Thursday, April 20, 2006
Carlos Arredondo's Story
This world is full of kind and loving people. Carlos Arredondo is the definition of kind and loving. Here, you see him and what he has left, on the physical plane, of his son. In the following article, you can read what this father's immediate grief looked like. I don't know what Carlos' private grief looks like now, but in public, his presence is a real and healing salve for our world.
August 25, 2004
Hollywood, Florida -- Melida Arredondo said her husband knew what was coming as three uniformed Marines approached their front door.
And when they told him Wednesday afternoon that his Marine son, Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo of Randolph, Mass., had been killed in combat in Iraq, police say Carlos Arredondo simply snapped. Arredondo climbed into the Marine Corps van parked outside his home and set it ablaze, suffering severe burns.
"This is his scream that his child is dead. The war needs to stop," Melida Arredondo, who had rushed home from work when she heard the news, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."
The military had informed her husband that his 20-year-old son, who is Melida Arredondo's stepson, died Tuesday in Najaf, family members said. The father then walked into the garage, picking up a propane tank, a can of gasoline and a lighting device, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van's window, got inside and set it ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said.
The Marines, reservists who are members of a military Casualty Assistance Calls Officer team, pulled Arredondo, 44, from the burning vehicle and extinguished the flames on him, police said. None of the Marines was injured but the van was gutted, Marines spokesman Maj. Scott Mack said.
"The father was in disbelief, same as any of us would be after hearing this kind of news," Rode said. "But then the father basically loses it. You can only imagine what this father was going through. He snapped, to say the least."
Alexander Arredondo, who turned 20 this month, grew up in Norwood, Mass., and moved to Randolph in 1999, according to his mother, Victoria Foley, who told the Patriot Ledger of Quincy that her son "knew at age 16 that he wanted to go into the Marines." He joined shortly after he graduated from Blue Hills Regional Technical School in 2002.
Foley, of Bangor, Maine, was divorced from Carlos Arredondo in the late 1980s. She said she spoke to her son the day he died, the Ledger reported.
"He said that it was going to get bad, and he was really happy where he was, Najaf. He was upbeat," Foley said.
Carlos Arredondo was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood with burns over as much as 50 percent of his body, emergency officials said.
He was later moved to the major burn unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, about 20 miles south of Hollywood. He was in serious condition with severe burns to his arms and legs. Melida Arredondo said Thursday that he is expected to recover.
She told The Miami Herald that her husband, an immigrant from Costa Rica, "was very proud of Alex serving," though he wished his service would have been during a "more peaceful" time. But Luz Marina Arredondo, Alexander's grandmother, felt the government was at fault for her grandson's death.
"I blame them a lot," she said. "They send them like guinea pigs over there." Marine spokesman Capt. Patrick Kerr in New Orleans told the Herald that the incident was "one tragedy on top of another tragedy."
"Our foremost concern is for the welfare of the father who was burned," Kerr said. "We will do everything we can to help the family through this very difficult situation."
Rode said it was too early in the investigation to discuss possible charges against Arredondo. "We'll see how he recovers before doing anything," he said.
U.S. forces in Najaf have been battling for nearly five months against Iraqi militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Alexander Arredondo will be buried in Norwood, according to his stepmother.