Rosemount man honored before Indianapolis 500
Ben Kopp’s mother gave tribute to her son who died while serving in Afghanistan; memorial ride planned in Apple Valley
Prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, Cpl. Benjamin S. Kopp of Rosemount was honored by his mother during a video tribute (below) that was shown to the crowd and the worldwide audience watching the event on television.
“I just miss his company every day … every day,” Jill Stephenson said during the video that showed footage of her at Arlington National Cemetery. “He was proud of his uniform, proud of his service, proud of his country, and I’m proud of him and all of the fallen heroes we remember this Memorial Day.”
Kopp graduated from Rosemount High School in 2006, enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a Ranger.
He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., and served two tours in Iraq.
Kopp was serving his first tour in Afghanistan when he was shot on July 10 in Helmand Province after he had saved six of his fellow Rangers.
He died July 18, 2009, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was 21.
“He wanted to be put in harm’s way to protect our freedom,” Stephenson said in the video.
As an organ donor, Kopp’s heart was transplanted during a successful surgery for Judy Miekle of Winnetka, Ill.
His liver and kidneys went to a man in the Washington, D.C., area. In addition to the major organs, he also donated bones, skin and tissue. It is estimated that Kopp saved or enhanced the lives of 60 people.
To honor Kopp’s memory, the Ben Kopp Memorial Bike Run is being organized from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 14 with its start and ending point at Post 1776 American Legion, 14521 Granada Ave., Apple Valley. Registration for the motorcycle ride begins at 9 a.m. and leaves at 11 a.m.
Funds raised by the nonprofit Post 1776 American Legion Riders will be donated to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Unit at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Hospital. Last year’s event raised $10,000.
At 6 p.m, there will be a silent auction, for which donations of cash, gift cards and merchandise are being sought.
More information can be obtained online at www.benkopp.org/Ben_Kopp_Memorial_Ride.html or by contacting Mark Ceminsky, director of the Post 1776 American Legion Riders, at email@example.com or (612) 819-1334, or Rick Olsen, second vice, Post 1776 American Legion Riders, co-chair of the ride, at Rwolsen777@yahoo.com or (612) 910-3246; or Stephenson, co-chair of the ride, at Iambenkoppsmother@gmail.com or (612) 868-7446.