Interview with a Veteran – John R. Kovalcik
US Naval Academy Class of 1978; Pilot Training Command VT 6; VT 23; VT 21; Fleet VF-171 (RAG / FRS) ; VF-151 (F-4) Assigned to USS Midway CV-41 home ported in Yokosuka, Japan
Dates joined and dismissed
1974 – 1978 USNA; 1978 – 1984 USN; 1986 – 1988 NJ ANG (Air Force Reserves)
LT / Capt – O3
Why did you join the service?
Naval Academy commission – it was free and I got in at a time when few people wanted to go into the service in 1974. The Vietnam War was over, anti war sentiment was strong. I had good grades in High School and scored well on SATs. My parents had money but I was one of four boys and all of us paid our way through school, just like our Father. They paid you to go to the Naval Academy!
What do you do now?
I run an IT Services Business. We perform IT services for DOD and any of the Agencies ranging from network infrastructure design / support / security, intrusion detection, software development, database admin, testing, project management – really anything that involves IT. IntePros Federal is a Veteran Owned Small Business and we are always looking for teaming partners – we have great past performances and we are always looking for great people. Again, Veterans are the best! I am also a Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer – I interview prospective candidates for the Academy.
Avid runner, golfer, snowboarder, and tinkerer – I like to fix things.
What was the best thing about the service?
People were the best. Many great friends that you met and lived with. We all held pretty much the same values and beliefs. You trusted your life to one another and the mutual support transcended all differences.
What was the worst thing about the service?
Waiting around – I always liked to stay busy. I always had something to read or do. When I was in a “pool,” waiting to start the pilot training command in Pensacola, FL, I worked at a car dealer selling cars to make sure I was busy. I liked being busy at the Naval Academy. You never had time to rest or relax. My wife, Loren and I are still moving and shaking in our mid 50s!
During your transition from active service to veteran, what or who was the most helpful?
Family. I was very fortunate to join a family business in a hot market – selling personal computers in the early 1980s. We timed it right in and also when we sold in 1995. All four brothers are doing something different. Started the business with $65,000 loan from me and my Dad.
During your transition from active service to veteran, what or who was the most frustrating?
Missing the orderliness of an organization. I had to build one with a formal structure – or so I thought. People do things differently and it took a while for me to realize that there were other ways of doing the same thing than what I learned in the military.
What advice would you give to someone entering the service?
Do it – best thing you will ever do. Keep your mouth shut and do as you are told. Keep your attitude high and never quit.
What advice would you give to someone leaving the service?
Work hard, keep your mouth shut and lead by example. People do indeed know who you are, many more admire you for what you did and what you stand for – they just don’t tell you.
As a veteran, what/when was your proudest moment?
After almost two years of hard work (and fun) in the training command and after competing with an initial class of over 300, I was one of four who received orders to become a fighter pilot.
Here you are, speaking to thousands of veterans. What would you like to tell them?
You can do anything you want to do. If you make enough attempts after failing, you will gain experience and hopefully not make the same mistakes again. You have the training and the skills. Some folks are book smart and some are street smart – I like the hard working street smart ones who are passionate about their lives, family and their work. If you have some basic intelligence and you have passion for our work, you meet the two minimum requirements to work with our people here at IntePros.
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