Created: 10/23/2013 6:39 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Wednesday was Albuquerque firefighter Vince Cordova’s first day back on the job after a long battle with a life-threatening brain tumor.
The 25 year old Cordova brought his grandmother and grandfather and other members of his big family to meet the guys at Station 14 in Westgate Heights. These are the firefighters who sacrificed their own sick leave – thousands of hours – to keep Cordova on the payroll. After more than 18 months off, with ten surgeries and 61 days in the hospital, Cordova is back and ready for action.
“I’m just so happy,” Cordova said. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my firefighter brothers, the community, and my family for just being there for me, sporting me through everything.”
It isn’t every city employee that gets a greeting from the mayor on his first day back at work, but that’s what happened Wednesday at Station 14. Mayor Richard Berry saluted Cordova’s will to survive and his commitment to serving the community. Cordova’s grandfather, Robert Sandoval, watched proudly as Berry and city councilor Ken Sanchez welcomed Cordova back to work.
“It feels like the end of a long journey,” Sandoval said. “It’s very joyful to arrive. His goal was to come back. He’s done it and I'm very proud of him for what he’s doing and for his positive attitude all the way through.”
“He’s been gone for 18 months so there’s been a huge hole in this department,” said Cordova’s commanding officer, Lt. Greg Aragon. “There’s been a huge hole at this station. He’s my guy, he’s an excited guy.”
“I’m super-excited,” Cordova agreed. “This time last year I didn’t think this day was going to come. But it did and it’s here and I’m happy and excited and ready to serve my community.”
Cordova said he joined the fire department to save lives in the community, but it’s the community that has saved his life. He started with the Albuquerque Fire department four years ago.