My dad, Sgt. Ardie Ray Copas

My awesome dad entered (at his own will, he was NOT drafted) the United States Army June 1969, was placed in Special Forces as a machine gunner (due to his awesome abilities) then sent to Cambodia November 1969. I was born December 16, 1969, only 5 months after my Dad was Killed In Action in Cambodia on May 12, 1970. He was only 19 years old, mom was only 17 and I was 5 months. He never even got to see a picture of me.

However, we know he knew he had a baby girl because he mentioned me (even joking and feeling bad about not even knowing how to spell my name right, imagine that!) in his last letter to mom three times, which is now in a picture frame hanging on my wall (yes, sometimes I take it out and even smell it in hopes of getting to smell what he might have smelled like).  He actually said, "boy i would shour like to see my girl i bet she is preter than any other baby around all florida." Yep, tears poor every single time I read it, my daddy actually wrote and touched that letter! I say to myself. I LOVE that letter, silly I guess to some people...

Yes, I know, terrible spelling, he even says that himself in that last letter. Even though somewhat uneducated (he quit school to help his huge family and to enter the Army) He worked a lot as a mechanic at the Ford/General Motors Company in Ft. Pierce, FL. He was obviously extremely intelligent because he rebuilt engines (I'm definitely not mechanically enclined, lol, so anyone who is seems to be smarter than me!). Even the Army admits to that in his military records and didn't know what to think of this kid with all the crazy things he did!

I say that, due to him earning medals left and right, he was at the top of his class and was an amazing shot, from what people say of course... (So that's where my late and only son, who was also an amazing shot, Royce Ray Corbett, got that from!) Mom even said to me one time with a very small hard gulp and trembling voice, and trust me, she hasn't told me a lot about my dad (until the last 10 years I'd say). I know it hurts too much and I do not press her for it... "If your dad had come home he would probably be running the Army AND the Pentagon by now!" I believe her because he truly wanted to make a difference and help our GREAT and wonderful country, even doing one of the most amazing things in the process! Even in God's eyes, laying his life down for his friends! What an amazing guy, at least I think so anyway.

He's the 1st Congressional Medal of Honor recipient KIA in Cambodia, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in Ft. Pierce, FL and only the 23rd in Florida to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in U. S. history. The reason I say the Army didn't know what to think of this kid is because his Medal of Honor was upgraded twice! We didn't even know this (or I didn't or had not been told) until I finally got to read and see my daddy's military records for the very first time shortly after accepting his medal on his behalf! Yes, that was the very first time I had seen, read, touched, smelled or even BELIEVED all that amazing stuff I had heard my whole life about this kid that's MY DADDY! For THE VERY first time in my life I "GOT" to read, touch, FEEL or SMELL ANYTHING about MY amazing HERO of a dad! WHY? You are probably asking...

He first received a Silver Star for his actions the day he was killed in 1970. Then, nearly 2 years later the Army upgraded his Silver Star to the Distinguished Service Cross. It remained a Distinguished Service Cross for over 40 years until it was upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, in the Valor 24 Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony held in the White House, which actually happens to be my mother, Betsy Copas Cintonz, 61st birthday! Yes, my dad's ONLY wife and ONLY child "GOT" to accept his Congressional Medal of Honor on her birthday. And yes, she said it was the BEST birthday present she could have ever had!

No, President Obama did not even know it was my mom's birthday. When I told him in the Oval Office, he said he would have made sure they made her the biggest birthday cake she ever had if he had known. I guess some things like this probably are not important to some people, BUT, it is to me and probably to you too...

Actually, my dad's medal was ALMOST given to a lady by the name of Patricia Copas Croyle, whom we do not even know to this day. She is supposed to be my dad's niece, my cousin, and was supposed to accept MY dad's Congressional Medal of Honor on HIS behalf. WHY? We do not know. Wow, what another whole crazy story that is and how we "GOT" the blessing of being at the White House ceremony that day! It was truly meant by God above for me and my mom to be there and "GET" to "Just Stand UP" for my dad!

YES, actually, my mom and I almost MISSED getting to go to Washington and the whole Valor 24 Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony! Nope, not one single person from Washington contacted my mom nor me! Thank goodness my cousin, Brenda Ecker King, mom's oldest brother's daughter, contacted my mom to ask her why she hadn't let everyone in Florida know my dad was getting the Congressional Medal of Honor! My mom didn't know what my cousin was talking about. She told mom she saw my dad on the news in Florida and that they were saying he was getting the Congressional Medal of Honor!

My mom is my dad's ONLY wife and was presented his original Medals he was not alive to receive after he was killed. I am my dad's ONLY child. Why, HOW, nobody even considered to contact either one of us? Instead, they contacted someone we do NOT even know and who, to this day, has still not contacted us, as I have asked. I, still to this day, can NOT understand this. Thank goodness I have the daddy and the red-headed determined mother that I have!

When my mom asked me what I was going to do about it and how I was going to "GET" to accept my dad's Medal of Honor and go to the White House, I replied, "I don't know about you but I'm going to contact the White House and EVERY other government office I can!" And, as you can see, I sure did...

Even the men my dad was trying to protect the day he was killed, told me (YES, I have spoken to them) that he was always "protecting" them/everyone getting in front saying, "Get back!, Let me check it out FIRST!" WOW! Can you imagine? Truly an amazing, selfless, honorable service person! Wow, what huge footsteps I have to follow...

Yes, I know he was a machine gunner and they are 1st anyway, but even his family and friends say that he could not stand a bully and was always "protecting" everyone (even getting in the middle of fights to stop them and wind up getting punched himself) especially the person who always needed it the most.

My dad's original medals he received, which my mom accepted in the 1970's and you will find a picture of below, (including his Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Stars, Puple Heart, Bronze Star, Medal for Heroism and many others) were stolen twice and I did NOT even get to see them until I was in my late 30's...  Another amazing story and how we got them back...

There are so many more awesome things I have to tell... We're tyring to write a book, please let me know if you can and want to help! We're also trying to start Ardie's Mission to teach children to "Just Stand UP" for themselves, others, our country, what's right, what's good, honor, respect, patriotism, and much more! Thank you for visiting and please check out the other pages, like, share and let me know if I (and my 9 year old granddaughter) can come speak for your school, business or organization!

 

Click this link for more info at the Medal of Honor Museum:

http://mohmuseum.org/medal_of_honor/copas-ardie-r/

My dad's new marker w/the Medal of Honor on it.