Medal of Honor nominee Ardie R. Copas was from Fort Pierce, Fla.
He joined the U.S. Army, June 18, 1969.
Then-Spc. 4 Ardie R. Copas distinguished himself on May 12, 1970, while serving as a machine-gunner near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia. When his convoy was ambushed, Copas repelled the enemy under heavy fire, holding his post while his wounded comrades were evacuated. Copas was killed in action.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Copas received the Distinguished Service Cross (this award will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Mar. 18), Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge with Auto Rifle Bar, Republic of Vietnam Military Merit Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” Device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit Citation, First Class.
Citation for Distinguished Service Cross
For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the republic of Vietnam: Spc.4 Ardie R. Copas distinguished himself while serving as a machine-gunner aboard an armored personnel carrier during operations near Ph Romeas Hek, Cambodia.
In the early morning hours of May 12, 1970, Copas’ company was suddenly attacked by a large hostile force firing recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and automatic weapons. After Copas began returning fire, his armored car was struck by an enemy recoilless round, knocking him to the ground and injuring four American Soldiers beside the vehicle. Ignoring his own wounds, Copas 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, 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. Copas’ 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.
Medal of Honor
Copas is set to receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House on March 18.