Michael Eugene Koch was born in Omaha, NE., May 12, 1978, and died Feb. 4, 2008 from wounds sustained from small arms fire during combat operations in Iraq. Chief Petty Officer Mike Koch paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He died doing what he loved. Mike was an extraordinarily brave SEAL, honored teammate and great American. He was loved and will be missed by family and friends. Mike graduated from McDonough High School in May of 1996.
Naval Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch attended Penn State University, but left to enlist in the Navy in 1998 and entered SEAL training in 1999. Joining the elite Special Forces was always his goal, said his father, Donald Koch. “That’s why he went into the Navy — to try out for the SEALs,” Koch said. “He was very humble and quiet but fabulous at what he did.”
His family is close. His father, a 20-year Air Force veteran, camped out in the woods while Koch was going through his SEAL training in 1999, trying to put himself through some of the same experiences his son was enduring. Koch served in Kosovo and Afghanistan, winning the Bronze Star among other honors. Family outings might include skydiving, snowmobiling or scuba diving.
One Christmas, he told his younger brother, Matthew, and younger sister, Tiffany, to peek in the garage. They each had a new motorcycle.
Growing up, he learned to scuba dive, climb mountains and scale cliffs. During visits to his grandparents’ farm near Jersey Shore, he practiced rappelling by descending the silo. “Always so full of life, so fun to be around, even with older people,” his grandmother, Delores Koch, said. “He was just such a good kid, always. It’s such a great loss for us.”
“He always talked about the Navy SEALs,” she said. “He was so thankful he could be there. He loved his work.” She recalled some of her last words to him over the holidays. “Be careful,” she said. He had a ready reply. “I'm always careful, Gram. I'll be OK.”