Carlos Arredondo, Grieving Dad Turned Hero in Boston Tragedy". Univision. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19.
  14. ^ a b Raja, Tasneem (15 April 2013). "The Man in the Cowboy Hat: Meet Carlos Arredondo, a Hero of the Boston Bombings".
  15. ^ "Boston Marathon Bombings: Carlos Arredondo is the illegal immigrant who was there to help". Anorak. April 16, 2013.
  16. ^ Kaye, Ken (27 August 2004). "Father of dead Marine won't be charged with setting fire to van".
  17. ^ McNamara, Eileen (17 April 2013). "The Redemption Of The Man In The Cowboy Hat". 90.9 WBUR.
  18. ^ "Gold Star Families For Peace". Archived from the original on 2005-08-25. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
  19. ^ Nereim, Vivian (13 July 2009). "Affected by violence, they walk together is sorrow, hope".
  20. ^ Barnicle, Mike (9 December 2012). "The Afghan War Through a Marine Mother's Eyes". Time.
  21. ^ Swanson, David (18 September 2007). "The People Who Assaulted a Gold Star Father on September 15th". Archived from the original on 19 April 2013.
  22. ^ Ashlock, Alex (20 December 2011). "Father loses second son". Here and Now. WBUR/Trustees of Boston University.
  23. ^ Wright, Colonel Ann (22 August 2012). "More Costs of War: Suicides and Mental Trauma of Military Family Members".
  24. ^ "Explosions rock Boston Marathon, several injured". CNN. April 15, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  25. ^ Mayo, Michael (April 15, 2013). "FAME IN A FLASH". Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  26. ^ Rohan, Tim (17 April 2013). "In Grisly Image a Father Sees His Son". New York Times. p. A14. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  27. ^ "Jeff Bauman gets visit from Carlos Arredondo, the man who helped save his life". Concord Monitor. 24 April 2013. Archived from the original on 27 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.

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