Jill 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.