Tom Kovach (Tennessee, USA)


This article is about Tom Kovach -- soldier, inventor, author, activist and actor from Tennessee, USA.

For articles about other men named Tom Kovach, click this disambiguation page.

Tom Kovach (Tennessee USA)
Photo taken: Sep 2012 (age 54)
(For a larger view, click on picture.)

Contents

Early life

upbringing

Thomas Frantisekovich "Tom" Kovach (rhymes with "watch") was born in 1958 in Westchester County, New York, to a family of Italian heritage. At approximately one month of age, he was adopted by a childless couple in south Texas. His adopted father, František (Frank) "Lefty" Kovach, was a former professional boxer of Rusyn heritage, born in 1916 in Binghamton, New York. His adopted mother, Hilda Lee "Jerry" Ickles was a former shipyard worker originally from Kansas. The couple had met in the shipyard area of Long Beach, California, where Jerry had been a "Rosie the riveter" during and after World War Two, and Frank had been a post-war welder by day and a boxer by night. (Frank had served in the Army prior to WW2, and was a Merchant Marine seaman on oil tankers during the war.) After working the shipyards and boxing for a couple of years, Frank took his bride back to his hometown of Binghamton. There, he drove long-haul trucking for a few years. In approximately 1956, they moved from Upstate NY to south Texas, where Frank took a construction job with Brown & Root, helping to build a chemical refinery. After the plant was built, Union-Carbide hired Frank to help operate the portion of the plant that he had helped to build. The family name means "blacksmith".

The couple had adopted two children. But, upon the death of Jerry Kovach in August of 1963, when both children were five years old, their daughter was adopted out to another childless couple in the Binghamton area. Tom Kovach and his adopted sister would later reconnect during their high school years -- when, it turned out, both had an interest in theatrical productions, and each school's drama guild visited the other school's production of the popular stageplay "Fiddler on the Roof". Tom and his sister kept in touch during his early years in the Air Force, but then lost contact sometime in 1983.

In November of 1972, when Tom was 14 years old, Frank Kovach died in Tom's arms of complications from injuries sustained during an industrial explosion while Tom was an infant. At that time (approximately 1960), Frank Kovach had been a welder and pipefitter at the Union Carbide chemical refinery in Seadrift, Texas -- a small coastal town approximately 25 miles from their hometown of Victoria, Texas. Frank was blasted off a third-story scaffold, landed on a concrete pad, and was then struck in the neck by the end of a flying 8-inch pipe. He was hospitalized for approximately 18 months, and thereafter lived off disability insurance payments. As a child, Tom Kovach learned basic cooking and cleaning early on, and took care of his father to the degree possible.

After the death of his father, Tom Kovach moved in with relatives in the Binghamton area. At approximately the age of 15, Tom began to refer to his aunt and uncle as "Mom and Dad", claiming that it was "less complicated" than explaining the details to his schoolmates. Tom had three older "siblings" (actually cousins), the youngest of which was seven years older than Tom and the only one still living at home at that time. Frank Kovach had been the only one of his generation to move away from the Binghamton area. So, during his high school years, Tom Kovach got better acquainted with relatives that he had previously known only through occasional visists. He also began to learn the Rusyn language and culture from his paternal grandmother and other relatives. During the stageplay of "Fiddler on the Roof" in high school, Tom learned to become a Cossack dancer -- a hobby that he kept up for many years afterward.

formative activities

While still living in Texas, Tom had played football in the Pee Wee and high school programs. But, after moving to New York, he eschewed organized sports, claiming that school athletes there were not held to the same academic and behavioral standards as school athletes in Texas. He did briefly practice with his NY high school's soccer team, but found that he could not maintain that and his other activities, which also included a part-time job as a salesman at a local men's clothing store.

Oct 1983
Tom Kovach in his Cossack dance costume, nine years after the play

Tom was a part of five plays while in high school. He had three different parts in the Spring 1974 production of "Fiddler on the Roof" alone (Cossack dancer, Jewish bottle dancer, and Russian villager). He also enjoyed working backstage, where he handled props, worked on set construction, and was the stage manager for his last two plays.


