In Winnetka, Illinois, a 57 year-old-woman named Judy Meikle is alive and recovering because of Ben Kopp an Army Ranger from Minnesota.
In any other world, the two might never have met, and they never really met in this world either, but they are closer than any two people could ever be. You see, Meikle has Kopp’s heart in her chest. And that heart is beating as strongly as it did for that young man when he was shot in Afghanistan, while saving the lives of six of his fellow soldiers in a firefight with the Taliban.
His obituary ran in the Pioneer Press, July 26. It reads in part:
“Kopp, Cpl. Benjamin Stephen 75th Ranger Regiment Of Rosemount
Corporal Benjamin Stephen Kopp of Rosemount died July 18 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. from wounds suffered on July 10 in Afghanistan. Ben had a deep love of country and was proud to serve and defend the freedoms of our beautiful America. Ben was a true friend to all who knew him and honored his compassion for people by being an organ donor. He had a great sense of humor, an infectious smile and loved life. He was a shining example of patriotism and selflessness and will be sorely missed. His proud and giving spirit will live on in all who knew him and in those who have received his organs…. He distinguished himself with the 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. Posthumously, Ben has been awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, The Meritorious Service Medal and a Purple Heart.”
A memorial service was held for Kopp at Rosemount High School Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009. At that memorial, Army Specialist Ryan Lundeby who was with Kopp the day he died, said this “He was the best friend I could ever know. When Ben was first injured, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know what to say. He gave his life to save others.”
Meikel was diagnosed with a heart condition she never knew about a few months ago. It was just a strange twist of fate that a cousin of one of her close friends, Kopp, gave his life and was listed as an organ donor. Ben’s heart was a match. That donation was repeated many other times. Seventy-five other people received organs and tissue from Kopp.
Kopp served several tours in the Mideast and became a Ranger. He was sent to Afghanistan in May.
Meikle and Jill Stephenson, Kopp’s mother met for the first time at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, Wednesday. According to news reports there, the two say the meeting is the first of many more to come.
Ben’s funeral was held Saturday and he will rest forever in Arlington National Cemetary. But everyone knows “Rangers lead the Way,” and his heart will beat on - proving that even in death, true heroes still live – and still make a difference.
If you would like to make a difference for our troops, see the link to Lt. Cnossen above, or contact your Congressmen about Sgt. Michael Fershke’s wife and son, who so far have not been given citizenship so that they may live and grow old in Fershke’s hometown – that young Marine’s only dying wish.
For more on Fershke's story see these links:
You may also send the letter I composed at right - and sign the petition at the following location: