CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Veteran Fighting COVID-19 Returns Home To Hero’s Welcome

Nov 13, 2020, 8:39 PM | Updated: Dec 7, 2022, 12:18 am

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — A Vietnam War veteran received a hero’s welcome, complete with a parade and police escort, when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks.

Friday was the big day.

“They’re on their way, so about 20 minutes,” said Storme Cooper.

People along Lakeview Terrace Road in Saratoga Springs have always been patriotic, but when one of their own was coming home after a long time away, throwing a celebration is what any good neighborhood would do.

“Everybody is going to be here guys. Like, the whole neighborhood,” said Leah Allen. “They love my grandpa.

“I’ve known him for about 40 years,” said another neighbor.

For Storme Cooper, though, she was just happy to see her grandpa again.

“He’s my hero,” she said. “That man has turned our world for us. He does everything he possibly can for his family.”

Craig Eby, 75, served in the Vietnam War and even earned a Purple Heart for one of his missions.

“He’s quite a guy,” said a neighbor who was wearing a Vietnam veteran hat.

However, his homecoming nearly 50 years ago didn’t come with a celebration. So his family figured he should get when he returned from the hospital.

“We’ll have people lining up from all the way to the end of the school and up,” said Storme Cooper.

This time, though, Eby was in the hospital because he was fighting a different kind of war.

“He survived a lot, so we weren’t going to let COVID take him,” said Cooper.

Eby tested positive for COVID-19 in September. While he was in the hospital, he got to the point where doctors weren’t so sure he’d make it.

“They said there’s just not a chance. His lungs were too damaged and they said to plan on going home on hospice,” said Lauren Cooper, one of Eby’s daughters.

Slowly, though, he fought that enemy and started to get better.

Seven weeks later, he was well enough to be released from the hospital, so he could go home.

Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks. Vietnam Veteran Chris Eby received a hero's welcome when he returned home after fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for seven weeks.

His family, friends and neighbors decided to surprise him with American flags lining the street he lived on, people cheering his return with homemade welcome home signs, and an escort with police and firefighters.

“We’ve all been praying for him so hard,” said a neighbor, as she waved two American flags.

It was the parade he never had.

As Eby came home in the middle of that escort with his daughter driving him, he smiled and waved to people.

“Oh, you guys are wonderful. All of you. Thank you,” said Eby to the crowd of people outside his home.

He was wearing a mask, but you could tell he had the kind of grin only survivors of the virus and Vietnam would understand.

Eby was finally home with his family again.

“I’m in my house,” said Eby. “I can’t believe it.”

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Veteran Fighting COVID-19 Returns Home To Hero’s Welcome