Also while in high school in Upstate New York, Tom Kovach joined the cadet program of the Civil Air Patrol. Although most cadets join that program to learn the basics of aviation and possibly work toward becoming a military pilot, Tom was attracted to the ground search-and-rescue aspect of the program. In August of 1974, he was the honor graduate of CAP Ranger School, held at a remote campsite northeast of Binghamton. The training program had a graduated system of achievements (trainee, Ranger Basic, Ranger Advanced 2nd Class, Ranger Advanced 1st Class, Ranger Expert). In the 20-year history of that program, only six cadets achieved the status of Ranger Expert. Tom was the last.

Air Force career

Given his background in the Civil Air Patrol, Tom had joined the US Air Force with the intent of going into Pararescue -- the highly-trained commandos that parachute behind enemy lines to rescue downed fighter pilots, among other tasks. Tom did not make the cut, though, and was involuntarily assigned to mainframe computer operations for his first three years in the Air Force. During that time, though, Tom volunteered for several special duties, mostly as a snow control heavy equipment operator with the USAF Civil Engineers at his first base, KI Sawyer Air Force Base, located in Upper Michigan. (On average, the base got 18 feet of snow per year. So, the regular Civil Engineers crew was augmented with people from other units on the base. Most were not volunteers, but Tom was.) His experience with the Civil Engineers also enabled Tom to later participate in recovery operations at a B-52 crash site, where Tom was assigned to recover all of the classified "black boxes" that were strewn about.

On two occasions during 1977, Tom requested and obtained from his commander "permissive TDY" to work for the State of Michigan on temporary fire-fighting crews to fight two forest fires. These fires, approximately two weeks apart, were on Sugarloaf Mountain and Hogsback Mountain. While working the Hogsback fire, Tom was temporarily trapped in a area with trees falling all around him, because the roots had been burned underground by the heated rock formations.

In the summer of 1978, the Air Force began a program called WarSkill. The concept was to train enlisted personnel from non-combat jobs (finance, personnel, computers, etc.) in secondary jobs that are urgently needed in the event of war. Because of the training time required for new personnel, the Air Force decided that they would train on-hand personnel in these jobs, and then use them temporarily until permaantly-assigned personnel could be brought in from formal training programs. The original WarSkill program started as an experiment at three remote bases. The first base to get their program going was K.I. Sawyer. Tom Kovach was the honor graduate of the Air Force's very first WarSkill class in law enforcement.

Air Force regulations require that a first-term airman remain in his assigned career field for three years before being eligible to apply for retraining. As soon as he was eligible, and with the door to Pararescue closed by an inner-ear problem that prevented him from being able to participate in nap-of-the-Earth flying, Tom Kovach applied for cross-training into permanent law enforcement duties. In January of 1979, Tom was a distinguished graduate of the USAF Law Enforcement Academy at Lackland AFB, Texas. He then went on to become a squad leader during combat training, and earned the Blue Beret that is distinctive to the USAF Security Police (as they were then known).

Fri, 09 May 1980
Iran Air 707 diplomatic shuttle as it taxis to parking area near the golf course at Griffiss AFB, New York
(photo from the personal collection of Tom Kovach)

Tom's first assignment as a Security Policeman was at Griffiss AFB, New York. There, he became a patrol supervisor, was hand-picked to become a flight-level investigator, and attained the grade of Staff Sergeant. At Griffiss, on Sunday, 11 May 1980, Tom single-handedly prevented an international incident with Iran in the wake of Operation Eagle Claw, which had occurred three weeks prior. A diplomatic team from Iran was dispatched to the United Nations for talks with Donald McHenry, then US ambassador to the United Nations. For security reasons, the team had flown from Iran into Griffiss AFB, and then was shuttled to Manhattan for talks at the UN building. The navigator of the Iran Air jetliner escaped from protective custody on the base. When the disappearance was discovered, Kovach took an Air Force patrol car off base and captured the navigator at the local civilian airport. After subsequent investigation, special agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) confirmed that the navigator had purchased an airline ticket to California, and that he was attempting to avoid returning to Iran. Had the escape been successful, then the Iranians could have claimed (falsely) that the Central Intelligence Agency had kidnapped the navigator as leverage in the negotiations for the embassy staffers being held in the Iran hostage crisis. In such a scenario, it is possible that the Iranian captors could've started killing the hostages in retaliation. (And, because the United States did not have the navigator in custody, there would've been no way to produce him in order to stop the killings.)

