Posted on Wed, Aug. 25, 2004

Hollywood man burns military vehicle after learning his son died in Iraq


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 their vehicle.

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 Costa Rica.''

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 situation.''

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.