Metro recently sat down with Carlos Arredondo, who last year was dubbed the Cowboy Hat Hero after iconic photographs captured him assisting with the rescue of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack.
Do you think that one of your purposes in life was to help save Jeff Bauman?
Arredondo: It’s a miracle the way things happened. So many people did amazing work that day and I did what I could. I prayed to God to protect me and give me some guidance to protect Jeff. It worked out in the end, thank God. it worked out and Jeff finally went through surgery, and not only went through surgery, but he also described one of the criminals who was standing right next to him the day of the bombing. He managed to look that person up and down. [Bauman] helped to bring a case against these criminals. Life works in strange ways. I helped to save his life, and he ended up recognizing the criminals.
Are you planning to attend this year's marathon?
Arredondo: I’m going to be at the finish line this year. I know I’m going to be with other survivors, including [Bauman] and his family. I just hope we’re all there supporting each other so we can have a better day.
Do you have any fears about going?
Arredondo: I am scared. I’m already thinking about it. Just going back, and being with the survivors and waiting for that moment, around three o'clock. Hopefully nobody freaks out and start getting sick about it. But I understand some other survivors can’t handle it, so they’re going to stay away.
What positives do you feel have come from the tragedy of the bombing?
Arredondo: It’s been amazing how people have been participating to help out. They’ve collected funds for survivors and the victims’ families. I think the One Fund really brought a lot of people together and made good things happen. The prosthetics are very expensive, so [the survivors] need all the help they can get. It’s been amazing how Boston has handled all this tragedy.
What do you think when people call you a hero?
Arredondo: It’s a little bit uncomfortable, you know? When people call me a hero, and I just look behind me at all the many people who were there at the time, helping out. So I don’t think I’m… I just don’t think that way. I’m just very grateful for everybody who was there helping out.
What was it like for you to see Jeff for the first time after the bombing?
Arredondo: He was very thankful. Immediately I saw this young man in bed and saw that he was going to be okay and I love the kid. He’s very funny. He’s a great guy. It’s a miracle to see him doing the things he does.
What’s it like for you to suddenly be in the spotlight?
Arredondo: It has changed things, but at the same time I feel a responsibility to do it. We’ve been doing what we can to help, and going to events to collect funds for the survivors, so it’s been an amazing journey. We are very happy and proud to help in any way we can.
You’ve been through so much already in life. The loss of your sons - one during service in Iraq, the other to suicide - then this happening last year. How do you manage to keep such a positive outlook?
Arredondo: Well, with the support of my wife, family and friends and people like you who smile at me and want to hear a little bit about what happened there. For me that’s important because I don’t have to see my shrink so much. I just get it off my chest. The best things I have; my jack russel and a rat terrier. They are my best therapy.
If your sons were here today, what do you think they would say about your actions that day?
Arredondo: I know they would be very proud that I helped others. I’m very proud of them myself. I’m very happy for the opportunity that God gave me to be the father of my boys for the time that I had.