In December of 1980, Staff Sergeant Tom Kovach was transferred to Taegu Air Base, South Korea. There, he enrolled in off-duty college classes in Korean language and narcotics investigation. He also enrolled in off-base classes in the praying mantis style of Kung Fu. (Among troops that have been stationed in Korea, the off-base classes are considered far more stringent. The on-base classes in martial arts are sometimes referred to as "belt factories", because one can get a black belt in twelve months, but without nearly the rigor of off-base classes.) Prior to arrival in Korea, Tom Kovach had previously studied Tae Kwon Do. While stationed at Taegu, Staff Sgt. Kovach also became the team leader of an Emergency Services Team (EST), the Air Force's equivalent of civilian SWAT.

After a one-year tour in Korea, Tom Kovach was transferred to Maxwell AFB, Alabama. There, he served on a protection detail for US President Ronald Reagan, during which Kovach stopped a moving motorcycle from getting near the presidential motorcade. Staff Sgt. Kovach also became the team leader of Maxwell's EST, as well as an assistant flight chief for law enforcement patrols. In May of 1982, Tom Kovach was hand-picked to become the Resources Protection NCO for the base. In that function, Kovach was in charge of developing operational plans for the protection of a variety of Air Force resources -- from cash-storage operations to the protection of distinguished visitors. Among other things, Kovach was hand-picked as the security advisor for the design of the Air Force Wargaming Center -- the real-life facility upon which the movie "War Games" was predicated. During his tour at Maxwell, Staff Sgt. Kovach also made more than two dozen jumps at the military drop zone at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Jan 1985
Staff Sgt. Tom Kovach jumps from a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter
4,500 feet above Fort Rucker, Alabama
(photo source: Maxwell AFB Dispatch newspaper

In May of 1985, Tom Kovach left his active-duty Air Force career in an attempt to save his first marriage. That summer, he worked in security at Indian Point nuclear power plant, located near Peekskill, New York. This was a three-month temporary job, when the plant expanded their security in response to a labor dispute. While working at the nuclear plant, Tom Kovach had an arrangement with Annunciation Monastery, located in Tuxedo Park, New York. Tom lived as a guest of the monastery, and was enrolled in classes to become a Deacon in the Orthodox Church. After leaving the temporary job at Indian Point, Tom Kovach worked on-and-off for a private investigator in Binghamton, New York. In December of 1985, Tom Kovach was hired as a deputy sheriff in the Broome County Jail. While working in the jail, Kovach befriended and protected anti-abortion activist Randall Terry. Kovach is mentioned (though not by name) in Terry's first book, "Operation Rescue" as one of two Christian deputies that prevented Terry from being assaulted during his numerous stays in that jail. (Prior to seeing the shameful treatment of Terry by the criminal justice system, Kovach had been "pro-choice" in his views on abortion. The experience in the Broome County Jail, where Terry was frequently transferred into cell sections with violent criminals, in an effort to get him some "real punishment", caused Kovach to become staunchly anti-abortion.)

After working in the jail for 18 months, Tom Kovach was hired in the security department of Link Flight Simulation. There, while working as a security guard, Kovach befriended various project engineers. As a result, Tom Kovach was able to log hours flying various full-phase simulators, especially the Blackhawk helicopter. Kovach was the only non-pilot in the building that could land the difficult Pinnacle scenario, which simulated landing atop a narrow butte that was several hundred feet tall. Tom also single-handedly apprehended a Link engineer that was attempting to abscond with proprietary design information, after the company failed to get the contract to build the C-17 simulator. In the wake of the C-17 loss, a Link whistleblower revealed that senior company officials were involved in a financial scandal to defraud the Defense Department. This occurred during the same time that Link Flight Simulation was caught up in the "corporate raider" schemes of the mid-1980s, during which Link was broken up into four separate companies by raider Paul Bilzerian.

