Carlos Arredondo

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Carlos Arredondo is the Gold Star Father of 20-year old U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Alexander S. Arrendondo who was killed August 25, 2004, by enemy fire in An Najaf during a second tour of duty in Iraq.[1][2]

"When three Marines came to their Florida home to notify them [Carlos and his wife, Mélida Arredondo] of Alex's death, Carlos Arredondo went into his garage and came out with a propane tank, a gallon of gasoline and a welder's torch.

"He got in the Marines' van and set it on fire while he was sitting inside. They pulled his burning body out of the van and saved him, but Arredondo was severely burned.

"He attended Alex's wake, funeral Mass and graveside service on a stretcher, attended by two paramedics, according to his wife."[1]

Anti-war protest in D.C. September 15, 2007

Carlos Arrendondo participated in the September 15, 2007, anti-war protest in Washington, D.C., with his traveling memorial—a mock coffin draped in an American flag with the combat boots and a photograph of his eldest son, Lance Corporal Alexander S. Arrendondo, who was killed in Iraq.[3]

On September 19, 2007, David Swanson of After Downing Street described[4] what can be clearly seen in photographs posted on the organization's website:

"Here are photos of members of 'Gathering of Eagles' who assaulted gold star father Carlos Arredondo in broad daylight in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2007, throwing him to the ground and kicking him."

Arrendondo's wife, Mélida Arredondo, described the event which unfolded:[4]

"As Carlos passed counter protesters, one man ripped a picture of Alex from the memorial. Carlos leaped on the man to retrieve the picture. It was at that point that approximately five others all began to attack Carlos by kicking him in the head, legs, stomach and back.
"The Capitol police bicycle patrol then appeared to break up the fight. Several officers including a female officer were engaged in breaking up the fight and were able to stop any further injuries from occurring. Hannah Jones who was walking with Carlos was also assaulted.
"A bystander named Ramesh witnessed the whole encounter and also retrieved the picture of Alex for Carlos. He was quite distressed at how he watched the men follow Carlos as he pulled the memorial, purposefully yelling epiphets and eventually taking Alex's photograph. Soon, an ambulance showed up as well as many concerned activists. The paramedics provided first aid to Carlos but he did not seek further medical attention. Carlos sustained bloody cuts on his shins. He also reported bruises all over his torso and head where he was kicked."

On September 17, 2007, Democracy Now! reported the following:[5]

Arrendondo "marched with the coffin on Saturday and then left the march to return the coffin to his truck. That's when a pro-war supporter tried to rip a photo of Carlos' son from the coffin. When Carlos tried to save the photograph, he said a group of pro-war activists attacked him.
"Carlos Arredondo: 'I was assaulted by a group of pro-war people. They come into the ground, and they kicked me and punched me. As a citizen of this country, it’s my duty and my responsibility to participate. As a father, who I lost my son in Iraq, I got to honor my son.'"

Photographic essay

One photograph from the series entitled "Those Who Assaulted Carlos Arredondo"[6][7] by Hilsdon Photography, LLC,[8] shows a group of pro-war supporters (i.e. counterprotesters) gathered around Arrendondo, who is now on the ground. Another photo shows the group surrounding Arrendondo.[9] The stamped name of Eagles Up! is clearly visible on the shirt sleeve of the man holding the flag. Another photo shows another participant who was part of the group now wearing a red baseball cap, with Gathering of Eagles printed on the front of his t-shirt.[10]

The Washington Post reported September 13, 2007, that "Two counterprotest groups, the Gathering of Eagles, made up of Vietnam veterans, and the D.C. chapter of the conservative group Free Republic," had permits for the event.[11]

Also representing the pro-war contingency were Larry Bailey, Chris Hill, and Col. Harry G. Riley from Gathering of Eagles leadership; Kristinn Taylor, founder of the D.C. Chapter of Free Republic; Pete Hegseth, executive director of Republican front group Vets for Freedom; Bradley A. Blakeman, co-founder and co-funder of the White House front group Freedom's Watch; Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward; and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin.[12] who included a photo of Carlos Arredondo with his flag-draped mock coffin in her "photoblogging"[13] for September 15, 2007.

