This Gallery is dedicated to Army First Sergent BrianK. Coutch who did not die on the battlefield, but he gave his life for his country just the same. Born August 31, 1966, one of twin boys, he died of natural causes in his home on March 26, 2014. Of his 47 years, 22 were spent in the Army, where he served five combat tours, three in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. In addition to many front-line firefights, he served as an engineer specializing in improvised explosive devices.
Among his honors were the Bronze Star Medal; two Meritorious Service Medals; 8 Army Commendation Medals; 7 Army Achievement Medals; a Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Army Superior Unit Award; 7 Army Good Conduct Medals; 2 National Defense Service Medals; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals; Southwest Asia Service Medal Service Medal with Bronze Service Star; the Korean Service Medal; Air Assault Badge and Drill Sergeant Badge and many other recognitions.
He retired as a First Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 2006, but he continued to work on behalf of his fellow soldiers as an advocate with the Wounded Warrior Project and the PA Hero Walk. He participated in the yearly walk from Philadelphia to Lower Burrell every year since it began to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. He was also an active member of VFW Post 92 and the Lower Burrell American Legion Post 868.
Proximity to many explosions left him with traumatic brain injury, and his hand was wounded by gunfire in battle. Despite facing some of the fiercest fighting imaginable, he remained a gentle soul at his core. As a result of his service, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which triggered anxiety, high blood pressure, and nightmares.
He was provided a service dog, a Labrador named Slate, through Susquehanna Service Dogs to assist him with his physical limitations and wake him when he suffered nightmares or bouts of anxiety. Slate was covered by the Wounded Warrior Project and a local veteran’s organization.
Slate and Brian were inseparable friends. Although Brian tended not talk about his war experiences, he was a tireless advocate for the benefits of service dogs. When he passed away unexpectedly, Slate was by his side to comfort him.