James Robert Copeland lives today in celebration of our country's enduring freedom. JR' (as he likes to be called), enlisted in the Army the day after Pearl Harbor and he was mad as hell. Typically, when your 20 years old and the son of a coal mining family from West Virginia, a meaningful life doesn't present itself on a silver platter. JR' is not typical in any regard. With his eighth grade education he was singled out to lead men under his command to safety along the berms of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, D-Day, June 6, 1944. Shot in each leg he led his men across a German minefield, without losing a man.
It was a horrific day -- but Ranger Copeland had a mission.
JR' Copeland, Staff Sergeant, 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion had a duty to his country. He did it with pride and performance and plenty of gusto. How JR' became a heroic leader of men is this story; his upbringing, his family, his beliefs, all contributed to what would become a magnanimous human being. JR' Copeland, 89, still celebrates today.