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Cowboy Hat-Wearing Man Helping Boston Bombing Victims Is Father of Fallen Soldier, Peace Activist: Here's His Story


"We are broken people."

There are dozens of horrifying photos showing the extreme extent of victims wounds from the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred Monday afternoon. One of the most graphic pictures shows a man with both legs blown off in a wheelchair. Among those helping this man is a cowboy hat-wearing fellow who is being hailed as a hero.

This photo shows Arredondo helping a man who lost both of his legs. This is a cropped version of the original photo, which shows the full, graphic extent of the man's wounds. (Photo: AP/Charles Krupa)

The explosions that occurred in Massachusetts on Patriots' Day at the finish line of the 26.2-mile race killed three and injured more than 140. Instantly, after the two explosions that occurred 10 seconds apart around 2:50 p.m., emergency responders sprang into action -- but so did spectators and uninjured runners.

Carlos Arredondo was one of them. As Gawker pointed out, he is easily identifiable in many photos and video of the chaotic scene because of his cowboy hat and long hair.

What is Arredono's story?

According to Maine's Portland Press Herald, Arredondo is the father of a fallen soldier who attended the race to watch those running in honor of these men. He was handing out small American flags near the finish line when the explosions occurred.

Within moments, he and a man from Maine, who too was there to support runners honoring fallen soldiers, leapt over a spectator barrier toward the injured. The Press Herald reported Arredondo saying he tried to use his own clothing and towels he could find to stop the bleeding of victims.

Of the man he was pictured helping in the wheelchair with the EMT and another woman, Arredondo told the Press Herald, "I kept talking to him. I kept saying, 'Stay with me, stay with me.'"

The Daily Beast reported Arredondo saying he used someone's sweater to apply a tourniquet to the man's leg. Arredondo rushed with the man to a medical tent and saw him off -- still conscious -- in an ambulance, telling him "'you're going to be fine.'"

By Monday night, Arredondo and Vietnam War veteran John Mixon from Maine, who too sprung to help victims on the scene, were at Mixon's daughter's apartment. The Press Herald describes Arredondo wearing a blood-stained sweatshirt and still having some of the small American flags he had been handing out to race finishers hours earlier.

Carlos Arredondo, who was at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon when two explosives detonated, leaves the scene on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a bloody flag. (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The Daily Beast went on to report Arredondo wearing two buttons -- one for his son who was a fallen soldier and the other for his son who committed suicide years later as America was pulling out of Iraq. Arredondo was handing out flags in honor of the men who he said were killed due to the war on terror.


Given his sons' deaths, Arredondo, originally from Costa Rica, is no stranger to tragic events. In fact, a 2006 article in the Broward Palm Beach Times recounted how Arredondo had two years earlier in Hollywood, Fla., shut himself in a Marine van doused with gasoline and set it on fire after he found out his son had been killed in Iraq. It was his 44th birthday. Arredondo was saved and treated for severe burns in Boston.

After he recovered from second degree burns, Arredondo became a peace activist.

The New York Times reported more on his efforts in 2007. It reported Arredondo setting up a mobile memorial in the back of his truck with pictures of his son, Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, and a coffin draped with an American flag:

The display is sad, personal and emotionally jarring. But this is how Mr. Arredondo honors and mourns his son, who was a fire team leader in Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), First Marine Expeditionary Force. This is how Mr. Arredondo heals.

“As long as there are marines fighting and dying in Iraq, I’m going to share my mourning with the American people,” he said.

Mr. Arredondo, who lives in Boston, travels the country putting his sorrow on display. He accepts donations along the way. The coffin he takes with him holds some of his son’s things: a soccer ball, a pair of his favorite shoes, a Winnie the Pooh. He also shows people his son’s boots, uniform and dog tags.

Carlos Arredondo, left, of Boston, whose son was killed in Iraq, and Nawal Thyab, an Iraqi woman living in Lowell, Mass., listen to a speaker during a Memorial Day event sponsored in part by the groups Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out, Monday, May 31, 2010, in Boston. (Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer)

In January 2012, the Boston Herald (via NBC News) interviewed Arredondo only a month after his second son's death. Arredondo said at the time "we are broken people."

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