Sgt. Slaughter honors a hero

Sgt. Slaughter honors a hero

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Sgt. Slaughter is best known to the WWE Universe as the order-barking drill sergeant that participated in countless classic matches. But sadly, this weekend the WWE Hall of Famer attended the funeral of a true American hero: his nephew, Army Ranger Cpl. Benjamin Stephen Kopp.

An emotional Sgt. Slaughter recalled his nephew by saying, "Ben always loved the military. As a little boy, he loved G.I. Joe and WWE. I was Ben's hero."

Just outside Washington, D.C. at Arlington National Cemetery, Sgt. Slaughter joined a crowd assembled to mourn the loss of Cpl. Kopp, a gathering that included United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The 21-year-old serviceman, beloved by all who came in contact with him, was participating in his first tour of Afghanistan after two successful excursions in Iraq.

On July 10, Kopp and his unit attacked a Taliban safe haven as part of the United States' continued actions against the fundamentalist organization. For several hours, the servicemen were assailed from multiple directions, and in the process killed more than 10 enemy combatants.

During the operation however, Kopp was seriously wounded, necessitating that he be transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the medical team, Kopp died as a result of his wounds on July 18.

"When Ben succeeded in becoming an Army Ranger everything he did became classified. He was one of the elite. We didn't know where he was or what he was doing. I was worried but I knew he was doing what he wanted to do, what he loved to do; serve his country," said Slaughter.

While Cpl. Kopp's sacrifice in the service of his country would be reason enough to declare him a hero, this young serviceman continued to have an impact even after his death. In accordance with Kopp's wishes to be an organ donor, the heart of this hero was transferred into the body of a family friend, who was suffering from a rare congenital heart disease. In death, the noble warrior not only saved the life of the heart recipient, but also gave his kidney, pancreas and liver so that others might benefit.

"It's a blessing to know my nephew not only gave his life for his country but gave his organs to save more lives. Now, Ben is my hero," said the WWE Hall of Famer.

Though the loss of any serviceman is an occasion for mourning, there is a bright light that comes with Cpl. Kopp's sacrifice. Even after giving of himself in the name of his country, Kopp continued to save and change lives even after his death, an act that should make not only his uncle, Sgt. Slaughter, but all of America proud.

Learn more about Cpl. Kopp at the following sites:

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