During the time when he held the above jobs, Tom Kovach was also a member of the Air National Guard. He served in two Security Police units -- first in the 105th Military Airlift Group at Stewart ANG Base in Newburgh, New York, and later in the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing, located at Hancock Field just north of Syracuse, New York. While a member of the 105th, Staff Sgt. Kovach also made several jumps with the Airborne Detachment at the US Military Academy at nearby West Point. There, in October of 1985, Tom Kovach suffered a high-speed parachute malfunction that caused painful injuries to his spine. While a member of the 174th, that unit was presented the title of "best tac-fighter wing in the world" by USAF General Chuck Horner. In March of 1989, Kovach was selected to return to active duty, again in the 105th, under the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) program.

While on active duty in the 105th at Stewart, Kovach befriended an Army Ranger instructor at West Point, SFC Mallory Sump -- the inventor of the SUMP Protractor. Sump made a phone call from his home to Mitchell WerBell IV, the founding president of Brigade Quartermasters. During that call, WerBell verbally bought the rights to Kovach's invention, the Kovach Klip military pistol-belt extender. Subsequently, WerBell and Kovach had a five-year written agreement for royalties on the Kovach Klip, but WerBell actually kept the agreement in force for seven years. In haste to get the invention on the market before Operation Desert Shield turned into a full-blown war, Kovach chose to forego obtaining a patent. As a result, other companies copied the Kovach Klip design. But, because Brigade Quartermasters had the PX/BX supply contract, BQM remained the primary manufacturer and seller of Kovach's invention.

career-ending decision

On the evening of Friday, 10 August 1990, Staff Sgt. Tom Kovach was on routine security patrol at Stewart ANG Base. Toward the end of their shift, at approximately 2235 hours, Kovach and his patrol partner sighted some lights in a part of the base that should've been unoccupied. This was only four days after Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. Stewart was the closest military airlift base to New York City, and thus was on high alert for terrorist activity. Kovach and his partner rolled out to investigate. They observed the base commander and the base civil engineer supervising a crew from the base fire department, using a P-3 fire engine sump pump, draining contaminated wastewater from a detention pond and blowing it over the base perimeter fence onto civilian property. Silver Stream flowed nearby, and the foamy contaminant went about a mile downstream to Silver Stream Reservoir, which was part of the drinking supply for the city of Newburgh, New York. Knowing that nothing would happen to that commander if he reported it via military channels, Tom Kovach waited until he was off-duty, and then called the hotline of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) to report the dumping. Because there was only a small contingent of Security Policemen on duty that evening, it did not take long for the commander to figure out who had blown the whistle. A bitter paperwork battle ensued, during which Kovach called for an investigation by the inspector general of the NY Air National Guard. Eventually, though, Kovach's military career of more than 16 years was involuntarily terminated in the wake of his whistleblowing. Officially, he had been "downsized" during the sweeping budget cuts in the wake of Operation Desert Storm.

Post-military careers

various jobs

At various times after the termination of his Air Force career, Tom Kovach worked as an insurance salesman, a Post Office temporary mail handler, a factory worker at IBM, a paralegal, a CADD operator at a gas utility company, and a hotel front-desk clerk. All of these jobs were in the Binghamton area.

In 2001, Tom Kovach moved from Binghamton to Nashville, Tennessee. There, he worked variously as a paralegal, a security guard in a halfway house for Federal prisoners, the general manager of a Jiffy Lube facility, a church janitor, a horse wrangler at two trail-riding ranches, an interpeter of American Sign Language in the Nashville public schools, a car salesman, and a salesman at a Western wear store. Kovach blamed his inability to hold steady employment on "illegal codes" that were placed on his military discharge certificate, and on damage to his credit rating from numerous court battles with his ex-wife over child support. In particular, Kovach has stated that he lost an opportunity for a lucrative Federal job with Homeland Security in the wake of the 9-11 attacks for these reasons.

writing career

Kovach had been interested in writing since his youth, but had limited success at becoming a professional writer. Opportunities for writing jobs expanded with the advent of the Internet, and thus Kovach began writing online. While most people start at the bottom, Tom Kovach got his very first online writing assignment to cover a key speech by US President George W. Bush. This was the "armies of compassion" speech to the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters. Kovach covered this speech for WorldNetDaily, one of the most popular news sites on the Internet. Bush's speech, delivered on Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003, was considered the most provocative of Bush's "saber-rattling" speeches warning of an impending invasion of Iraq in retribution for the "9-11" attacks.

