Col Keith Couch is originally from Hyden, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned a 2nd Lt via the Platoon Leaders Class program. Upon graduation Col Couch returned to Hyden, Ky, and while there he taught and was a full-time assistant high school football coach. He remained there until he received orders to The Basic School class "Charlie Company 1994." Following TBS, Col Couch reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, to begin primary flight training in September 1994. Upon completion of advanced flight training in December 1996, Col Couch was designated a Naval Aviator in January 1997 and assigned to MCAS Cherry Point to fly the AV-8B Harrier. Col Couch completed preliminary AV-8B training in October 1998 and was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 223 (VMA-223), "The Great American Bulldogs."
Shortly after checking into VMA-223, Col Couch was assigned to the operations department and was slated to deploy with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in fall 1999. While deployed with the 22nd MEU, Col. Couch participated in numerous training as well as operational exercises to include Operation Bright Star (Egypt), Operation Infinite Moonlight (Jordan), Operation Noble Shirley (Israel) and Operation Joint Forge in support of Kosovo operations in the Adriatic Sea. The 22nd MEU returned home in spring 2000. Col Couch remained with VMA-223 and held positions as airframes officer in charge, quality assurance officer and maintenance officer until he received orders in October 2001, at which time he would report to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines (3/2), in Camp Lejeune, N.C to serve as a forward air controller. While attached to 3/2 the unit deployed to Okinawa, Japan, as part of the Unit Deployment Program and participated in Combined Arms Exercise 10-02. Col Couch finished his tour with 3/2 in October 2002 and received orders back to Marine Aircraft Group 14, MCAS Cherry Point.
In November 2002, Col Couch reported to VMA-223 as the squadron began preparations for potential combat operations in Iraq and he was designated the squadron's Aircraft Maintenance Officer. Throughout this time Col Couch flew combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Southern Watch and Southern Force. Upon VMA-223’s return, in July 2003, Col Couch began working in the operations department as the pilot training officer while preparing to attend the Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course 04-01 in September 2003. Following completion of WTI, Col Couch served in the operations department until he transferred to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 (MWHS-2) in July 2004, where he was hand-picked to serve as the Squadron Executive Officer (XO) in preparations for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. While serving as XO, Col, Couch was designated as acting Commanding Officer both in garrison and while forward deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, as the squadron conducted split-site operations, in support of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, during its yearlong deployment to Iraq, beginning in February 2005. While deployed Col Couch augmented VMA-223 and once again flew combat mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Col Couch completed his tour with MWHS-2 in June 2006 and received orders to report to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) for duty in the current operations directorate.
While at CENTCOM, Col Couch worked in the Horn of Africa/Maritime Branch and participated in numerous relief operations in the Horn of Africa, while also serving as the sole Marine aviation liaison to the CENTCOM current operations staff for MEU operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. Col Couch served in the J3 until July 2008, at which time he was then selected to serve as aide-de-camp to Gen John Allen, the CENTCOM deputy commander. Col Couch served as aide-de-camp until July 2009, at which point he received orders to attend Joint Combined Warfighting School (JPME Phase II) at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. Col Couch completed JPME II on Aug. 31, 2009, and subsequently departed CENTCOM on Sept. 7, 2009, en route to MCAS Cherry Point for AV-8B refresher training prior to reporting to MCAS Yuma, Az for duty.
Col Couch reported to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in November 2009 to serve as officer in charge of the Marine Aviation Training Systems Site (MATSS) aboard MCAS Yuma. While there, he was charged with ensuring AV-8B training standardization and evaluation, provided a medium to voice fleet training issues, managed aviation training facilities and devices, enabled networked training operations, synergized aviation training operations and brought MATSS Yuma to an initial operating status. Col Couch finished his tour at MATSS on May 31, 2010, and took command of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Yuma, on June 10, 2010. He would relinquish command on June 25th 2012.
Following his Command tour Col Couch received orders to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve in the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps Strategic Initiatives Group as a strategic analyst and writer. He would continue to serve in this capacity until departing for duty as a CMC fellow to Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s National Security Fellowship program, graduating in July 2015. Prior to taking Command of HQSVCBN, HQMC Henderson Hall Colonel Couch served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans, G-5, at III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Col Couch has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Science in Management with a certificate in Project Management from Boston University, and is a graduate of the National Security Fellowship program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Additionally, he is a graduate of Joint Combined Warfighting School (Phase II) and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College seminar program while also completing an Executive Course in Cyber Security during his time at Harvard. Col Couch’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award, Air Medal Individual Action with Combat V, Air Medal with three Strike/Flight Awards, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and numerous unit awards.