Tribute to Eddy Couch at Senoia’s Memorial Day Observances

Thanks to efforts by the Senoia Area Historical Society, the late Sgt. Robert Edward (“Eddy”) Couch will be remembered by the City of Senoia in its annual Memorial Day activities on May 30, 2011. 

An American flag, courtesy of the American Legion Post 50 in Peachtree City, will be flown over the City.  At approximately 3:45 PM, after the U.S. Army Band plays, representatives from the Senoia Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will direct the crowd’s attention to the Retreat and Folding ceremony that will be held at City Hall.  American Legion representatives from Post 50, led by Post Commander Arnie Geiger, will perform the special ceremony.  The flag will then be presented to the Senoia Area Historical Society where it will be placed in a framed case – also provided by American Legion Post 50 – and added to the Society’s museum display located at 6 Couch Street.  Although no records have been found indicating that the street was named for Eddy or his family, it is still a fitting place for people to reflect on his life and his service to others. 

Ten years ago, in 2001, the City dedicated a bridge in Eddy’s memory, but many agree that the fact that he sacrificed his life for his country as a soldier in Vietnam is more than enough reason to remember him again in a special way this Memorial Day.  The fact is that many people still remember Eddy every day.
Eddy Couch was born in 1949 and experienced the joys of growing up in the quiet town of Senoia.  He was from a loving Christian family who supported him throughout the years.  Along with Eddy, his mother, Elna, his father, Vance, and his older brother, Barry, were all known and loved by many.  When Eddy was a young man, they would all regularly worship together at the Senoia United Methodist Church.  As Eddy grew older, he also developed many close friends. 
In East Coweta High School’s 1967 annual, the “Kowetian”, senior Eddy Couch was described in part as having a “quick wit” and a “quicker smile”.  Other comments stated that he was an “excellent friend . . . our Sir Galahad . . . The Pure in Heart”. 

After graduating from high school, Eddy had a dream of working at Westinghouse; however they weren’t hiring at the time.  After a year of working elsewhere and waiting for something to develop, Eddy turned 19 in July of 1968, and he volunteered for the military.  His best friend from high school, Ray McKnight, went with Eddy to the airport when Eddy was leaving for Vietnam.  Before boarding the flight, the new recruit indicated to his friend that he would never see him again.  Ray felt that Eddy must have had a premonition about how his service would end.  Sometimes it seems like you can just sense things – even when initially they may not make sense to everyone involved.

During his short military career, Eddy became a leader of the 101st Airborne Division, and he rapidly advanced to the rank of sergeant.  He earned numerous medals while in Vietnam, including two presented by the Republic of South Vietnam, the National Defense Medal, a sharpshooter’s badge, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Purple Heart.  Eddy also received the Bronze Star and, for heroism in combat, the Silver Star. 

On December 30, 1968, Sgt. Robert Edward Couch was killed in battle at Thua Thien, South Vietnam as a result of small arms fire during hostile action.  When his funeral was held at the Methodist Church in which he had grown up, it was probably one of the largest attended services there – a true reflection of the many lives that Eddy had touched.  Based on records that were kept at the time, it was reported that Eddy was the only Vietnam casualty who had actually lived in Senoia – especially for his entire life.  That may seem to make him even more special to the people in and around this area of eastern Coweta County, but it didn’t help to soften the loss that was experienced by his passing.

As noted earlier, Eddy Couch was remembered by his home town in 2001 when the city named a new bridge in his memory.  The bridge, located on the north side of town as Main Street reaches out to Rockaway Road which heads to Peachtree City, opened to traffic in 1997.  It replaced an old wooden bridge that children had played under for years as the vehicles would drive overhead and the loose boards would make a loud clikity-clakity noise.  The modern bridge helped to symbolize the strength, determination, and vision of the new / the young.  It was a fitting tribute in 2001 when the City of Senoia named the bridge for Eddy Couch.

At the time of the bridge’s dedication, Eddy’s family still grieved his loss.  Still, they were more prepared in 2001 than they had been in 1968 to celebrate his life and share his memory with others. 

Both of his parents and his brother have since passed on.  But, even without their presence, we can continue the celebration of his life this Memorial Day as the City of Senoia pays homage to Sgt. Robert Edward (“Eddy”) Couch and the others who have served our country so well over the years. 

Eddy Couch, an “excellent friend . . . our Sir Galahad . . . The Pure in Heart”.  We remember you and thank you for the life you lived and the service you provided to your country. 

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