The attackers

Two photographs from the day of the attack on September 15, 2007, show Chris Hill, the man in the beret, as one of those who attacked Carlos Arredondo. Hill can be seen in a third photograph standing next to President George W. Bush during a September 18, 2007, pro-war rally[14]in Washington, D.C.[15]

Right-wing version of events

Mark Hemingway, writing in the September 17, 2007, National Review Online, reported this version:[16]

"For blocks along the parade route, the antiwar marchers find themselves confronted by large numbers of counterprotesters organized by a veterans group called Gathering of Eagles. A few of them followed the marchers all the way up to Capitol and are standing around chatting idly, observing the scene. One gets a phone call — there’s been a fight down near the reflecting pool and everybody’s off running down the hill.
"By the time they arrive, there’s scrum of police and witnesses. The cops have zeroed in on the two men — Fred Peterson and Carlos Arredondo. It takes a while to unpack everyone’s stories, but here's what's apparently gone down: Arredondo has been participating in antiwar marches across the country, dragging a flag draped coffin on wheels. It has the name of his son Alexander on the back, with a photo of him in his dress blues. Alexander was a 20-year-old Lance Corporal Marine on his second tour when he died in An Najaf. When the Marine Corps casualty assistant officers arrived at Arredondo’s home to tell him his son had been killed, he did not take it well. He doused the Marine’s van with gasoline and tried to set himself on fire. Ever since then, Carlos Arredondo and his wife Melida (Alexander’s stepmother) have been an active part of the antiwar movement. Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant, gained U.S. citizenship two years after the incident, with help from Senator Kennedy, in part because of his notoriety.
"Arredondo was bringing up the rear of the march; almost everybody was already on the Capitol lawn when he came by dragging his casket. Fred Peterson, an ex-Marine, was standing off to the side of the road. Peterson was upset, not just as a participant in the counterprotest offended by the marcher’s politics and their perceived lack of patriotism, but because he felt exploiting the death of a fallen Marine crossed a line. Fred walked out into the street and snatched the picture off of the casket.
"Arredondo didn’t even know what happened until it was pointed out to him by others. By the time Arredondo figured it out, Peterson was walking away. In a rage, Arredondo took off and tackled Peterson from behind at a full run. Arredondo was pulled off Peterson very quickly by a number of Peterson’s fellow veterans and counterprotesters, but not before Peterson was bloodied in the ensuing scuffle.
"The police take statements. Nobody is arrested. Peterson has no idea who was pulling the coffin, only that someone was dishonoring the memory of a fellow marine. Leaders of the Gathering of Eagles speak to antiwar activists and Arredondo in an attempt to smooth things out."


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Noel K. Gallagher, "Parents' pain begets action. Two of the speakers at today's peace rally share a sad reason for their activism: the loss of a son," Portland Press Herald (Maine), August 25, 2007.
  2. cliburn, "The Boots," Progressive U Blog, August 25, 2007.
  3. Carlos Arrendondo with his son's mock coffin, After Downing Street.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The People Who Assaulted a Gold Star Father on September 15th," After Downing Street, September 19, 2007.
  5. "Pro-War Protesters Assault Father Of Soldier Killed in Iraq," Democracy Now!, September 17, 2007.
  6. "Those Who Assaulted Carlos Arredondo" posted by After Downing Street.
  7. The series of photogaphs are also posted in a large format here at
  8. Hilsdon Photography.
  9. Group of Eagles Up! members, After Downing Street.
  10. Man in red baseball cap and Gathering of Eagles t-shirt, After Downing Street.
  11. Michelle Boorstein and Allison Klein, "Week of Antiwar Events To Start With a 'Die-In'. Protesters Advocate Civil Disobedience," Washington Post, September 13, 2007.
  12. Michelle Malkin, "Liveblogging GOE ,", September 15, 2007.
  13. "Photoblogging Gathering of Eagles 3; Us and Them,", September 15, 2007.
  14. See rally details: "Vets on the Hill" September 17/18, 2007, SourceWatch article.
  15. Hannah Johns, "Bush Meets With and Honors Man Three Days After He Attacked Gold Star Father," After Downing Street (AlterNet Blogs), October 2, 2007; Scoop (New Zealand), October 3, 2007.
  16. Mark Hemmingway, "Wake Me Up When September Ends. Protest time in the capital city," National Review Online, September 17, 2007.

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