Couch, Dick 1943–

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Couch, Dick 1943–


Born 1943, in MS; married; wife's name Julia. Education: United States Naval Academy, graduated, 1967. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, hiking, fly fishing.


Home—Ketchum, ID. E-mail—[email protected]


Central Intelligence Agency, former Maritime Operations Officer, beginning 1972; lecturer at the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Special Warfare Center, the JFK Special Forces Center and School, the FBI Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Joint Special Operations University, and the Academy Leadership Forum. Military service: Navy SEALS, 1967-72; Naval Reserve until 1997; served in Vietnam; attained rank of captain.



The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228, photographs by Cliff Hollenbeck, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2001.

To Be a U.S. Navy SEAL, photographs by Cliff Hollenbeck, MBI (St. Paul, MN), 2003.

The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident, foreword by Bob Kerrey, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.

Down Range: Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism, foreword by Richard Danzig, Crown (New York, NY), 2005.

Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior, foreword by Robert D. Kaplan, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2007.


Seal Team One, Avon (New York, NY), 1991.

Pressure Point, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.

Silent Descent, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.

Rising Wind, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 1996.

The Mercenary Option, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Covert Action, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2005.


Dick Couch is the author of several nonfiction works and novels, many of which concern the elite U.S. Navy SEALs. Couch writes from personal experience, for he was a platoon leader of a SEAL squad during the Vietnam War and led one of the few successful operations to free American POWs. His first work, the novel Seal Team One, appeared in 1991. This debut novel follows the fortunes of James McConnell, a skeet shooter with dreams of entering the Navy and training as a frogman. Accomplishing this, he is sent to Vietnam as a SEAL unit leader. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly was less than complimentary about this work, calling it "violence-glorifying," as well as "rife with racist and misogynist comments." Couch's second novel, Pressure Point, a thriller set in the Pacific Northwest, was better received. A Publishers Weekly contributor praised this tale of a Palestinian terrorist intent on stealing a Trident missile: "Taut writing and crisp dialogue further enhance the appeal of one of the year's better adventure novels." In Rising Wind, the Navy SEALs are again called in, this time to foil the plans of a Japanese terrorist who threatens to unleash America's horde of chemical weapons on the American mainland. Writing in Booklist, Gilbert Taylor reported that "within the bounds of this all-action-no-message genre, Couch commands comfortably right through the climactic firefight."

Couch turns to nonfiction in other works. With The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228, he was allowed close access to the training of SEALs; he also was able to use his own personal experience as a SEAL to present an "energetic read for sailors, SEALs, and the greater population of armchair SEALs," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. He documents the six-month training such volunteers undergo in the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL program, or BUD/S. Himself a graduate of Class 45, Couch examines the three-part training program, beginning with arduous physical training, a period that ends in what is called Hell Week, with the use of sleep deprivation and long bouts in the water to weed out less likely candidates. Those who survive this first part of training progress to the next phases, where they learn special skills, including demolition and night swimming. The Kirkus Reviews critic noted that the "superior element here is the empathy and texture within [Couch's] character depictions." Similar praise came from Booklist reviewer Roland Green, who felt that Couch's books is "unique" among many other books about the SEALs.

Couch focuses on another branch of elite fighting forces in his 2007 work, Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior. Here he follows the training of an Army Special Forces Class, better known as the Green Berets. Couch tracked a batch of recruits for ten months to construct his narrative, noting that only one in five makes it through the training. As with The Warrior Elite, Couch focuses on many individual recruits as well as their trainers in this "book worthy of the quality of the soldiers it profiles," according to Booklist contributor Green. A Kirkus Reviews critic was less impressed with Chosen Soldier, however, describing it as "macho prose full of praise for would-be warriors and the men who train them, seemingly designed to enthrall young men, boost recruitment and please the army." A higher assessment came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who concluded that "Couch loves the Green Berets too much to look beneath the surface; still, he tells an entertaining story."



Booklist, May 15, 1996, Gilbert Taylor, review of Rising Wind, p. 1568; October 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228, p. 360; March 15, 2007, Roland Green, review of Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior, p. 7.

California Bookwatch, June 2007, review of Chosen Soldier.

Christian Science Monitor, November 8, 2001, review of The Warrior Elite, p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2001, review of The Warrior Elite, p. 1259; December 15, 2006, review of Chosen Soldier, p. 1252.

Library Journal, June 1, 1992, Elsa Pendleton, review of Pressure Point, p. 172.

Military History, June, 2002, Doug Pricer, review of The Warrior Elite, p. 70; June 2007, review of Chosen Soldier, p. 69.

New York Times Book Review, July 26, 1992, Newgate Callendar, review of Pressure Point, p. 13.

Publishers Weekly, May 10, 1991, review of Seal Team One, p. 277; May 11, 1992, review of Pressure Point, p. 53; April 1, 1996, review of Rising Wind, p. 56; January 8, 2007, review of Chosen Soldier, p. 45.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 16, 2003, review of The Warrior Elite, p. 2.

Vietnam, October 2005, Carl O. Schuster, "First Tested in Combat in Vietnam, Navy SEALs Today Undergo Training Based Heavily on the Lessons of Experience," p. 50.

Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2001, David M. Shribman, review of The Warrior Elite, p. 10.

Washington Post Book World, October 16, 2005, Chris Bray, review of Down Range: Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism, p. 9.


Random House Web site, (September 14, 2007), brief biography of Dick Couch.

United States Naval Academy Web site, (September 14, 2007), "Captain Dick Couch, USN Retired."