Mike Yon with the Gurkhas

The Heart of a Ranger - Godspeed Corporal Benjamin Kopp

    "Ben's life was fighting for his country. He died with honor saving lives, but then to add this-- it's icing on the cake." - Maria Burud, Ben's cousin

Cpl Kopp-006

Corporal Benjamin Kopp, USASOC Photo

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high “esprit de corps” of my Ranger Regiment... - FIRST STANZA OF THE RANGER CREED

Corporal Benjamin S. Kopp, was a rifleman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. He was born on Jan. 20, 1988 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Kopp was seriously wounded during a combat operation in southern Afghanistan, July 10. Kopp was medically evacuated through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., where he died as a result of his wounds July 18. His unit had attacked into a Taliban safe haven where they fought a determined enemy from multiple directions for several hours, resulting in the killing of more than 10 Taliban fighters.

Kopp was on his third deployment in support of the War on Terror with two previous deployments to Iraq.

After graduating from Rosemount High School, Kopp enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Rosemont, Minn., July 2006. He completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Indoctrination Program also at Fort Benning.

He graduated from the Ranger Indoctrination Program and was then assigned to Company C, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment June 2007 where he served as a Rifleman.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Indoctrination Program, and the U.S. Army Ranger Course.

His awards and decorations include Army Achievement Medal with two awards, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab. Kopp was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Kopp is survived by his mother Jill Stephenson of Rosemont, Minn., and his father Duane Kopp of Minnetonka, Minn

As a Ranger, Corporal Benjamin S. Kopp distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier light-infantry unit, traveled to all corners of the world in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and fought valiantly to “uphold the prestige, honor, and high ‘esprit de corps’” of the Ranger Regiment.


But that's not the end of the story:

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - Army Ranger Benjamin Kopp died last month after being wounded in Afghanistan, but a part of the Minnesota soldier lives on.

His family agreed to donate his organs, and now a 57-year-old Chicago woman feels privileged to have received the Rosemount soldier's heart.

Judy Meikle says she got a call about Kopp's death two weeks ago from the soldier's cousin, who's her close friend. His heart was a perfect match for Meikle.

She says she now has the heart of an Army Ranger who's a bona fide hero.

Kopp served two tours in Iraq before his tour in Afghanistan as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based in Fort Benning, Ga. He will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 21-year-old died July 18 after being wounded in battle.

Godspeed, Benjamin.

Update: More at This Ain't Hell.