My dad, Sgt. Ardie Ray Copas

Well, it has finally happened! The Ardie R Copas State Veterans Nursing Home Ribbon Cutting Cetemony has been set for August 27, 2021! Only 2 days before my awesome Daddy would have been 71 years old!  Happy birthday to you! I just can't wait to see your handsome face one day!

My awesome Daddy entered voluntary and was NOT drafted, into the United States Army June 1969, was placed in Special Forces as a machine gunner (due to his awesome abilities obviously) then sent to Cambodia November 1969, not even 3 weeks before I was born December 16, 1969. I was only 5 months when my Daddy and his buddies were ambushed by the Viet Cong and my Daddy was KIA (Killed In Action, if you don't know what that means) in Cambodia on May 12, 1970. He was only 19 years old and mom was only 17. He never even got to see a picture of me. We know this because his last letter hangs on my wall. Yes, sometimes I take it out of the frame and smell it, silly to you probably.

However, we know he knew he had a baby girl because he mentioned me three times in his last letter to my Mommy (even joking and feeling bad about not even knowing how to spell my name, imagine that!). In his last letter, the first sentence reads, "How I love you how you doing an how is our little girl. is she grown any...." and he also 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 those words and think about my Daddy thinking about me in that horrible place, that jungle, he was so sick of, he told my Mommy in that letter. When I read and touch that letter, I think to myself, my Daddy actually wrote and touched this letter! 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 and quit school to go to work to help his huge family but then decided to enter into 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 is 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, not only due to some of the comments on his military record but also due to all those Medals he earned left and right, he was at the top of his class and was an amazing shot, from what people say and he obviously showed all of us that the day he died of course... So, that's where my late and only son, who was also an amazing shot, Royce Ray Corbett, got that from! My Mommy even said to me one time with a very small hard gulp and trembling voice before the Congressional Medal of Honor, and trust me, she hasn't told me a lot about my Daddy, she just couldn't (until the last 10 years I'd say). I know it hurts too much and I do not press her for it, who wants to see their Mommy cry... She said to me, "If your dad had got to come home he would probably be running the Army AND the Pentagon by now!" Can you tell my Mommy's a tiny little red-headed Mommy, whom my Daddy truly loved so much? 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! First it was a Silver Star and was upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross (2nd highest Medal awarded in the U. S. Military) then on Mom's birthday, March 18, 2014, I "GOT" to accept his Congressional Medal of Honor on his behalf, at Mommy's insistence! We didn't even know this was happening and all over the news in my home-town of Ft. Pierce, FL. Me nor my Mom had even been notified. I finally got to read and see my Daddy's military records for the very first time shortly after accepting his Congressional Medal of Honor on his behalf! Yes, I was grown, married with children 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, my Daddy! WHY? You are probably asking...

Dad's Distinguished Service Cross remained 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 which is the 2nd largest Congressional Medal of Honor Ceremony held in the White House! The first was held by President Kennedy. Yes, my Daddy's ONLY wife and ONLY child "GOT" to accept his Congressional Medal of Honor on his wife's 61st birthday. That morning before the Ceremony, while getting ready, I asked her if she could believe we had actually made it and that we were going in front of the President of the United States for my Daddy. She said yes and that it was the BEST birthday present she could have ever had and she told me right then again, yep, you don't only look like him but you act just like him too! So, yes, I do believe we're here and it's you too that helped get us here. Thank goodness you're just like him or they would have done this without us and given it to someone else!

No, President Obama did not even know it was Mommy'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, and was to me and maybe to you too... I mean, how many kids do you know that has a story like mine and who "GETS" to tell a story like mine? I take it as part of God's blessing to me, Mommy, my Daddy, and our country, to "GET" to tell such an awesome unique story!

Actually, my Daddy's Congressional Medal of Honor 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 Daddy'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 Congressional Medal of Honor Valor 24 Ceremony that day! It was truly meant by God above for me and my Mommy to be there and "GET" to "Stand UP" for my Daddy! If I/we had done NOTHING, said NOTHING my Daddy's only wife and child would have missed HIS most important day of HIS life, our life, MY life!

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 niece, contacted my mom to ask her why she hadn't let everyone in Florida know my Daddy was getting the Congressional Medal of Honor! My Mommy didn't know what my cousin was talking about and was shocked and hurt all over again! Brenda told mom she saw my Daddy all over the news in Florida and that they were saying he was getting the Congressional Medal of Honor!