Tom Kovach subsequently wrote for several online publications -- including the Renew America site hosted by conservative activist Alan Keyes. Eventually, Tom Kovach started his own blog, named The Crossbow. Topics range from politics and war to Bible prophecy and even entertainment.

Tom Kovach has written two non-fiction print books. In 2006, he released "Slingshot", an anthology of his online columns. In 2008, he released "Tribulation: 2008", an analysis of Bible prophecy.

Tom has also written two online-only books. "Heralding Destruction" is an examination of the identity of the Anti-Christ, using Bible prophecy to examine the clues in his personal coat-of-arms. "On Wings of Eagles" is an examination of how Bible prophecy leaves clues for investing in Israeli petroleum in the End Times.

talk radio

Tom Kovach caught the bug early, having been a caller to a talk-radio program for the first time at the age of six. While at his first Air Force duty station, Tom volunteered at an Armed Forces Radio station. (The base was so remote that it was one of only three Stateside bases to have its own AFRTS station.) Although Tom was a music DJ at this station, the skills he learned would later be employed in talk radio.

In 1993, Tom took advantage of "public access" rules to host a conservative talk radio program on the liberal campus station, WHRW, of the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY-B). Tom's show caught the attention of "Family News in Focus", the daily five-minute radio news broadcast of the Focus on the Family radio and magazine Christian ministry. Tom later became a news stringer for the Family Life Network.

In July of 2007, Kovach launched an Internet radio talk show on the Blog Talk Radio network. The show was titled "The US Phone Force" -- playing off Kovach's career in the US Air Force, plus the power inherrent in the phone calls of informed citizens.

In January of 2008, Tom began as a Sunday morning talk host on the Republic Broadcasting Network, with a two-hour weekly show on 19 stations. Tom was able to keep his "US Phone Force" title for the show. After only three weeks in that slot, the RBN program director called Tom at home and offered him the weekday opener slot. After five months on the air, Tom's show had grown to 51 stations nationwide, and was one of the network's most popular programs. Nonetheless, Tom walked away from RBN after a controversy was sparked by a daily nuisance caller that went by the pseudonym "Davy". The controversy erupted after Kovach banned caller "Davy" from the program because his daily anti-Semitic rants. In turn, "Davy" called the president of the network, who then sent Kovach a package filled with anti-Jewish propaganda to prop-up Davy's daily assertions that the Jews really were the cause of "all the ills of the world". Several months after Kovach left his network program, the incident came to the attention of Tamar Yonah, the number-one talk-radio host in Israel at that time. After interviewing Kovach, and hearing the full story first-hand, she dubbed Tom Kovach to be a "righteous Gentile". Tom Kovach considers that to be one of the proudest moments of his life. (Kovach also wrote a series of columns that appeared on RBN's Web site. Despite the circumstances of his departure, RBN has kept the Kovach column archive on its site.)

acting career

In 2009, as a result of a local TV news story that described job openings for background actors, Tom Kovach began acting in movies. He has been credited in nine TV and film titles, as listed on his official Internet Movie Database page. He is in three episodes of the upcoming ABC-TV drama series Nashville.

Filmed: Mar 2012; Aired: Oct 2012
Tom Kovach in his television debut
For larger view, click on picture.
(Nashville -- copyright ABC-TV / Lionsgate)

In addition to his high school stageplays, Tom Kovach also appeared in a Nashville-area community theater production of "Fiddler on the Roof". As a result of his prior experience, he was one of the Cossack dancers, and served as choreographer and assistant director. He also portrayed the antagonist, The Constable.

