When First Sgt. Bernard Madore, 1st Lt. Steve Fiola and Staff Sgt. Mark Welch began walking the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon route on Monday carrying the rucksacks, they could have never envisioned their supplies would have been put to good use. Yet the trio of Guardsmen, who made the arduous journey as part of Tough Ruck 2013, which raises money for the Military Friends Foundation, quickly put their training to use once two bombs turned the finish line into a war zone, USA Today reports.
Madore is no stranger to being in the line of fire. A Somerville, Mass., native, he spent nearly two years deployed to Iraq as part of both Operation New Dawn and Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he is trained to respond in the event of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), when he heard the blasts go off and saw the destruction on Monday, it hit much closer to home than anything he experienced during his time in the battlefield.
"When you're over there, you almost expect it," he told the publication. "I've seen bombs go off. This was by far one of the most horrific scenes."
Madore, Fiola and Welch quickly jumped in to help by removing barriers and getting to victims as fast as possible. They helped put out fires, get other spectators to safety and clear the area while emergency personnel quickly got to work on the severely injured bystanders.
More with military ties
The three Massachusetts Guardsmen were not the only people with military ties to help out amid the chaos. A photo of Carlos Arredondo jumping in to help the wounded immediately after the attacks has become one of the most iconic images of the day's events. Donning a cowboy hat, the Costa Rica-born spectator helped tend to one of the most seriously injured victims and is being labeled a hero by many. His life has been touched with tragedy before – his son was killed by sniper fire in Iraq nearly 10 years ago. In fact, he was on hand to watch a group of runners who were participating to honor soldiers who had died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News reports.
"My first reaction was to run toward the people," he told reporters. "There was so much commotion and a lot of people running away. I was one of the first to help people and God protected me. It was horrific."