Michael's Dispatches

Heart of a Ranger

DSC01998-1000Jill Stephenson, mother of fallen Ranger, Ben Kopp, is unexpectedly reunited with the casualty assistance officer who was with her when Ben died in Washington D.C. two years earlier. The chance encounter came during the 2011 Wreaths Across America Escort to Arlington, while visiting West Point. WAA photo by Joseph Andrew Lee.

25 May 2012

They say old Soldiers never die.  In the case of Corporal Benjamin Kopp, this is turning out to be true in many ways.

Ben was shot and killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.  He was an organ donor, and his sacrifices continued.  His heart was given to a family friend named Judy Meikle, who was 57 years old.  The transplant was successful.  Ben’s mom is Jill Stephenson.  Jill is a strong woman and herself an inspiration.  Yesterday, Jill Stephenson published:

"I want to wish a special Happy Birthday to Judy Meikle today. In case you don't know, Judy is the recipient of my wonderful son Ben Kopp's big strong Ranger heart. Judy received Ben's heart almost three years ago and today celebrates turning 60!! I am blessed to know her and call her a friend. She is breathing proof of what the gift of life means when we think not just of ourselves when we die. Ben lives on her beating heart. Happy, happy day to you, Ms. Judy. Love you~"

And so Ben’s heart beats on, inspiring more people with every passing day.

And his name lives on in the Kopp-Etchells Effect.

But even more than in his heart and name, Ben’s spirit lives on through a powerful example of courage, sacrifice, and generosity.  There is more to the Kopp-Etchells Effect than just helicopters in the night.  The Effect, the Heart of a Ranger, has become a symbol of courage and spirit to be revered. 


+13 # A fitting Memorial for Memorial DayMike Barnett 2012-05-25 12:37
I can't say more than Jill Stephenson did... she spoke volumes about not only who her son was, but who she is, and the way Corporal Kopp was raised and thus lived his life. I salute you all, and wish Judy the best of life.
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+9 # naJohn Mc Garrity 2012-05-25 12:53
Michael: Please contact Mrs. Leah Lauderdale, Polk County Schools re: your induction into the Polk County Schools Hall of Fame on June 8, 2012.Her office # is 863-519-8713. Teresa Griffin is a second contact in the School Board office. John Mc Garrity
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-4 # RE: Heart of a Rangerkaren 2012-05-25 14:38
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+7 # You can be one tooTim 2012-05-25 14:48
We can all follow his example.
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+6 # Wow!Leyla Najma 2012-05-25 23:02
This is so heart warming and beautiful!! There's no words...
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+2 # RE: Heart of a RangerHeath 2012-05-26 19:32
Reading this on Memorial Day weekend, tears are rolling down my face. God Bless both families.
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+1 # Indy 500 Honors Ben KoppScott Dudley 2012-05-28 14:18
During the pre-race program honoring the fallen, Ben Kopp was featured.
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