Tom Kovach -- military career
- Jun 1974: While still in high school,
became a cadet in Civil Air Patrol (CAP).
Aug 1975: Honor Graduate at CAP Ranger School (Search-and-Rescue).
Later, was selected as an instructor.
Aug 1975: Joined the United States Air Force.
(served as a mainframe computer operator until Dec 1978).
US Air Force: Aug 1975 to Nov 1991
NOTE: I was on active duty two different times. The first from Aug 1975 until May 1985. The second from Apr 1989 until Nov 1991. The time in between, I was a "weekender" in the Air National Guard.
Distinguished Graduate: USAF Law Enforcement Academy
- Feb 1979, completed combat training, awarded the Blue Beret.
- promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-5) 01 Sep 1980
- Law Enforcement Supervisor. Also, multi-qualified in Security, (AFSC: 81172/81170), Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD), Resources Protection, and EST.
- Expert in the following weapons: M-16 rifle, .38 pistol, M-60 machinegun (and qualified on M-203 grenade launcher)
- foreign languages:
- Korean (six semester-hours, in-country)
- Farsi (from members of the Royal Iranian Air Force)
- Rusyn (from my grandmother).
- 44 parachute jumps, mostly from Hueys (at up to 10.5K AGL)
- 11 May 1980: Three weeks after Operation EAGLE CLAW, captured an escapee from a security-quarantined diplomatic aircrew, thus preventing a breakdown in the negotiations for the Tehran embassy hostages.
- The aircraft was parked at Griffiss AFB, and the diplomats had been shuttled to the United Nations building. The escapee was the aircraft navigator.
- Had he not been captured and returned, then the Iranians could have claimed that the USA had taken their navigator hostage as leverage in the negotiations. Tom captured the navigator at a civilian airport, about ten miles from the base.
- Special agents of Air Force OSI confirmed that the navigator had purchased a ticket to California.
- Protection details for US President Ronald Reagan (15 Mar 1982), and for various other dignitaries (various occasions).
- Single-handedly stopped a motorcyclist from accessing the presidential limo.
- Distinguished Graduate of NCO Leadership School (in-residence, Maxwell AFB, AL)
- Team leader of base Emergency Services Team (EST) (counter-terrorism)
(Note: the team pictured in the link above is not the one to which Tom was assigned. Tom's team had additional duties, such as resource recovery, executive protection, and counter-terrorism.)
Duties included training team members in tasks such as rappelling, forced-entry, intelligence, cultural issues, and hostage-recovery tactics.
- Selected for the "Top Twelve" MAJCOM team for the 1983 Peacekeeper Challenge competition (now known as Defender Challenge).
- Over two years of security management experience, as the NCO in charge of the Resources Protection program for Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
- teaching classes (various topics, mostly dealing with reactions to high-stress incidents.)
Note: One of these classes was credited with preserving the life of a robbery victim, and the subsequent capture of the two robbers.
- writing Operational Plans (base-level and major-command)
- community relations (including feature articles)
- conducting compliance inspections (both regular and random)
- hosting committee meetings with senior decision-makers (up to 3 stars)
- conducting realistic scenario-reaction exercises (robbery, hostage, hijack, etc.)
- designed the physical security for the high-tech Air Force Wargaming Center, part of the Air War College.
- designed a form, which (via the USAF Suggestion Program) was adopted worldwide as a robbery-reaction tool.
- Fire team leader at Exercise Bold Eagle, Oct 83. (dress rehearsal for Operation Urgent Fury -- the invasion of Grenada)
- Inventor of the "Kovach Klip" pistol-belt extender. (Click to see who has one.)
- Spring 1999, article published in Tiger Flight.
In addition to the above -- while working at the Link factory in civilian life (he was a "weekender" in the Air National Guard at the time) --
Tom logged 15 hours of flying full-phase helicopter simulators (Cobra and Blackhawk).
This included two Cobra "combat" missions. Tom was the only "non-pilot" in the facility that could land the difficult "Pinnacle" scenario.
Personal note: On my 41st parachute jump, I suffered a high-speed malfunction, and a severe spinal injury.
(The chest-mounted reserve deployed while I was in a "stable freefall" position. I was folded in half backwards at terminal velocity.)
I'm rated by the VA as 40% disabled, but can perform most tasks normally with minimal accommodation ('cuz I'm stubborn).
Since March, 2007, I've been a member of
Tennessee Chapter One of the group Rolling Thunder.
We were proud to be among the 25,000 that defended the Vietnam Wall from the radicals of Code Pink via the first Gathering of Eagles.
This is the actual rocket, in mid-flight,
before it entered the window of
the final hideout of Uday and Qusay Hussein.
PS: Many people have "lifted" photos such as this from various sites.
This photo came to me from the man that took it.