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Heir apparent: Father, son deploy together

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
When a father of a 3-year-old son entered the Air Force 27 years ago, he never thought that one day he'd be working side by side with his son at a deployed location.

Today the father and son duo are fighting the war on terrorism together as they are based at a Southwest Asia air base flying missions on board the EC-130J Commando Solo.

"I'm very excited that I've had this opportunity to deploy with my son," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Kovach, a 43rd Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron electronic communications instructor. "I'm very proud of my son. I feel like he's paid me the highest compliment a son can pay his father by following in my footsteps."

This is the second time in the last eight years that both father and son have deployed together with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 193rd Special Operations Wing from Middletown, Penn.

"I was thrilled to find out that Dad and I would actually be here at the same time," said Master Sgt. Shawn Kovach, a 43rd EECS loadmaster. "I was really looking forward to being deployed with him again. It's not every day you get to deploy with your father, even though we're not allowed to fly on the same combat missions together."

Both father and son joined the active-duty Air Force and switched over into the Guard early in their careers.

After years of watching his dad fly on C-130 Hercules aircraft, the son grew up knowing he'd one day follow in his father's path.

"The strongest memory that I have is when my father came back from Operation Desert Storm," the younger Kovach said. "I was at the airport when my dad and his crew stepped off the plane. I will always remember that day. My dad was my biggest inspiration growing up. I knew one day I would be an aircrew member of a C-130 and be a part of the Air National Guard family."

Today the Kovaches have a direct effect on saving the lives of servicemembers in Iraq while flying in the EC-130J. Recently they flew their 100th combat mission. The elder Kovach presented his son with a certificate and patch commemorating the event.

"It was a pretty neat thing when we first found out we're going to fly our 100th combat mission," Sergeant Shawn Kovach said. "For a couple weeks I had the old man beat, since we were on separate crews. I felt really proud that I could share this moment with my dad. We're looking forward to 100 more missions."