Boston Marathon Rescue Story: Carlos Arrendondo, Fla. peace activist, lost a son in Iraq war

(CBS) MIAMI - One of the riveting images from the Boston Marathon bombings is of a former South Florida man named Carlos Arredondo helping the injured during the chaotic aftermath.

CBS Miami reports Arrendondo has his own compelling "back story" --  in 2004, he set himself and a Marine van on fire outside his Hollywood, Fla. home, after learning of his son's death in the Iraq War.

This week, Arrendondo, wearing a cowboy hat, was seen in video clearing away debris after Monday's blasts and then helping a victim with a gruesome leg injury to a nearby ambulance.

Arredondo, now a peace activist, is trained to help.

"I was putting tourniquets on with their own clothes. I'm a member of the Red Cross," he said.

Arredondo, 52, moved from South Florida to the Boston area so that he could be closer to the grave of his son Alexander, a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq.

In 2007, Arredondo was featured in a New York Times article as he traveled with a mobile memorial which showed a large picture of his son Alexander, and a casket in the back of a truck.

His other son, Brian, committed suicide in December 2011.

Arredondo, a Costa Rican immigrant who became a U.S. citizen after Alexander's death, has legally changed his name to Alexander Brian Arredondo in memory of his sons.

Arredondo was at the finish line Monday to support runners involved in a charity raising money for military families and veterans.

In a video on YouTube, he said "This thing happened right in front of us. This is a tragedy we are going to remember forever."