Activism

pro-se activities

Tom Kovach became self-taught in legal procedure during his divorce proceedings. He later was the honor graduate in a paralegal class, and subsequently worked in that field on occasion. Using the skills that he learned, Tom Kovach filed court papers in various civic activism roles. He successfully blocked a fundraiser by NAMBLA, planned for the campus of the state university in Binghamton. In 1998, Kovach also sued his congressman, Maurice Hinchey, alleging that a Hinchey campaign ad was illegal because it was filmed at a local public school. The ad was pulled from television for several weeks during the course of the lawsuit, which was subsequently dismissed on a technicality. Kovach also obtained a sanction against his ex-wife's lawyer for misconduct in the courtroom. The lawyer appealed, the sanction was remanded to the original trial court for re-hearing, the lawyer was sanctioned (even more stringently this time), and then the lawyer appealed again. Kovach argued against both appeals before a seven-judge panel of the Appellate Division, the second-highest court in New York State. On both occasions, Kovach prevailed. As a result, the blistering final sanction against attorney James Mack of Binghamton is now part of the published record.

After moving to Tennessee, Kovach again represented himself in several legal actions. Claiming that he had been unfairly dismissed from his job as a Sign Language interpreter, after defending himself from an assault by an unruly student, Tom Kovach sued the school district. The case was eventually dismissed, but not before gaining local news media attention. That attention was expanded because of a rash of student-upon-staff assaults -- one of which resulted in a long-time teacher being hospitalized and then later resigning. Kovach started a not-for-profit organiztion called "Save Our Schools" to advocate that school "no touch" policies were resulting in students carte blance misbehavior -- including property damage and felonious assaults.

Kovach also filed a lawsuit against the then-governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, to block the construction of a two-story underground party hall in the front yard of the Governor's Mansion. Kovach argued that the state organization that handled the funds for the project had been created illegally. He also argued that the state's first lady was not allowed to have any administrative control of those funds, because she was neither an employee nor an elected official of the state. The lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality, and the "Bredesen bunker was built at a cost of approximately 20 million taxpayer dollars.

political activity

In the Spring of 1992, Tom Kovach wrote a letter to the editor of the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. That letter caught the attention of the Broome County committee of the Conservative Party of New York State (CPNYS), which invited Tom to join them. He soon became the county committee's spokesman. Two years later, he delivered the welcoming speech at a statewide CPNYS mini-convention held in Binghamton. The speech was titled "Binghamton, New York -- hometown of the American dream".

In 1994, Tom Kovach was on the ballot for Congress in what was then the 26th District of New York. (Redistricting after the 2000 census changed the boundaries and the district number.) Although he was an official with the Conservative Party at that time, Kovach ran on the line of the Right-to-Life Party. (He later claimed that this was because the CPNYS "sold out" to wealthy Republican challenger Bob Moppert, who also ran on the Conservative Party line.) Kovach challenged incumbent Democrat Maurice Hinchey, who ran on a reputation of being an environmental champion. In a live televised interview in Beacon, NY, at the other end of the congressional district, Kovach charged that Hinchey had the power (as the chairman of the NY State Assembly's Committee on the Environment at that time) to both know about and do something about the environmental dumping incident at Stewart, but that Hinchey did nothing. The presence of Kovach in the election swayed the outcome. Moppert lost to Hinchey by 1,278 votes, while Kovach got 4,400 votes -- mostly from staunch anti-abortion Republicans that eschewed Moppert's "pro-choice" position.

In 1996-1997, Kovach was a volunteer member of the New York Constitutional Congress (NYCC), organized by well-known pro-se activist Bob Schulz (who had been a role model for Kovach's pro-se activities). The congress met monthly in a lecture hall in the legislative building of the NY State Captiol Complex. Originally, the purpose of the congress was described as "preventive" in nature -- organizing as an antidote to a growing undercurrent toward holding constitutional conventions in every state. The purpose of that undercurrent was perceived by conservative activits as undermining the Republic, and so the NYCC members felt that they were serving as a bastion against that undercurrent. Several months into the proceedings, however, Schulz brought in wealthy political activist Tom Golisano, who was largely perceived by conservatives as having used his wealth to form his own political party to further a personal agenda. That agenda included, among other things, a "pro-choice" position on abortion. When that topic was brought up by Golisano during his opening remarks to the NYCC, then Kovach "staged a political train wreck" by forcing a floor vote about abortion. The debate became so contentious that the NYCC fell apart that day. Kovach described this as a victory against what he perceived as a "hidden agenda" foisted by Schulz and Golisano upon the assembled congress of mostly conservative activists. Prior to that day, Kovach had admired Schulz as a role model and had sought his advice on civic activism. But, the two dissociated from each other after that day.

After moving to Tennessee in 2001, Kovach became involved in the Constitution Party. In 2004, he became the state party's spokesman. He remained in that position until the Spring of 2008.

In 2006, Tom Kovach again ran for the US House of Representatives. Because there are no "third party" ballot lines in Tennessee, Kovach sought and obtained permission to run in the Republican Party primary. No one opposed him, and so Tom Kovach was on the Republican ballot line to challenge incumbent Democrat Jim Cooper. Even though Kovach was unemployed for part of the election season*, and thus had a campaign budget of only $3,000, he still got more than 49,000 votes. (* Although he was employed by the Nashville school district, he did not have an income during the summer vacation.) Kovach went on door-to-door campaign ventures in the summer, even though he was recovering from emergency abdominal surgery earlier that year. He later told people that he would go out each day and knock on doors "until I would bleed, and then go home". The primary plank of Kovach's campaign platform was border security, which was a hot topic that year.

In 2008, after the Constitution Party rejected the presidential campaign of Alan Keyes, Kovach joined a handful of conservative leaders from across the United States and helped create America's Party. The party was officially formed in May of 2008, and by August of 2008 it had become the third-largest political party in the United States (fueled largely by the California chapter of the Constitution Party, which broke off en masse to join America's Party.) Keyes was that party's first presidential candidate. Keyes was on the ballot in 33 states, despite the brief existence of the party at that time.

In January of 2012, Tom Kovach was a vocal participant in the America's Party presidential nominating convention, which was held electronically. Kovach voiced the nomination of J.D. Ellis, a preacher from Tennessee, as the party's vice-presidential candidate. Ellis had been Kovach's state party vice-chairman. After the nomination, the two switched roles within the state party. Then, Kovach became the national chairman of the party's military outreach, called Veterans United to Save America (V-USA).

personal life

family, marriage and children

In May of 1978, Tom Kovach married his former high school girlfriend, JoAnn Vavra, in an Orthodox Christian ceremony in Binghamton, New York. They remained married until March of 1995, when JoAnn's divorce filing became final. (During their marriage, JoAnn left Tom three times -- having mailed him a legal separation for their third anniversary, while he was stationed in Korea.) They had one daughter, Anna, in 1987. She is now an anthropologist, and was director of a theater and art museum.

May 1978
May 2010
Tom and JoAnn Kovach, visiting with
"Baba" (Grandma) Katarina Kovach
Tom and Anna Kovach, new anthropologist

When daughter Anna was about two years old, and Tom was 31 years old, Tom used some law enforcement connections, coupled with research at the Westchester County Library, and phone calls based upon that research, to learn more about his birth family. (His primary reason, at that point, was to learn whether there were any genetic threats to Anna's future.) It turned out that Tom's birth father was also named Frank, and both fathers had been street fighters. František (Frank) Kovach turned his fighting skills into a successful (but not lucrative) boxing career (21 bouts -- 19 wins, one draw, one loss, 15 wins by knock-out). The other Frank (last name withheld by Tom Kovach) was a jailhouse brawler that earned the nickname "Bamboo" -- because, according to one Westchester County Jail supervisor that Tom interviewed during his research, "When you knock him down, he comes right back up again." According to one family member that Tom interviewed (Frank's sister, Tina), birth father Frank bore a striking resemblance to movie/TV actor James Garner. After several months of research, and aided by a police officer that Tom knew threw his Air National Guard service, Tom did track down his birth family. The meeting was awkward, because the family had Mafia connections, while Tom was a military law enforcement supervisor. Tom has two older brothers in the birth family, and no younger siblings. (At the time of their meeting, the oldest brother had just finished five years in a New York state prison. Both of the older brothers were "bill collectors". It turned out that the police officer that assisted Tom had grown up one block from them, and had gone to high school with the second brother.) Tom's birth mother had been a telephone operator in the New York City area for 30 years, and then retired to a small community in the Adirondack Mountains. The meeting took place in a park in that village. Tom Kovach kept in touch with his birth mother for about two years, but then they mutually agreed that they had little to discuss. (She had never told her other two sons about Tom's existence, and so the meeting had caused friction within that family.) Tom more strongly resembeles his birth mother than his birth father. Tom jokingly explains that, because his birth mother was a telephone operator for a long time, "I got the talk gene". Tom's adopted mother had been an amateur poet, which could explain his love of writing.

