Hero of the Week: Carlos Arredondo
By Sgt Awesome
Often when one thinks about the word “hero” your first thought is usually of a Soldier or maybe a policeman or firefighter. Certainly paramedics and all other flavors of first responders will make the list as well. What do all of these professions have in common? Well, their jobs require them to be at the right (or wrong!) place at the right time to help people. This, however, does not mean that they are alone in being able to be labeled a hero.
On April 15th at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, some parasite of humanity decided to set off a couple of bombs a little after the four hour mark to cause as much carnage as possible. He succeeded in injuring many people; however, in addition to all of the first responders on scene who instantly ran towards the blasts to begin assisting victims, countless other civilian spectators and runners also did the same. When the time came in their mind to flip the switch to fight or flight, they almost unanimously flipped to fight as they saw their fellow man laying on the ground in need.
Who are these people? Some are doctors, some are teachers, some are college kids. The heroes of the Boston Marathon literally run the gamut of humanity. I would like to tell you the story of one of these heroes.
Carlos Arredondo, a peace activist, never set out to be a hero, but a hero he became on that fateful day. News stations would turn a picture of Carlos running along in his cowboy hat, apparently pinching closed the femoral artery of a severely injured victim, into a symbol of hope. In all of the sadness and evil that surrounded the day, he truly epitomized the American ideal of greatness.
For Carlos, the story of how he arrived at the finish line that day begins August 25th, 2004, his 44th birthday. A knock came on the door. It was a Marine Corps Casualty Assistance Team come to inform him that his son, Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo on his second tour of duty to Iraq, was killed in action.
I think it goes without saying here, that his world was completely flipped upside down and in his distress, he ended up dousing himself with gasoline inside the MCCAT’s van and starting himself on fire. The Marines pulled him out and he spent some time in the hospital recovering physically, and mentally. It was here that he became an activist for peace and for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He would attend rallies around the country in his truck which is a memorial to his son. At one point in 2007 he was assaulted at an anti-war rally for allegedly holding the flag upside down.
On December 19th, 2011, the day after America officially pulled out of Iraq, Carlos’ other son, 24 year old Brian Arredondo commited suicide. After this second horrible tragedy struck this family, Carlos and his wife Melida dedicated themselves to helping military groups, specifically those related to military suicides.
On April 15th, he was at the finish line handing out American flags to support the Tough Ruck competitors and other runners who were running in honor of America’s fallen Soldiers. After the first blast struck, Carlos jumped over a fence and ran towards the carnage with no thought in his mind but to help.
He came upon 27 year old Jeff Bauman whose shirt was on fire and both of his legs were gone, the left one mid-calf and the right from the knee. He immediately put out the fire with his hands and then took off one of his shirts to use as a tourniquet on Jeff’s left leg. He then grabbed a nearby wheelchair; placed Mr. Bauman in it, pinched closed the artery hanging out of his right leg, and raced along with two others towards an ambulance.
If you ever wonder to yourself, what kind of actions it takes to become a hero, you need look no further than the actions of Mr. Arredondo on April 15th, 2013.
There is currently a petition for the White House to award Mr. Arredondo the Presidential Citizens Medal, which is awarded to “those who [have] performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.” I ask that you co-sign the petition.
A terrorist’s intent is to cause fear and disruption. Americans like Carlos have shown resoundingly that America will NOT be terrorized.
Thank you Carlos, and everyone else in Boston who showed the world the why American people will forever prevail against evil.