If you watched the 10 o’clock Channel 8 news last night, you may have recognized a familiar face in the story about the soldier killed in Afghanistan. Sgt. Carlos Benitez was honored by students and teachers at Carrollton’s Long Middle School, where Benitez played football, and by the new principal, Joe Copeland. Copeland, shown in this WFAA video presenting camouflage-clad teddy bears to Benitez’ parents, is in his first year at Long after serving as assistant principal at Lake Highlands High School.

Many remember Copeland as the AP who brought his two adorable daughters to many a Wildcat performance or athletic event – he even let them join him at last year’s senior prom at House of Blues. (I was relieved to know he couldn’t be expecting too many senior shenanigans if he’d let his daughters attend).

At Copeland’s cue, Long students released a thousand white balloons in remembrance of the soldier killed in the line of duty. Benitez leaves behind a wife and two young children. His mother expressed her gratitude. “It was something he really wanted, to be remembered as a hero.”