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Severely burned soldier returns home

Posted at: 12/22/2012 6:56 PM
Updated at: 12/22/2012 7:54 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

A local soldier received a big Rochester welcome Saturday afternoon after spending months recovering from an explosion in Afghanistan.

Cody Coopenberg, 21, was overseas when a generator he was refueling exploded. He was burned over 60-percent of his body and has been recovering in San Antonio ever since.

Saturday he arrived at Greater Rochester International Airport, just in time for Christmas.

The last time Coopenberg was home was in March of 2012, but the last time his family saw him he couldn't even move or talk.

Doctors predicted the worst for him. His family tells News10NBC all they wanted for Christmas was for him to come home and on Saturday their wish came true.
 
"He's a strong guy. He has a lot of support from family, friends, everybody around," said Pam Coopenberg, Cody's mother.

Cody Coopenberg's family has been waiting for this day for a very long time.

"It was scary there for a while. We could have very well lost him," said Pam.

The last time they saw Cody was months ago. He was incoherent, bandaged up from head to toe.

Doctors said he wouldn't walk again. Some said he wouldn't make it.

"It's hard seeing your husband nearly die in your arms three times. It's hard to see him struggling day after day to live," said Hannah Coopenberg, Cody's wife.

However, Cody defied all of the odds.

After a difficult struggle, he came home Saturday morning and walked right into the arms of his love.

"It was a little overwhelming to see everyone. I wasn't expecting this big of a crowd," Cody said.

It was a welcome home he says his family will remember forever, because there was a moment when they didn't think he would pull through.

Cody says there is no place like home,

"The little communities around us really do care for their own and it's a good feeling and it's a great feeling being home."

Cody says he's grateful to be home for the holidays and he's grateful to be alive.

His story has inspired people all over the area, teaching everyone to be thankful for every moment.

"You never give up, you never back down, you always push forward," said Cody.

Even though Cody's skin grafts are healing great and his recovery has amazed everyone, he still has a long way to go.

Cody tells News10NBC he will undergo several surgeries throughout the next year, but for now he is focusing on his family. Cody will be spending a lot of quality time with them this Christmas, especially his son who he hasn't seen for almost a year.