Captain Dick Couch: Biography


My co-author, Captain Dick Couch, is one of the most respected and recognizable names in the Naval Special Warfare Community (and for that matter, the entire U.S. Special Operations Community).  Since publication of his first novel, SEAL Team One in 1991 he has written with passion and authority regarding special operations in both novels and most recently in compelling non-fiction.

Arguably his most well-known book is his 2003 The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228, which has garnered high praise from numerous reviewers, with comments such as: “An impressively researched look into the heart of a culture few Americans, including many military enthusiasts, truly grasp, and “His insider’s view draws the reader in and makes the book a fast and enjoyable read.”  Since then he has embarked on a number of non-fiction writing projects that have chronicled other components of the entire U.S. Special Operations Community.

Most recently, he has provided an insider’s-look at the association between the Navy SEAL community and the United States Naval Academy. See the accompanying PDF for this compelling story.

SEAL Captain Dick Couch


Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor — What readers had to say

Act of Valor

What does it take for a book to capture the public’s imagination?  I takes, of course, a good (really, a compelling) high concept story, it takes an interesting and believable plot, and it takes characters – good and bad – whom the reader sees as real people – not stick-figure caricatures.  Based on the compelling weight of evidence in reviews and especially in reader’s comments (more on that in a moment) Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor met that mark.

But realistically, that will help a book do well, but not spectacularly well.  For that, there needs to be something special, and in this case it was the Bandito Brothers/ Relativity Media movie Act of Valor, that has been on the movie box office hits list for a full six weeks and which has grossed over $62M in only its first four weeks after release, smashing pundits’ predictions about how well this unique movie would do.

Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has been published for three months and spent most of the first quarter of this year on the New York Times mass market paperback best-seller list.  While most novelizations are “carried” by the movie, i.e. once a movie is a hit people also become interested in the novelization, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor broke out on New York Times mass market paperback best-seller list the week it was released (six weeks prior to the movie’s release) and remained there for eight weeks, rising as high as #4 on the list (as well as #4 on the Publisher’s Weekly best-seller list).  The book is still selling well, its end-of-quarter statistics show 440,000 copies in print and the book is already into its fifth printing.

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A Look Back at Act of Valor’s Success

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Now that Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has been published for almost three months and the movie Act of Valor has been on the movie box office hits list for a full six weeks (debuting at #1 in its first week of release on February 28), its fair to ask: What just happened?…as well as…Why did it happen?  Deconstructing events over the past several months in regards to the book and the movie may reveal less about these two artistic pursuits and more about a subtle shift in American core values.

Stepping back a few paces, it is worth considering what a long shot this book and movie represented.  As reported previously on this blog, Act of Valor began as a documentary and only morphed into a feature fill somewhere along the way during the two years that Bandito Brothers film crews chronicled SEAL training at numerous training sites across America.  Worse, from a box office point of view, there are no big names, no bankable stars in the movie.  The stars are active duty Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, or SWCCs.  It was a major gamble for Relativity Media, but it paid off handsomely.

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Act of Valor: A Great Review by an American College Student

Leave No Man Behind

While some did not expect the movie Act of Valor to do as well at the box office as it ultimately did (over $56M over the first three weeks), it was primarily because not everyone expected a movie so clearly focused on values such as honor, courage, commitment and dedication to family and teammates would strike such a responsive chord.

And not many expected that our novelization of this movie, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor, would spend the better part of three months on the New York Times best-seller list, and that the book’s publisher, Penguin, would sell out of its original 400,000 copies printed and go into a major second printing less than two months after the book’s release.

But like most things in life, once some “water passes under the keel,” some retrospective and reflective looks come to the fore that provide a more finely-nuanced look at what this movie is all about.  What follows below appeared in a review of the movie by a student at a prestigious American college.  While I may not agree with everything he says, his thoughts are worth reading.  Here’s what he said about “Act of Valor

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Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor Celebrates 8th Week on New York Times Best Sellers List

Armed and ready

Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor is enjoying its eighth week on the New York Times mass market paperback best seller list.  Unprecedented for a movie novelization, during it’s time on the list it has ranked ahead of books by perennial best-selling novelists such as Iris Johansen, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts, Sherryl Woods, and Stephanie Laurens.  Perhaps most notably, when it rose to #4 on the list, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor was ranked ahead of three books by George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Feast for Crows.

Reader comments on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere in the blogsphere increasingly tie the book closely to the record-setting movie, Act of Valor, noting that Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor fully develops the SEAL, their family members and other characters, something the movie can’t begin to do in 100 action-packed minutes that are decidedly focused on kinetics and not on a story line.  That said, by grossing over $56M in its first three weeks in theaters, Act of Valor blew the doors off “standard” Hollywood expectations.

