Local News

Thursday, Sep 27 2012 04:21 PM

Wounded Bakersfield soldier flown to hospital in Germany

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    Samuel Van Kopp

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  2. 2 of 2

    Samuel Van Kopp

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A West Point graduate and Army officer from Bakersfield who was seriously wounded Wednesday in Afghanistan has been transferred to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

Lt. Samuel Van Kopp, 24, was flown from Afghanistan to Germany Wednesday night, where he remains in a coma. He was listed in critical but stable condition, according to a news release from David Reese, the principal of Bakersfield High School, who has been asked to serve as a spokesman for the Van Kopp family.

According to Reese, if Van Kopp remains stable for one or two additional days, he will be flown to Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C., for surgery.

Van Kopp, a 2006 honors graduate of Bakersfield High who went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, was struck in the head by shrapnel when a suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives detonated the device, Samuel's father, Cliff Van Kopp, told The Californian on Wednesday.

"He was leading a dismounted patrol -- he's a platoon leader -- when they came under attack by a suicide bomber," said the elder Van Kopp. The explosion left Samuel with a piece of shrapnel is in his brain.

Described as an excellent and involved student, Samuel graduated 10th in his class with a 4.3 grade point average. He was in Junior ROTC all four years at BHS, and was involved in academic decathlon, forensics, mock trial and was recognized for his efforts with the principal's leadership award.

In a 2006 interview during his senior hear at BHS, Samuel told The Californian he expected to enter the military and was prepared to serve his country.

"I don't really mind going and fighting," he said. "It's just like a regular job for me."

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