Posted on Wed, Aug. 25, 2004
Hollywood man burns military vehicle after learning
his son died in Iraq
BY AMY SHERMAN, HANNAH SAMPSON AND PHIL LONG
A Hollywood man was severely burned after he ignited a U.S. Marine Corps
van upon learning from the Marines that his son had died in Iraq,
according to Hollywood police.
The father, Carlos Arredondo, was upset about notification that his son,
Alexander Arredondo, had been killed in combat.
''I have not seen this type of reaction'' to a death notification, said
Marine Maj. Scott Mack.
At about 2:14 p.m., Marines went to 5430 Tyler Street to inform the
family about Alexander Arredondo's death. The Marines told the parents
of the 20-year-old Marine that their son died last night in Najaf, Iraq.
Police said Carlos Arredondo got a propane tank and a container with
gasoline and a blowtorch and set the Marines' van on fire. Carlos
Arredondo, who turned 44 today, had set himself on fire in the process
and was inside the burning van, police said. Marines pulled him out of
the van and extinguished the fire burning him.
The van was gutted.
The Marines told police they couldn't stop the man before he got in
Melida Arrendondo, the dead Marine's stepmother, said her husband could
see the Marines through a window when they pulled up.
''My husband knew that his firstborn son had been killed, and my husband
did not take the news well,'' she said.
Carlos Arredondo was first taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in
Hollywood but was being transferring to the burn unit at Jackson
Memorial Hospital in Miami late Wednesday afternoon.
Police and hospital officials said Carlos Arredondo was in serious but
guarded condition this afternoon with second-degree burns over 30
percent to 50 percent of his body.
Melida Arredondo said 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 the dead Marine's grandmother, Luz Marina Arrredondo Piedra, took a
less charitable stance toward American involvement in Iraq.
''They should stop this now,'' she said, refering to the war. ``They
send them like Guinea pigs over there. They don't do this garbage in
Melida Arredondo said her stepson had never lived outside of
Masssachusetts before he enlisted in the Marines. The family moved to
Florida earlier this year.
''He felt that the family didn't have the financial resources. He didn't
want to be a burden,'' she said of her stepson, who was on his second
tour of duty.
''It is one tragedy on top of another tragedy,'' said Marine Capt.
Patrick Kerr, media officer for Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans.
The Marines who went to the house are reservists assigned to the 8th
Tank Battalion out of Hialeah. They were members of a military Casualty
Assistance Calls Officer team, Kerr said.
''Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,'' Kerr said. ``Our
foremost concern is for the welfare of the father who was burned. We
will do everything we can to help the family through this very difficult
Because of Department of Defense rules, Kerr said he was unable to talk
about identification of the Marine who was killed. The military must
wait 24 hours after a service member's next of kin is notified before
releasing the name to the public.