On a cloudy day a few weeks ago, Chris Kopack talked of saying goodbye to his sister.
“She’s headed to Afghanistan,” he said of Kimberly Kopack, 24. She joined the U.S. Army about two years ago after she received a college education, said Chris, 16, during a break from his JROTC training. “This will be her first time deploying.”
Chris is in his third year of JROTC at Pottstown High School in Montgomery County, Pa.
“My sisters were both in this program and I come from a long line of military family,” he said. His sister Jessica Kopack, 21, is a student at Temple University who plans to join the U.S. Army.
Chris said JROTC has helped him in several ways.
“Everybody that I’ve seen go through, even myself, it makes us better,” he said. “I was very shy, but now I don’t have a problem.”
Although Chris worries about his sister’s safety in Afghanistan, he appreciates U.S. military troops and their desire to serve their country -- especially as the nation faces the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“I was about 5. I remember seeing it on TV and my parents freaking out," he said of watching the terror attacks.
“(Kimberly) chose to deploy,” Chris said. “She feels like she has to do what she has to do.”
But that didn’t make saying goodbye to her any easier, he said.
“I was really sad when we took her back to her base,” he said and added his sister will work on humanitarian missions overseas. “I couldn’t really get back into the car … We were all crying.”
Chris said he prays his sister will stay safe.
“It makes me scared that she’s even going,” he said.
Yet Chris plans to follow in his sister’s military footsteps and join the U.S. Marines.
“My dad and my grandpa are Marines,” he said and added he’s willing to serve in dangerous areas such as Afghanistan. “I’ll be scared, but just like my sister I’ll do what I’ve got to do.”