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The man in the cowboy hat: An American hero in Boston

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One of the most graphic images of the aftermath of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon is of a man who appears to have lost both of his legs being rushed to an ambulance in a wheelchair.

Among the responders helping this victim is a man wearing a cowboy hat, and he appears to be pinching closed a severed artery protruding from the victim’s thigh, stanching the flow of blood from a torn and shattered leg, as reported by NBC News. (AP photo)

In a powerful moment, Carlos Arredondo is captured on video holding an American flag drenched in blood as he tells bystanders what happened, at times violently shaking from the ordeal:

It turns out this hero has quite a story, according to NBC News.

Arredondo was at the race to support a group running for fallen veterans as his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, died in battle in Iraq in 2004. As reported by NBC:

When Marines arrived in a van to deliver the news, on Arredondo’s 44th birthday, he grabbed a can of gasoline and a torch from his garage, climbed inside the van and doused it, then set fire to it, severely burning himself in the process, The Associated Press reported at the time.

The New York Times wrote about Arredondo in 2007, finding him a man distraught who was manning a makeshift mobile memorial in the back of his pickup. There was a coffin containing his son’s favorite possessions, and then there were the photos.

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

As if that weren’t enough of an ordeal for any one person to deal with, Arredondo was publicly beaten during an anti-war demonstration in Washington in 2007, and in December 2011, Carlos’ other son, Brian, 24, took his own life.

Monday’s hero told The Boston Herald in 2012. “We are broken people,” as noted by NBC News.

Tom Tillison


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