Ardie Ray Copas
REMEMBEREDby his comrades in the
A fellow Bobcat,
22 Apr 2003
SGT ARDIE RAY COPAS
Ardie Ray Copas (29 August 1950 - 12 May 1970) is a recipient of the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a March 18, 2014 ceremony in the White House. The award comes through the Defense Authorization Act which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.
Dublin resident Richard Copas believes the phone call he got Friday night is the reason he has survived a heart attack, cancer and diabetes. "I tell everybody I'm just here to make sure my brother gets the Medal of Honor," he said. "I think it's the reason the good Lord has let me live."
His brother, Ardie Ray Copas, was killed in Cambodia in 1970 after his Army unit came under attack by a large enemy force. He was among the 24 named who will get the Medal of Honor following a review to determine whether medals may have been denied due to discrimination.
Ardie Copas was among five whites on the list. Richard Copas figured it was because their last name may have drawn the attention of the reviewers. Ardie Copas had previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal to the Medal of Honor.
Richard Copas said their family is from Florida. He became estranged from them after his brother's death, and never knew much about how he died until about five years ago. That's when he met Jim Ross, a Vietnam veteran in Dublin who was awarded the Purple Heart.
When Ross learned Richard Copas wanted to know how his brother died, he began researching it. That's when Richard Copas first learned of the heroic nature of his brother's death. Ross couldn't understand why he wasn't awarded the nation's highest honor, and he began working to see if he could get it for him. It was Ross who called Copas on Friday, February 21, 2014 with the news about the medal. "I just started crying," Copas said. "It's the most exciting thing to happen to me since my kids were born."
According to the official citation, Ardie Copas was a machine gunner on an armored vehicle when his unit was attacked. Despite being injured by enemy fire, he continued to shoot, allowing other injured troops to be safely evacuated. He was 19, and Richard Copas was 16 at the time. "I'm 60 years old and I still cry every time I talk about it," he said. "He was one of the finest people I ever knew in my life."
Ross said he was just surfing the Web on that Friday when he saw the story about the 24 people getting the Medal of Honor, and decided to check the list. "I ran down the hall screaming," Ross said. "I said 'He got it! He got it! He got the Medal of Honor!' '' Ross said he originally took an interest in the case because he thought Copas deserved to know how his brother died.
The only thing Copas could tell him at the time was his brother's name and a vague recollection that he was in a unit called the "5th." It turned out to be the 5th Infantry. "That was the only thing I had to work with and when I got through I said 'My God, this guy's a war hero,' '' Ross said.
Read another 2009 story about how Ross discovered that SGT Copas was a hero and in addition to being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest honor, he was awarded the third highest medal, the Silver Star, the fourth highest medal, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart posthumously and Copas also was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Valor. Read the full story here.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel presents the Medal of Honor Flag to Shyrell Jean Copas, on behalf of her father Specialist 4th Class, Ardie R. Copas, one of 24 Army veterans honored during the Valor 24 Hall of Heroes Induction ceremony, held at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., March 19, 2014. Shyrell was only 6 months old when her 19 year old father was killed. Her mother, Betsy Copas Clintonz of Perry County Tennessee also attended the activities in Washington. The family was living in Fort Pierce Florida when SGT Copas was killed in action.
(U.S. Army photo by Mr. Leroy Council/Released) This work, Valor 24
Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony [Image 20 of 25], by Leroy Council,
identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under
U.S. copyright law.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Washington, DC, March 2014
AWARD OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR
Sergeant Ardie Ray Copas
On xx March 2014, the President of the United States of America, authorized by an Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded posthumously, in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor to
Sergeant Ardie Ray Copas
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Sergeant Ardie Ray Copas distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner aboard an armored personnel carrier during operations near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia. In the early morning hours of 12 May 1970, Specialist Copas's company was suddenly attacked by a large hostile force firing recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and automatic weapons. After the specialist began returning fire, his armored car was struck by an enemy recoilless round, knocking the specialist to the ground and injuring four American soldiers beside the vehicle. Ignoring his own wounds, the specialist quickly remounted the burning vehicle and commenced firing his machine gun at the belligerents. Braving the hostile fire directed at him and the possible detonation of the mortar rounds inside the track, Specialist Copas maintained a heavy volume of suppressive fire on the foe while the wounded Americans were safely evacuated. Undaunted, he continued to place devastating volleys of fire upon the adversary until he was mortally wounded when another enemy round hit his vehicle. His daring action resulted in the safe evacuation of his comrades and prevented injury or death to fellow Americans. Specialist Four Copas's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
By Order of the Secretary of the Army:
General Officer's Name
General, United States Army
Chief of Staff
Administrative Assistant to the
Secretary of the Army
SGT Ardie Ray Copas and his father, 'General' Challey Lee Copas (May 1965)
Sergeant Ardie Ray Copas is buried in Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, Fort Pierce, Florida. He is buried near his father, also a Veteran -- a private in World War II.
SGT Ardie Ray and 'General' Challey Lee Copas' marker,
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