Weather Alerts 5 View »

Collier County first responders surprise Army soldier for Christmas


Video by

Collier County first responders surprise Army soldier for Christmas

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Dec 25, 2013

NAPLES, Fla. - Army soldier Cody Chasteen thought today was a normal Christmas Day.

But then he heard sirens blaring in front of his home.

"I didn't know what was going on," Chasteen said. "I thought there was something going on in the community, something bad."

When the 20-year-old got outside, he was greeted by the Big Corkscrew Island Fire Department and the Collier County Sheriff's Office. They took turns thanking Chasteen for his service and brought him Christmas presents.

"It was a nice experience. It was nice to show we are still appreciated everywhere we are and how everyone is just grateful that we are home and what we do," Chasteen said.

Chasteen just returned from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. While he was there, a truck he was driving rolled over an I.E.D. Chasteen was able to get himself and four other soldiers safely out of the explosion.

Chasteen only suffered a broken arm. His mom, Kimberly Cortez, calls it a Christmas miracle.

"In 20 years it's the most special one we've had," Cortez said. "To know that he's here and I can put my arms around him."

The Christmas surprise sprang into action about two weeks ago, when the Big Island Corkscrew Fire Department saw a welcome home sign in Chasteen's yard.

"To hear this 20 year old who is so humbling to have gone what he's gone through and did what he did, I am just in awe of it," Barry Liebowitz, Public Outreach Coordinator for the Big Island Corkscrew Fire Department, said.

Chasteen says he doesn't call himself a hero. 

"The sheriff and fire and police, what they do, they do more heroic stuff than us everyday," Chasten said.

But his mom feels differently.

"He's my hero every day of the week, every hour, every minute every second," Cortez said.

Chasteen returns to active duty at Fort Stewart in January.