In the Spring of 2001, Tom Kovach met a woman online, and they got to know each other via e-mails and phone calls. In August of that year, Tom moved to Nashville with the intent of marrying Lynn Callarman. They got married in June of 2002. Lynn's father was a retired major from Army Intelligence; his last assignment was at The Pentagon. Because of their patriotic backgrounds, the couple got married on Flag Day. Lynn has one son from a previous relatioship. When they met and later married, Lynn was working as a legislative financial analyst for the Tennessee General Assembly. She retired in July of 2011, after 26 years of service. Lynn continues to work part-time. Tom has a day job as an engineering clerk while working to boost his acting career to full-time status.

religion, pets, hobbies, etc

Tom Kovach was not raised in a Christian home, despite the fact that his paternal grandmother had been a founding member of a parish in Binghamton. Tom's father, Frank, had broken away from church during his teen years, but did not forbid Tom from attending a Lutheran church that was built next to their home in Victoria. It was not until after he joined the Air Force that Tom began a personal pursuit to understand the Bible for himself, and thus joined the Orthodox Church because of its unbroken history and connection to his Rusyn heritage. Tom attended various Orthodox parishes for 20 years, during his military career and afterward. In the wake of his 1995 divorce, Tom lived for six months as a monastic novice, but decided that being a monk was not for him. Tom's second wife, Lynn, visited two Orthodox parishes in the Nashville area, in an attempt to learn more about Tom's background. But, because of her asthma, she could not tolerate the incense used during the services. Lynn had grown up in the Church of Christ fellowship -- attending on her own as a child, as had Tom. Tom and Lynn were married in a Church of Christ congregation, which they attended for several years. Starting in September of 2010, due to the 25-mile distance between that congregation in Nashville and their new home in Mount Juliet, they changed membership to a nearby contemporary Southern Baptist congregation, where Tom started a small ministry to the Deaf.

Tom Kovach has owned five large dogs and two horses over the years. The first four dogs were German shepherds, starting when Tom was ten years old. The fifth dog is from the rare Cane Corso breed. That dog, named Braveheart, had been abandoned and came up to Kovach in a battlefield park. The complete story can be read at: www.BraveheartDog.com.

Tom Kovach first rode a motorcycle, unassisted, at the age of ten. He has been an enthusiast ever since. He was a member of the group Rolling Thunder for four years, and served as his chapter's legislative liaison. That chapter was one of many at the 2007 Gathering of Eagles event, where many veterans' groups united to defend the Vietnam War Memorial Wall against defacement by protesters from the group Code Pink.

Tom Kovach has a Class A parachutist's license from the US Parachute Association. He has made 44 parachute jumps -- 41 from military aircraft, 35 freefall jumps, 42 jumps without injury. On one jump at Fort Rucker, the man that signed his logbook was retired colonel Joe Kittinger -- who, in 1961, had set the world's record for altitude and speed of a skydive by jumping from a specially-designed Air Force balloon at the edge of Earth's atmosphere.

While in basic training, Tom Kovach scored very highly in the Defense Language Aptitude Test (his score was more than twice the minimum needed to qualify as an interpreter). He has a life-long interest in languages. He can greet people in more than ten languages. He also speaks portions of Russian, Rusyn, Ukrainain, Farsi and Korean, and he is conversant in American Sign Language. He was an early member of the group Silent Dinners of Nashville, a social group for Deaf people and others interested in American Sign Language.

References

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]


article written: Friday, 28 Sep 2012 art. last updated: Monday, 08 Oct 2012