Carlos Arredondo ran to help victims after the first blast occurred. (Source: Raceinxs/Wikimedia)
(RNN) - The man who was interviewed by local media after helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, causing his American flag to become covered in blood, is the father of a marine who was killed in Iraq.
"That was the flag I was holding the whole time and this is how the flag ended up, carrying the blood of all the victims," said Carlos Arredondo, who ran to help victims after the first blast occurred.
Wearing a cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo, 52, was one of the first people on the scene to help victims of the attack. He is seen in several videos and photographs helping people who were severely injured form the blasts.
Unfortunately, Arredondo has known tragedy before. In 2004, his son, Marine Lance Corporal Alexander Arredondo, 20, was killed in Iraq. When Marines came to Carlos Arredondo's home to deliver the news, he was struck with so much grief that he snapped and set himself on fire.
"[Carlos] Arredondo went to his garage, picked up a propane tank, a can of gasoline and a blowtorch," reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Despite initial attempts to stop him, he smashed the van's window, got inside and set it ablaze, police said. In the process, he was set on fire as well."
Carlos Arredondo burned more than 26 percent of his body and had to attend his son's funeral on a stretcher with a paramedic at his side.
He was attending the Boston Marathon to cheer on a runner who dedicated his participation to Alexander Arredondo, according to Mother Jones.
In the years since the loss of his son, Carlos Arredondo has become an anti-war protester. Traveling the country with a flag-covered coffin in his truck, along with several of his son's favorite things, including a soccer ball and a Winnie the Pooh, reported the New York Times.
"Every day we have G.I.'s being killed, and people don't really care enough or do enough to protest about how the war is going," Carlos Arredondo told the Times in 2007. "Some people say I'm dishonoring my son by doing this, but this is my pain, my loss."
Originally from Costa Rica, Carlos Arredondo now lives in Boston, where he and his wife, Mélida, advocate for military families and speak out against the effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
"We continue talking about Alex and Brian because we don't want them forgotten," Mélida Arredondo said, according to the Tico Times. "It turns into a number or a monument, like the Vietnam War, and past that, people forget. We're here to say ‘no.' War impacts all of our lives."
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