LUBBOCK, Texas — Luis Carlos Montalvan, a decorated Iraq war veteran who became a strong critic of the war and wrote a best-selling book about it, has died in El Paso. He was 43.
Montalvan was found in a hotel room in downtown El Paso late Friday, El Paso police Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said yesterday.
The medical examiner’s office has not completed a preliminary autopsy report.
Montalvan served 17 years in the Army, doing two tours in Iraq. He received two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.
His service dog, Tuesday, was the subject of Montalvan’s book, which became a New York Times best seller.
Some Army colleagues said Montalvan, who retired from the Army as a captain in 2007, embellished his account of the incident that led to his Purple Heart.
Tuesday is now being cared for by a loving family in the Northeast, according to a statement from Montalvan’s family.
“He was an extremely dedicated activist nationwide for multiple causes, including rights and benefits of veterans and the disabled, as well as the promotion of service dogs,” the statement reads. “His spirit lives on through his family and friends, Tuesday, his writings, and all the people he touched during his years of service to his country and his humanitarian work.”
Montalvan’s book, “UNTIL TUESDAY: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him,” was praised by Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, made him a leading advocate for wounded veterans and even led to an interview on David Letterman’s show. But several men who served with him told The Associated Press in 2011 that he had exaggerated or fabricated key events from his service abroad. The AP also obtained documents that contradicted Montalvan’s statements about the extent and severity of his injuries.