Friday, July 26, 2013

Naval Academy Sailor Receives Purple Heart

Naval Academy Sailor Receives Purple Heart

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexia Riveracorrea, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The commander of Navy Medicine for the National Capital area awarded the Purple Heart to a Naval Academy Sailor during a ceremony at the Naval Health Clinic in Annapolis, Md., July 24.

Rear Adm. Alton Stocks presented the award to Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Michael Couch for wounds sustained in Afghanistan in 2011.

Couch, of Carrollton, Ga., was supporting the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Afghanistan when his convoy was hit by an 80-pound pressure-plated improvised explosive device.

"I don't remember much, but my medical report stated that I experienced a ruptured ear drum and loss of consciousness that lasted six minutes," said Couch. "Our vehicle was destroyed but I managed to keep myself and my Marines alive."

Couch was immediately taken to the hospital for treatment.

"After my three-week therapy I went back out with my battalion and finished my deployment with them," he said.

During the ceremony, Couch recognized the contributions of his family, friends and fellow service members.

"I have tons of support from my family, friends and the Marines I served with," he said. "This award represents the men I was with, and I am honored to wear this medal for them."

As a jospital corpsman, Couch is accustomed to taking care of others rather than the other way around.

"A lot of times I was the only corpsman on site and everyone relied on me," he said. "I had to put all my problems aside and take care of my patients. That's why I became a corpsman."

The experience hasn't dented Couch's desire to serve with the Marines again, hopefully as a doctor, he said.

"I am working on putting together a package for the Seaman to Admiral commissioning program, and I hope I get picked up next year," said Couch. "My ultimate goal is to be a battalion surgeon. I would love to go back with the Marines."

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still awarded. It was originally called the Badge of Military Merit and was established by Gen. George Washington during the American Revolution.

For more news from U.S. Naval Academy, visit www.navy.mil/local/usna/.

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