Defense Media Network Takes Us “Inside” Act of Valor

Search and rescue training

The buzz about the movie, Act of Valor, as well as about Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has caused the unique story of these two companion works to be picked up on numerous websites and blogs.  I’m delighted that you all have been following the story here, now I’d like to take you to a website that offers an even more entertaining deep-dive into the story-within-the-story of both the book and the movie.

Just due to the nature of my day job and my professional interests, I spend a great deal of time navigating military and defense industry websites.  One of the best – hands down – is the website Faircount Media Group maintains with real time information about important and interesting matters of interest to anyone who follows what our military is doing or what the defense industry is doing.

Faircount Media Group has picked up the story of Act of Valor, as well as about Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor Defense Media Network Website at:  They have shaped the story much as I have related it to you in these recent blog posts, but have also included additional links that bring the story to life in a lively and entertaining way.  Enjoy!

About Act of Valor Part 3 – About the Novelization

US Soldier Deployed

Like many movies, there is a novelization attached to Act of Valor.  The book, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor, a Penguin Premium Paperback, by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi was published in January (Penguin printed 400,000 copies, unusually high for a novelization, but anticipating that Act of Valor would “open big when it was released), six weeks before Act of Valor was released.  Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has enjoyed several months on both the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly mass market paperback best-seller lists, rising as high as #4 on both lists and moving into its second printing only six weeks after its initial publication date.  How the novelization came to pass is a unique story unto itself.

In April of 2011, co-author Dick Couch and I were invited by the principals at the Bandito Brothers film company to visit them at their Culver City studio and see a screening of their new film.  After the screening, we were sitting with one of the directors, Mike “Mouse” McCoy, composing ourselves after the event.  “Composing ourselves” isn’t an overstatement or hyperbole.  Act of Valor is an emotional film and a moving one, and we were, at once, completely riveted and blown away by what we had seen.

We talked with Mouse McCoy and Bandito Brothers COO, Max Leitman, about our impressions of the film and talked about some other initiatives related to the film, as well as about some of Bandito Brothers other projects (the day we visited they were in the middle of filming a commercial for the new BMW X6).  There was a slight lull in the conversation and I turned to Mouse McCoy and asked, “So, who’s writing the book?”

“The book?” he replied.  “No one.  We’ve been so busy making the movie we hadn’t had time to think about that.”

“Well, would you consider having Dick and I do that?” I said.  And with that, the novelization of Act of Valor was underway.

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About Act of Valor Part 2 – Behind the Scenes

US Navy Speed Boat

Now for a truly behind-the-scenes look at Act of Valor. We think this “story within the story” about how Act of Valor came to be made in the first place will resonate with you. It is a story that is as intriguing as the movie and novelization.

Like many things that still impact us today, it started on September 11, 2001, a day that is riveted into the consciousness all Americans. That day caused a national catharsis and forced civilian and military leaders within the Department of Defense to begin to rethink how to deal with threats to the Nation in the twenty-first century.

As this re-evaluation began to take shape, one thing became immediately apparent, the U.S. Special Operations Command – or SOCOM – would have a vastly more prominent role in dealing with emerging threats to the United States. As explained by Rear Admiral Denny Moynihan, the Navy’s Chief of Information, in a February 19, 2012 article in the New York Times:

Every four years the Defense Department looks at itself and says, “What is it that you need to be moving forward and where do you think you are?” For the Navy and the SEAL community it was, “Hey, you need 500 more SEALs,” and that launched a series of initiatives to try to attract more people. This film was one of those initiatives.

For the U.S. Navy SEALs, knowing they would have to have 500 more enlisted SEALs serving in SEAL teams within five years presented a unique challenge. But as all SEALs know, you cannot create SEALs overnight. The U.S. Navy SEALs received an incredibly tough challenge. But true to their nature, they didn’t shrink from that assignment. But how tough an assignment was it? That is the challenge that led to movie Act of Valor as well as the subsequent novelization Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor.

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About Act of Valor – Part 1

US Soldiers and Helicopter

Act of Valor, a Bandito Brothers/Relativity Media production, has hit over 3,000 screens these past two weekends, and claimed the number one box office spot (with $24+M) its first weekend ($45+M after ten days). It is not hyperbole to say that Act of Valor is the most unique movie ever made. Those who have seen the movie, and even those who haven’t but have heard the “buzz” know that this is the first movie ever starring active duty U.S. Navy SEALs. There is a great deal about the movie on Act of Valor’s official website at: This post, and two to follow, will take you inside and behind-the-scenes to understand the “story within the story” about how this incredible movie came to be made.

We’ll also share how this first-of-a-kind movie spawned a novelization, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor. More faithful to the movie than most novelizations, the book has enjoyed unprecedented success because it is tied so closely to the movie. And success begets success, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has enjoyed several months on both the New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly mass market paperback best-seller lists, rising as high as #4 on both lists and moving into its second printing only six weeks after its initial publication date.

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