COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs community celebrated a very special birthday on Wednesday for a local veteran, and they made sure it was one he'll remember.
Cole Griego, a World War II veteran, turned 96 years young, and it's safe to say he was surprised by the large turnout for a drive-by parade in his neighborhood. Family, friends, law enforcement, firefighters and the JROTC all stopped by to celebrate.
"I'm feeling flabbergasted because somebody is trying to celebrate my birthday," said Griego. "A big thank you to everybody."
Wednesday was not only a day to celebrate the veteran's birthday, but it was also to honor his service in the military.
Griego was drafted into the military at 19 years old in 1943, and served as a corpsman during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
"I remember everything about Iwo Jima, but I can't tell you about it," said Griego. It was a rough deal to work over there, but I made it back in one piece and I'm still celebrating with my friends.
The decorated veteran says he won't forget what happened while serving overseas, but today it was all about surrounding himself with friends and family.
"He suffers from what he experienced more than 75 years ago and to honor somebody that incredible, is just amazing," said Mark Schaefer, a friend.
Griego said he felt like his birthday celebration was a huge win, but one of the bigger wins in his life, was winning the World War II victory medal for his bravery.
"We have a better world because of what he and men like him did," said Schaefer.
Family and friends describe him as kind, with a sense of humor and a heart of gold.
"He is the one of the most content, happiest persons," said Renee Tabet, his daugther.
He's a humble man, but today was all about him, and for that, Griego said he's grateful.
"I am very surprised, I didn't expect this many people," said Griego. "It's the best day I've ever had in my life."