My Mommy is my Daddy's ONLY wife and was presented his original Medals that he was not alive to receive after he was killed in Cambodia. I am my Daddy's ONLY child. Why, HOW, nobody even considered to contact either one of us was very hurtful and completely wrong the way my Mommy and I see it. 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 and it is hurtful. However, thank goodness I have the good-crazy Daddy I do and the tiny, little, red-headed, determined Mommy I have!

When my Mommy asked me what I was going to do about it and how I was going to "GET" to accept my Daddy'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... that's another awesome story I "GET" to tell!

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... thanks Dad, no pressure here!

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. Constantly heard these same exact stories about my late son, Royce Ray Corbett, who also died at 19 like his Grandpa!

My Daddy's original medals he received, which my Mommy accepted in the 1970's and you will see pictured 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... One of the pictures below you'll see is the ONLY one of me and my Daddy. It's my Daddy, my Mommy, one of my Mommy's little sisters, Wilma Diane Tyson, and there I am in my Mommy's tummy!

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 "Stand UP" for themselves, others, our country, what's right, what's good, honor, respect, patriotism, and that they too can be a hero/shero and help others every day! Thank you for visiting and please check out the other pages, like, share and let me know if I (and my granddaughter) can come speak for your school, business or organization!


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

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


02.08.2022 14:15

Anthony J Zito

I believe Our Lord Jesus said “There is no greater love then to give ones life for one’s friends “

13.10.2021 20:37

Gary Cronkhite

You are beautiful you’re very very proud of what your daddy did and the fact that he was awarded or I should say earned the Congressional medal of honor. It would’ve been a great honor to meet him.

09.10.2020 19:27

Sean howsare

Sounds like your dad was an amazing/extraordinary man. As seen with the daughter he left behind. Extremely grateful to have read this excellent story, and to have met you. You’re dad would be proud!

07.11.2019 05:18

Pam Wooden

What wonderful man he was, so full of life and bravery, a man I know you are proud to call Dad. Surely there's a place in heaven for him and their is coming a Great Reunion for all that love the Lord

03.10.2019 16:47

Randy M.

Definitely something you can keep close to your heart the rest of days. Truly a great and heartwarming story.

03.02.2019 19:10

Donald Laycock Florida Medal of Honor Memorial

Awesome story of a real American Hero and a Florida Cracker.

15.03.2018 11:43

Roy Brewer, Vietnam Veteran (1965/66 7 1971)

Shyrell and Mom,
Just wanted you both know that the VVA, Michael F. Bradley Chapter 566 of St. Lucie County and the United Veterans of St. Lucie County joins together to support your travel needs! Roy

08.03.2018 01:03



25.09.2016 20:20

Betsy Copas Cintonz

He was a very loving person and I loved him so much. He would of been so proud of our beautiful daughter and thankful you had a dad that raised you to be the person you are today. I love you.........

20.09.2016 22:55

Joy Arnold

He was a very loving person

30.08.2016 08:19

Angela Neal

Shelly I want you know it was nice meeting you at Wal-Mart thank you sharing your story. Your father left a legacy. May God continue bless & watch watch over you and your family from Angela Neal.

22.06.2016 04:08

Schamarian talley

You are a wonderful woman love you

20.04.2016 15:30

Cecilia Bellido

Shyrell, thank you for sharing this page;many Hispanic sometime we ignore or do not tell you more about, the people who sacrificed and sacrificed their live for America.Good Job

07.11.2015 05:59

Michael Morin

This is great. Impressed.

25.10.2015 03:04



15.10.2015 02:58

Stephanie Black

Shyrell, you did a beautiful job on this web site-Your Daddy is very proud of you!

15.10.2015 05:49

Shyrell Copas-Herrera

Thank you so much my sweet cousin! I sure hope he is, that's all I want, is to make him, mom and my family proud! Love you

04.10.2015 14:12

Roger Sperl

Yes we were there. No battle streamers yet for the Cambodian operation. The CMOH is a step towards the political recognition so long denied. 1/5th Inf. Bobcat.

04.10.2015 16:25

Shyrell Copas-Herrera

Yes Roger, I know my friend and I thank you, first, so very much for YOUR service and sacrifice to our country! WE, the Copas family, love you! Second, thank you so much for commenting on our site!