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SMC Captain's First-Hand Account of Chaos After Boston Marathon Bombing

Captain Ruben Arredondo, SMC Global Positioning Systems Directorate, crosses the finish line at the Boston Marathon, April 15. (Courtesy photo)

Captain Ruben Arredondo, SMC Global Positioning Systems Directorate, crosses the finish line at the Boston Marathon, April 15. (Courtesy photo)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Editors note: The Boston Marathon bombing occurred a little more than two weeks ago; however,memories are still fresh for the eyewitnesses, one of whom is SMC's own Capt. Ruben Arredondo, a contract specialist with the Global Positioning Systems directorate. He ran in the marathon and finished in 03:41:22.

I had just crossed Stuart Street and Exeter Street, about two blocks away from the scene at the time of detonation. The first blast sounded like thunder that came from the ground. I thought it might have been one of the subway trains that derailed. When I turned around, I didn't see any smoke. I had just gotten off the phone with friends who were waiting for me nearFenway, and was in the process of mapping directions to get to them.

After the first 'boom,' people just looked around then began walking again. Within moments, the second bomb exploded, and it was instantly chaotic. People began running in different directions; some were screaming; some were crying; and some just stood frozen and in shock. I immediately thought of my friends who had been near mile 25 of the marathon and cheered me on when I passed. In the madness I wanted to find them and get to safety. At that time I didn't know exactly what happened, but I soon realized as I crossed Harcourt Street and saw a man coming from the direction of Boylston Street and waving everyone away (and saying,) "Don't go down there! There are limbs in the street!"

I didn't know if more blasts were coming. As people ran in the streets amidst police and ambulance sirens, my immediate thought was to get to safety. Though I was drained from the marathon, I continued to jog another mile to where my friends were. Even if I had wanted to reach the finish line, I didn't think I could have because there were so many people running in the opposite direction at that time. The fear and shock in people's eyes as they ran passed me, and the sight of hundreds of people scattering everywhere chaotically in the streets would register in my mind for a long, long time.

Moments before the blast I had spoken to my girlfriend who was waiting for me near Fenway. When the bombs went off, I desperately needed to make sure she was safe, since I was the reason she was there. So I headed off into that direction.

In the following days after the tragedy, I have read and heard about people who went out of their way to assist. That is an incredibly amazing statement to the American heroism and selflessness in the midst of a tragedy.