ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - For the family of Ardie Copas, Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking couldn’t come soon enough.
“I tell you I’ve been looking forward to this for many years. He was something special. He was one of the most special people on the face of the earth," said Richard Copas, the younger brother of Ardie Copas.
Ardie Copas died in Cambodia in 1970 braving hostile fire. He grew up in Fort Pierce and was awarded the medal of honor posthumously. Richard Copas recently talked with his brothers’ military buddies.
“They all said without your brother, my kids and my grandkids wouldn’t be here," said Richard Copas as he choked back tears.
Governor Rick Scott was on hand as the seventh State Veterans Nursing Home in Florida will be named in Copas’ honor.
Copas was just 19 when he died. His wife was only 17 and his daughter, just 5 months old.
"And my birthday was just two days ago so this is very very overwhelming to me," said Betsy Copas Cintonz.
“People will understand he made a huge sacrifice not just for our whole country but for my mom and I and our whole family," added daughter Shyrell Copas.
There are 280-thousand veterans living in the service area that includes Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and 7 other counties. The 120-bed facility should be complete in the Tradition neighborhood in about 18 months.