J. W. Cortes is a tough operative teamed up with Todd Palin on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes,” but this former marine and current New York City MTA Police Department Officer got a taste of what it’s like to be famous, and it all happened on Monday as he was responding to an emergency call.
“I get a call over my radio [informing me there was a] police officer that needed assistance,” Cortes told Access Hollywood on Tuesday. “Of course, out of the gate, I’m running. You never know what you’re gonna get. We just saw what happened at the Empire State Building. Any call can go either way. So, I’m running, literally, across the street and I see a police officer somewhat struggling.
“There [were] two individuals in his close proximity,” Cortes continued. “The first person is up against the wall and, of course, I jump in and do what we do to kind of control the situation. There’s another person that’s standing right next to him, and the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘I’m a southern marine sir.’ And then all of a sudden he picks up his shirt and he shows me some scars and says, ‘This is where the AK-47 round entered my stomach and this, right here, is where the other one went through my wrist.”
The Good Samaritan standing in front of him was former marine sergeant Tyler Dodd, who told Cortes he is a two-time Purple Heart recipient and had been stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dodd had followed a robbery suspect for three city blocks and restrained him until police, including Cortes, arrived.
“And then he turned around and here’s where it gets crazy. He says, ‘Wait a minute! You’re that guy from ‘Stars Earn Stripes!’ [And I said], ‘Listen, this can’t be about me. Thank you for recognizing me, but this about you. Thank you for your service,’” Cortes recounted of the words the two men exchanged.
Although his fellow officers on the force now jokingly call him “Officer Hollywood,” Cortes is using his newfound fame for good, including hosting a “Stars Earn Stripes” season finale viewing party on Monday for charity.
And on Tuesday morning, Dean Cain told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush for “The Billy Bush” radio show, that he was impressed by Cortes’ heroics.
“J.W. is a fantastic guy, maybe the nicest guy on the planet, but if you’re breaking the law I don’t think he’d be so friendly to you,” Cain said.
“I’m glad it was the Good Samaritan who recognized him,” he added. “Can you imagine if it was the perp? The bad guy’s like, ‘Hey hold on, hold on. I like your show, I really like you. Can you let me go?’”
The season finale of “Stars Earn Stripes” airs Monday at 8 PM on NBC.