Ben Kopp became an Army Ranger out of respect and admiration for his great grandfather's service to our country in WWII and to vindicate the events of 9/11. He was devastated by the death of his great grandfather only five months prior to 9/11. They had a very close relationship. At the age of thirteen he vowed to serve his country with a determination no one ever questioned.
Ben arrived in Ft. Benning, Georgia only one month after he graduated from high school. His tenacity made him an accomplished Ranger only eight months later. The daily challenges of being an elite Ranger don't come easy, but it very quickly turns boys into men. Ben was no exception. When he came home on leave, people noticed the change in him and it was a good fit.
Ben remained close with his friends in Rosemount, but had also established new friendships with his brothers-in-arms of the the 3/75 Ranger Battalion. He became known for his fearless attitude, crooked grin and his charm with the ladies. Ben had an infectious personality and if you ask his civilian or Ranger buddies, they would all agree he was a best friend to many.
Ben deployed twice to Iraq before going to Afghanistan in May of 2009. On July 10th, during a firefight with the Taliban, he saved six of his fellow Rangers before being shot in the leg. His leg was surgically repaired, but the injury caused trauma his body wasn't able to recover from. He died on July 18th at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Because Ben chose to be an organ donor, his heart still beats in Judy Miekle of Winnetka, Illinois. His liver and kidneys went to a gentleman in the Washington DC area. In addition to the major organs, he also donated bones, skin and tissue. It is estimated that Ben's gifts of organ donation saved or enhanced the lives of 60 people.
Several of his Ranger and civilian friends have had the privilege of putting their hand on Judy's heart to feel Ben marching on.
In life and in death, Corporal Benjamin S. Kopp is a HERO. His selfless spirit lives on in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
Jill Stephenson, Ben's Mom and Judy Meikle, Ben's heart recipient