Rochester, N.Y. – It's been six months since a soldier from Holley was severely burned in Afghanistan after a generator he was fueling blew up.
Cody Coopenberg, 22, did something Saturday doctors at one point didn't know if he'd ever be able to do.
He came home.
Home to his 2-year-old son; his new wife, who he married in March; his family, friends, and a community grateful to have this hero home.
“We came home in August; he was still in the hospital,” said Pam Coopenberg, Cody’s mother. “He was all wrapped up, it was still iffy.”
“Very excited, very relieved,” said Cody’s wife, Hannah Coopenberg, when asked how she felt about her husband’s homecoming. “It was very hard at first. I didn't know if my husband was going to make it.”
But he did make it. Cody walked out of the terminal at the Greater Rochester International Airport into the arms of his wife and to his son.
“It was very important (to get home),” said Cody, “particularly being home with my boy, for the simple reason I haven't seen him since March. I've missed him so much.”
To get home with his son, Landon, Cody entered a battle he never planned to fight.
“Everything's gone great as far as the recovery process goes,” said Cody. “Like I said, I have a few more surgeries to go, but that's expected. Everything else is doing OK.”
“They were telling us he was going to be in the hospital for a year and a half or so,” said Hannah, “and the doctors looked at me and said we don't even know how he made it through this. But he did, and that's what counts.”
And when you ask Cody how he made it, it's obvious -- he just had to.
“Me being who I am, I grew up, you never give up, you never back down, you always push forward,” said Cody. “That's the same values that the Army instills in us and pushes us to do.
“It really wasn't nothing new, it's just who I was.”
The soldier, known for his cowboy hat, walked down the concourse thanking everyone who came to welcome him home, including the Holley volunteer firefighters, who he served with before being deployed.
“Seeing the turnout, I realized that the little communities around us really do care for their own,” said Cody. “It's a good feeling, and it's a great feeling being home.”
Cody will be home for two weeks before returning to Texas.